How Real Estate Agents Can Get Started with Facebook Ads

In 2018, the never-ending battle between businesses and brands for the attention of Facebook users is going to be more fiercely competitive than ever before. Despite the popularity of other social media apps like Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and Twitter, Facebook still remains one of the most widely used social networking communities in the world. To put this into context, consider the following statistics shared in a post published back in September of last year by Sprout Social:

  • Facebook has more than 2 billion active daily users
  • Youtube has 1.5 billion monthly active users
  • Twitter has 328 million monthly active users
  • Snapchat has an estimated 255 million monthly active users

If these numbers weren’t staggering enough, Facebook also reports that there are now 1.3 billion people using Messenger to communicate with friends, and more users are creating and tuning in for Live video sessions on the platform than ever before.

Needless to say, the social media giant isn’t going anywhere. In 2018 it will continue to exist as an incredibly popular channel for boosting business awareness, engaging with users, capturing leads, and gaining new customers.

But here’s the problem:

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain traction on Facebook through organic means alone. In the past, you could get traction from publishing and sharing updates with followers on a consistent basis. If you used Facebook regularly, tried your best to engage with people, and weren’t too promotional, you could get results. But it’s not enough anymore. Facebook for business isn’t an early adopter’s game anymore—it’s everyone’s game. The playing field has been leveled for businesses all trying to attract and engage with the same audiences.

Now, in order to win, you have to pay to play. To achieve your goals and get value out of social media as a real estate agent, you need to turn to advertising.

Here are 7 tips that can help you understand how to create winning Facebook ads for your real estate business:

1. Know Exactly Who You Want to Target

The key to any successful Facebook advertising campaign is knowing exactly who you want to target beforehand. One of the reasons why businesses and brands love using Facebook ads over other advertising channels is because it offers incredibly powerful and effective targeting tools.

There are three options for choosing which audience you want to target on Facebook: Core Audiences, Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences.

With core audiences, you select your audience manually by:

  • demographics
  • location
  • interests
  • behaviors (such as purchase behaviors, device usage and other activities)
  • based on connections (people connected to your Facebook Page, app or event)

Your core audience is the people you want to reach and engage with.

With custom audiences, you upload lists that allow you to target:

  • your current customers
  • your site visitors
  • your mobile app users

Your custom audience is the people you already know but want to engage with again.

With lookalike audiences, you target people who may be similar to your customers or existing prospects.

Knowing who your audience is ahead of time will allow you to build an effective Facebook ad that drives better results and costs you less money in the long run.

2. Define Your Objectives & Goals

To build a winning Facebook ad campaign for your real estate business, you also need to have a firm grasp on what your objectives and goals are. Facebook helps advertisers succeed by encouraging them to build a campaign based on one of three primary goals: raising awareness, driving more engagement (consideration), or boosting conversions.

Each of the three primary goals has a number of objectives to choose from, as shown here:

Screen Shot 2018 01 04 at 9.49.49 PM

If you’re like most real estate agents, you’ll probably want to start by focusing on ads that help you boost page awareness and reach, drive more post engagement, increase open house event participation, send more traffic to your website, and allow you to collect information from potential leads (like email addresses).

To learn more about choosing the right objective for your ad campaign, explore this helpful guide from Facebook.

3. Think Through Formats & Ideas

Once you’ve settled on who your audience is, how you intend to target them, and what your goals and objectives are, the next step in the Facebook ad creation process is to think through ad formats and real estate specific advertising campaign ideas.

When it comes to Facebook advertising, there are a handful of ad formats to choose from:

  • Photo Ads – use this format to feature beautiful photos of homes you are listing.
  • Video Ads – use this format to promote videos of homes for sale, or educational videos.
  • Carousel Ads – use this format to feature multiple photos or videos of a listing in a single ad.
  • Slideshow Ads – use this format to create lightweight and cost-effective video ads out of images or video.
  • Collection Ads – use this format to promote multiple listings at once.
  • Canvas Ads – use this format to showcase your real estate business by creating full-screen, visually-compelling and storytelling-driven ads for your prospective clients.
  • Lead Ads – use this format to promote an ebook and collect email addresses.
  • Post Engagement Ads – use this format to boost page posts and get more people to see and engage with your content through likes, views, and comments.
  • Page Like Ads – use this format to get your real estate Facebook page in front of more people.
  • Event Responses Ads – use this format to promote an upcoming open house or local event you’re involved in.
  • Dynamic Ads – use this format to automatically promote your entire catalog of homes for sale to people who have visited your website or expressed interest in a listing. This is fairly advanced Ad format, but if you’re interested in trying to set it up, click here to learn more about it.
  • Link Ads – use this format to persuade people to link on your link. You can choose from the following CTA buttons: Shop Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Book Now, or Download.

In terms of choosing the right ad format for your real estate business, there is really no right or wrong answer. The best thing you can do in the beginning is to test a few different formats and see how your target audience responds.

Not sure which format to start with? Here are some real estate specific ideas that might help:

  • Idea #1: Launch a photo ad that showcases a beautiful room or landscape feature at one of the homes you’re listing.
  • Idea #2: Launch a video ad that gives people a tour of a home and its surrounding neighborhood. Note: This depends on your goal. If your goal is to drive awareness, video ads do well at getting cheap impressions, but if you’re looking for something further down your funnel – this may not be the best ad type.
  • Idea #3: Write an ebook about first-time homebuying tips and launch a lead ad to collect email addresses in exchange for a free download.
  • Idea #4: Launch a carousel ad that showcases multiple rooms from a single home. Note: In our testing, carousel ads do well at getting impressions and engagement, but not as great at driving leads, similar to the video ads.
  • Idea #5: Launch an event responses ad that promotes an open house or event that you’re hosting in the near future.

Need even more inspiration? Check out this great resource from AdEspresso. It offers 43 real-life examples of real estate advertising on Facebook.

4. Hire a Professional Photographer/Videographer/Designer

To get people on Facebook to actually notice and engage with your ad, you need to present them with compelling visuals. Remember: every other business and real estate agent you know is probably using or testing Facebook advertising right now. That means everyone in your target audience is getting absolutely inundated with ads.

As a real estate agent, it’s your job to present ad content that looks better and more interesting than anything else your prospective clients are seeing as they scroll through their newsfeeds. That means no low-quality photos from your personal smartphone, no stock photos, and no cringe-worthy graphics that you tried to make yourself.

To make compelling visuals for your Facebook ads, you’re much better off hiring an expert—someone who can help you tell the right story and present the right message. Depending on which ad formats you are testing, you may want to reach out to a photographer, a graphic designer, a videographer, or all three. If you don’t have someone you regularly work with to help you create professional-grade multimedia for your marketing campaigns, you can find help by:

  • Collaborating with a local business owner. For example, you could partner with a local photographer who specializes in weddings and newborn sessions. Since your target audiences will likely be very similar, you could agree to promote each other’s businesses to your respective clients when possible.
  • Hiring a college student. College students in art and photography programs are often looking for ways to gain more experience. Find the right person by placing flyers around on campus or reaching out to professors.
  • Placing a job ad on LinkedIn. If you’re ready to expand your team, consider hiring someone with photography or graphic design expertise. Use LinkedIn to promote your opening and connect with interested candidates.
  • Joining a BNI. Join a business networking group and ask your contacts to refer you to photographers, videographers, and graphic designers in their networks who might be able to help.

A word of advice when it comes to hiring these types of professionals: you get what you pay for. If you want great visuals that are going to stand out from all that noise filling up everyone’s newsfeeds, be willing to pay for great talent!

5. Spend Time Crafting the Right Message

Like visuals, words are equally as important when it comes to building and launching Facebook ads that help you achieve the goals you set for your real estate business. Your visuals are great at grabbing attention, but you need words to drive action.

The challenge is, there’s no perfect equation you can follow when writing copy to ensure success. In order to figure out what works best for your audience, you’re going to have to be willing to test (and test often) different headlines, call-to-action statements, link descriptions, and post update copy blurbs. Thankfully, the Facebook advertising platform makes it incredibly easy to duplicate ads, revise ads, run tests, and pull insights that you can use to optimize future ad copy.

When writing copy for your Facebook ads, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Write for your audience, not for yourself. Think about what your clients care about. What resonates most with them? What are their pain points? What are they searching for and how can you help?
  • Think about your tone, personality, and style. What makes you different from other agents in your area? How can you portray that in your copy?
  • Keep your call-to-action short and sweet. Keep everything short and sweet for that matter. Don’t try to be too wordy with your ads. Keep everything as simple and clear as possible, and help people understand exactly what you’re asking them to do.
  • Put the most important information first. Assume that the people you’re trying to reach aren’t going to read all the copy in your ad. With that in mind, put the most important or compelling information first or front-and-center for people to see.
  • Make sure your copy aligns with your visual. Don’t leave people scratching their heads wondering what message you were actually trying to get across. Present one clear and cohesive message.

For more help writing effective Facebook ad copy, leverage the tips found in this blog post from AdEspresso.

6. Launch Your Ad

When you finally have all the pieces in place, get ready to launch your Facebook ad. To launch, you’ll need to make your final decisions relating to:

  • Objective – what are you hoping to achieve?
  • Ad Format – how would you like to present your information?
  • Ad Copy & Visuals – what visuals and copy are you going to use in your ad?
  • Audience – who are you trying to target?
  • Budget – how much are you willing to spend per day, or over the lifetime of your ad?
  • Schedule – when do you want your ad to launch and when do you want it to end?
  • Placement – where do you want people in your target audience to see your ad?
  • Optimization & Delivery – how do you want your ad to be delivered to your audience, and when do you want to get charged (example: impressions or link clicks?)

There are a lot of choices and customizations you can make when it comes to building your Facebook ad. The best way to understand how to create and launch an ad is really to just jump in and give it a try. If you need help along the way, leverage this free help guide from Facebook.

To learn more about measuring and optimizing your ads, click here.

7. Leverage Free Resources & Case Studies

As you become more familiar with Facebook ads, make an effort to improve upon your knowledge and skills by leveraging all the free resources and case studies that other businesses and real estate agents are making available to people. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there on the subject, and if you want to get more ROI from your efforts, you need to spend time learning from people who have made all the mistakes and learned the important lessons before you. A quick Google search on a particular topic can provide you a number of great resources that can be used to build more effective Facebook ads for your real estate business.

Over to You

How are you leveraging Facebook Ads to boost awareness, capture more leads, and close more deals for your real estate business? Tell me in the comments below.

About William Harris

William Harris is leading growth at HomeSpotter and is also the Founder & Growth Marketer of Elumynt, LLC., VP of Marketing and Growth for a top 700 online retailer and former head of Marketing for When I Work, a VC backed SaaS company. William is also a contributor to leading publications like The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Sellbrite and a speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow William on Twitter (@WmHarris101), LinkedIn, and Google+.

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