Do you have a Facebook page for your real estate business or brand? If you're smart and serious about selling real estate, you do, as the world’s leading social media platform is a powerful tool for any Realtor to connect and communicate with their audience. In fact, there are now an average of 1.28 billion active users every day on Facebook, and 1.94 billion monthly active users.
But more than just posting vacation selfies and revealing our relationship status, Facebook has grown into one of the biggest drivers of consumer traffic in large part thanks to Facebook reviews. In fact, Facebook recently surpassed Google as the top source of search traffic, a monumental shift in the search query paradigm.
Facebook’s rating system – that series of stars with the corresponding numeric rating that accompany many Facebook business pages - is an integral part of how we find, use, and perceive companies these days; including Realtors.
In fact, about 66 percent of all consumers will leave a review for a recent purchase, service, or visit. And the majority of consumers read up to six online reviews before forming an opinion whether they’ll patronize that business or not.
Therefore, savvy sales professionals are focusing their attention and even resources on their reviews and star rating on Facebook as a means to connect and interact with home buyers and sellers.
How do Facebook reviews work?
To drastically simplify, more positive reviews = better ranking = higher visibility = more new customers and clients.
Now, a little more in-depth. Just like Google has its complex system of ranking search queries (including businesses) based on 200 independent factors, Facebook uses its own proprietary algorithm called EdgeRank. You don’t really need to worry about the particulars of EdgeRank like Affinity, Weight, Time Decay, but just know that the more reviews you have and the better your star rating, the more visible your business will be on Facebook users’ newsfeeds, as well as show up on specific searches.
Do Facebook reviews matter that much?
Garnering more positive reviews absolutely will make a significant impact on your business’ growth and customer acquisition, according to multiple studies. For instance, the Social Recommendations Index found that 71 percent of Facebook users trust the content that they see on there, including reviews. And Forbes magazine reported that 88 percent of consumers perceive online reviews as trustworthy.
Furthermore, Facebook reviews left by your Facebook friends, friends of friends, or those in your same community, hold additional weight and influence over consumer purchase decisions.
Here are some of the other benefits of Facebook reviews:
• Direct and immediate communication with your audience
• Gain invaluable feedback and learn the “buzz” about your brand
• They are free!
• Establish credibility
• Transparency (you can see who is writing these reviews, establish who they are, and even contact them)
• Can respond or react in a public forum
• Increase EdgeRank and visibility
• Foster trust
• Opportunity to turn negative or neutral perceptions into positive experiences
• Identify potential brand advocates
• Improve web traffic
• Demonstrate social proof
The importance of social proof
Let’s pause and talk about that last one, for a moment. Demonstrating social proof is paramount for businesses these days, as it has become a typical prerequisite to the decision-making and purchase cycle. Various studies found that:
• 90 percent of all customers surveyed say that their decisions to buy a product or service are influenced by online reviews,
• 85 percent of all online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, and
• 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
How to get more Facebook reviews:
• Ask your buyers or sellers to leave a Facebook review immediately upon using your service or patronizing your business. (Remember that you can even ask people for a great review if you just gave them a CMA or answered their questions!)
• Include the link where they can leave a Facebook review whenever possible – both in print and an active digital link.
• Share this link across different platforms, like on your website, email signature, and even other social media posts and profiles.
• Share (and celebrate!) those great Facebook reviews. Glowing customer opinions constitute the best free marketing you’ll ever get!
• Email your database a request to gain more reviews.
• Run a promotion that fosters reviews. This is a FANTASTIC way to create more interest and gain exposure.
Rules and regulations governing reviews
But before you start planning your next campaign to earn 100 new Facebook reviews, you should be aware that there are some things that you can’t do for reviews. For instance, per Facebook guidelines, you can run a promotion or giveaway with the requirement that someone leaves a review as their entry, but you can’t request that they share that review (or anything else) on their personal page, and you definitely can’t filter for only good reviews.
Most people don’t realize that they can also end up in serious trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for mismanaging reviews, too.
The FTC set forth their guidelines for Truth in Advertising in 2009, including a mandate that any company must disclose if they're compensating people for online testimonials, endorsements, or reviews. Over the last decade, a long list of companies have been flagged and fined by the FTC for violations, including some that were offering discounts, prizes, and other incentives in exchange for reviews – a big no-no.
If your company or brand is planning on making a big push for new reviews, it’s worth reviewing Facebook’s guidelines as well as the FTC regulations in detail.
We’ll bring you part two of this series on Facebook reviews very soon, with tips and best practices for responding to positive, neutral, and (especially) negative Facebook reviews from customers.
Need help with your real estate and mortgage marketing? We can help!