What was the most visited website of 2010? Facebook, according to a recent release from Experian Hitwise. Facebook exceeded Google not only as the top visited website, but also as the most searched item of the year. Here are additional statistics as reported by Facebook:

  • There are more than 500 million active users
  • 50% of those active users log in every day
  • The average user has 130 friends
  • People spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are more than 900 million objects that interact with pages, groups and events
  • The average user is connected to 80 community pages
  • The average user posts about 90 pieces of content each month
  • There are more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
  • Facebook is integrated with over 200 million websites, including 80 of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites
  • More than 200 million users access Facebook from mobile devices and those mobile users are twice as active

According to iStrategeylabs, of the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas, Houston saw the second largest growth of Facebook users, growing 66.1% from 2010 to 2011, less than 1% behind Chicago at 66.8% growth. The demographic group with the most growth was college students, up 233.6% in one year and the fastest growing demographic group joining Facebook was age 18-24.  And, according to the 2010 NAR Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, the largest group of homebuyers was first-time home buyers aged 25-34, accounting for 56% of buyers. A study by e-Marketer shows there are more than 206.2 million internet users just in the U.S. That means 71.2% of that Web audience is active on Facebook. And the 2010 NAR Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers shows that in the last three years, 90% of homebuyers used the Internet.

So Facebook speaks for itself with its growing popularity and use, but how can real estate professionals incorporate it into their businesses and how can they generate a real return on their investment? Here are some tips:

The biggest cost of Facebook is time. It would then make sense to monitor the amount of time spent on Facebook and perhaps incorporate that into your daily schedule so that it is easier to maintain, track and account. Perhaps consider setting aside 30 minutes in the morning and/or 30 minutes in the evening, for example.

You have probably come across “friends” that constantly post about things that don’t matter and you probably have also come across “friends” that flood you with business mentions or opportunities. Don’t be that “friend.” A good mix may be one business-related post to every four personal posts. Also be consistent. Since peak Facebook traffic times are studied to be around 9 a.m., post regularly at that time or consider something like “Tara’s Tuesday Tip?”

Acknowledge that Facebook is an opportunity for you to easily and very inexpensively reconnect with past friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, etc. The 2010 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that 48% of home buyers found their agent through the referral of a friend or family member and 87% of them would use or recommend their agent again in the future. Facebook can be a great way to stay in touch with clients and for them to recommend you as well. As in any other relationship, you must engage with your “friends.” That means stay in touch, ask questions, make posts that are engaging, and also take time to respond to others and their posts. Remember, you are creating a relationship.

While there are many marketing companies that offer to maintain and manage your Facebook account, instead be you. If you are not authentic, how can you create a relationship? Even if it is your business or fan page, you must be you.

For those of you more seasoned with Facebook, generating leads and establishing or re-establishing relationships, contemplate other pages for such issues as:

  • Community
  • City interests
  • County
  • History
  • Subdivisions
  • Area

Like your personal Facebook page, be careful not to push your business. Consider that like any other special interest group or charity work: business is a bi-product of your volunteering efforts.

For those most Facebook advanced, consider Facebook Ads. They have and are becoming increasingly popular and effective. You are able to target a specific status, location or demographic. Facebook Ads is on par with Google AdWords, cost-per-lead, cost-per-customer and cost-per-click advertising. Here is the example Facebook uses:

“Over 12 months, CM Photographics generated nearly $40,000 in revenue directly from a $600 advertising investment on Facebook. Of the Facebook users who were directed to CM Photographics’ website from the ads, 60% became qualified leads and actively expressed interest in more information.” The ad read “Recently Engaged? CM Photographics would love to be a part of your event. Mention this ad for $500 off.” The ad was targeted at an audience that had just changed their Facebook status to “engaged.”

HAR offers Facebook101, Advanced Social Media and a Social Media Designation. For more information, please visit: www.har.com/edu