Facebook is, without a doubt, the most popular social media platform in the world. More than 1.3 billion people use Facebook, which means that it’s the ideal platform for real estate marketing, right?

Facebook is prioritizing content from influencers, which is good news: Realtors® already act as influencers!

It can be, but it’s not as simple as making a “Page” and hoping people flock to it. Facebook is valuable, but sometimes you have to dig deeper in order to unearth its treasures. Part of that digging means keeping astride of the infamous “algorithms,” understanding how they affect you, and weeding out fact from fiction.

Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the platform is currently undergoing some major changes that will likely affect the way you use it for your business. Although you may have to re-assess the execution of some of your current and future marketing campaigns, these changes also provide an opportunity to innovate and connect with your audience in new ways!

For those readers who might be a little unclear about the different ways to interface with friends or audiences on Facebook – having a profile versus a page or being in a group – let’s take a quick minute to break it down.

Once you create an account, a Facebook Profile is automatically generated for you. Your Profile allows you, as an individual, to interface with the world of Facebook. You may have noticed that your Profile can also be used to create a Facebook Page. Your Page serves as a mini-website for your business and/or a Group, which is a forum dedicated to a specific topic or interest.

Because of these multiple options, Realtors® often struggle with deciding which one to use for their marketing efforts.

Whether you’re still deciding which option to choose, or whether you’re already “full steam campaign,” let’s look at how you can use one of Facebook’s new algorithms to your advantage.

According to Forbes, Facebook’s 2018 changes will largely impact the type of content (ads and/or posts of any kind) we receive in our feeds. Until recently, Facebook favored paid content over organic posts. As a result, users were often disappointed since they felt like their friends and family weren’t seeing what they posted.

What’s more, if you managed a Facebook Page (remember, your Page is generally your business platform), you would have needed to run a paid ad to ensure that your content was actually seen by your audience.

So, users started asking the question, “Why use a free social network if no one in your network can engage with what you share?”

Zuckerberg answered, announcing that Facebook is making a change to de-emphasize paid content from Pages. Instead, they intend to encourage posts from “influencers.”

If you’re wondering just what an “influencer” is, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, a social media influencer is “an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.”

Before you start heading down the self-defeating path of thinking that this new algorithm will EXCLUDE more of your posts, think again: Realtors® already act as influencers. You’re the expert of your industry and market, and you use your knowledge to help your clients make major purchases.

So, Real Estate Influencer, with that new paradigm in mind, here are three ways you can use Facebook marketing to expand your network to share your valuable ideas and services with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of new clients!

Create a group for local buyers and sellers

A Facebook Group has become a popular way for influencers and coaches to build a community and convert that community into clients. Easy Agent Pro calls Facebook Groups “goldmines” for agents. Consider making a Group for prospective buyers and sellers specific to location – for example, “Home Buyers and Sellers in Dallas, Texas.” Be sure to use relevant tags so people can find it! You may consider making the Group “Private” to add an air of exclusivity to it. (It’s recommended to make it “Private,” not “Secret,” so it will still show up when users search for it.) Another benefit to creating a Group is that Facebook prefers Group content over Page content, so those in the Group are almost guaranteed to see significantly more Group posts than those from a Page.

The Group should function as an educational forum, rather than just a place for you to post links to available properties (which you can, and certainly should, do). You can post updates about the market; tips and tricks about how to shop for a new home; and stories about your recent sales or clients (always respecting privacy as appropriate). A regular Q&A session in your Group will also position you as someone with expertise.

A Group may seem like a lot of work, but you don’t have to engage daily, or even weekly, with the members in it. If you cultivate a community, the members will contribute their own questions, thoughts, and content (for instance, letting the other members know that they’ll be listing their home for sale!). Ultimately, this is another method for connecting with clients in a meaningful way.

Collect leads using Facebook’s tools

Facebook’s algorithm changes will suppress posts with external links (URLs linking to sites other than Facebook). To mitigate this, REALTOR® Mag recommends creating a lead generation ad and using Facebook’s form builder to easily collect information from prospective clients. When you create this type of ad, visitors don’t have to leave Facebook to give you their information, which means Facebook is more likely to display it in newsfeeds. For information on Facebook ads (and inspiration for creating your own!) and to find out more about Facebook’s business tools, click here.

Run a contest to generate leads

A Facebook contest is a great way to generate leads from your existing network and their networks. Social media contests are often called “Google food” by marketers because they facilitate word-of-mouth referrals, and referrals are the best source of business for Realtors®. Your contest doesn’t have to be a costly, time-consuming campaign, nor does it even need to be related to real estate.

For example, you could hold a “cutest pet contest” and encourage people to post their pet photos on your Facebook Page or in your Group. Get more bang for your buck by having them tag a friend for an extra entry. As a winning prize, offer a gift card from a local coffee shop or pet store, or even Amazon.com! Get creative in your prize offerings, and if you have a larger following, consider partnering with a local business to sponsor the prize! Don’t let the thought of creating a contest intimidate you, though. Facebook’s contest builder takes you through the steps to easily collect information from the entrants and build your database.

Ultimately, Facebook works best when you offer your audience something authentic and approachable. Get familiar with Facebook’s built-in tools to ensure a smooth user experience for your visitors. The more organic interactions you have, the more it will help your marketing efforts and in developing long-lasting relationships with potential clients.