Local Newspaper vs Facebook Ads: the verdict for property?

fb vs local newsWith so many of the UK population now using Facebook, should estate agents continue using newspapers to fly their flag?

Many agents feel tied to using local newspaper advertising and leaflet drops to attract new instructions but in this day and age it is arguably an antiquated and possibly ineffectual way of reaching and influencing local property owners.

So how do you go about measuring and comparing local newspapers vs Facebook?  This depends on what you are hoping to achieve.

Conventionally, an estate agent would advertise in the local newspaper to give themselves visibility to attract new instructions. As an estate agent, you’ll probably do this because:

  • people will think you’re one of the established agents
  • your competitors do it
  • sellers will buy the paper to find active, successful agents
  • buyers will look in the local paper to find properties
  • that’s what you’ve always done

These are all valid motives, IF newspapers are getting the readership and IF there aren’t any other effective ways to reach people. But the times are a changing and estate agents are generally being slow to act on this (which gives more innovative estate agents a great opportunity to steal a march on competitors!)

Readership of local newspapers will vary from place to place – in some locations, and with certain demographics, local press may still be very important. But on the whole, the market for local newspapers is massively shrinking.

Facebook on the other hand has an enormous and growing following, and it has numbers to prove it.

Local newspapers are in decline

Meanwhile sales of local newspapers are fast decreasing. As The Independent reports this month,

“Sales [of regional media] are in freefall – down by an average of 13.5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2014. The poor South Wales Argus fell by an eye-watering 33.2 per cent and the Doncaster Star sold barely 1,000 copies a day.”
The Independent

Interestingly, readers of national newspapers are changing their habits too, with the majority tending to access them from their mobiles.

The world has not only gone digital, it’s gone mobile. And these includes your prospective property sellers.  And mobile internet usage in the UK is particularly high compared to other countries. We’re not just talking US stats here.

More than half of UK readers of four national titles access the sites only from mobile devices – not in print nor via a computer – according to the latest National Readership Survey report released in August 2015. Intriguingly, some 56.9 per cent of Independent readers access the title only from their smartphones or tablets, followed by 53.2 per cent at the Daily Mirror, 51.5 per cent at the Express and 50.7 per cent at the Guardian.

Mintel’s report on UK Regional Newspapers August 2015 concludes that

“regional/local newspapers continue to struggle as the industry faces print circulation declines, job losses and closures. Publishers are putting extra investment into developing their online products in terms of content, format, advertising and paywalls in order to best compensate for the decline of print.”

Of course there’s still a market for local news but, like everything else, it’s moved on-line and on mobile.  How well has your estate agency adapted to this new world?

Are you leveraging the most widely read and influential on-line platform in your catchment area?  Facebook now drives more referrals to news websites than Google.  [Fortune, 18 August 2015]

Is your estate agency just casually tinkering with Facebook or are they using it as a considered strategic marketing tool?

Facebook is growing fast

Facebook has nearly 1.5bn active users worldwide, 13% more than last year. (Twitter has 316 million worldwide). Of these, 65% access it daily. And as I write this today, 30 August 2015, for the first time over a billion people used Facebook on a single day last Monday.

But the key question is how do you get home-owners to invite your agency to pitch when they want to sell?

Newspaper vs Facebook?

If property sellers only look at their local paper when they want to find an estate agent, it’s acting a bit like a directory. None of your advertising has had any effect until they open the pages and they survey the estate agency landscape.  Wouldn’t it be more effective if they had a preconceived idea of what your agency is all about before they decide to sell?  And wouldn’t you like to influence this?

With Facebook posts you can control the frequency. Assuming you have relevant and interesting content, you can drip feed posts to your audience all year round and they will think of your agency as one of the most active and popular in their area.  You can punch above your weight. If you consistently showcase particular types of property that you’ve sold, to people in that location, they will also associate you with being effective and successful.

Unlike a leaflet door drop, you can do this time and again and at scale. Unlike newspaper advertising, with Facebook, home owners will see your posts whether they’re looking to sell or not. In marketing speak, you are “nurturing” your prospects.  You can’t do that in local newspaper advertising.

The Verdict

Facebook is an extremely powerful marketing platform for estate agents, but like many sophisticated tools it needs expertise and understanding to drive it.  It’s not sufficient to just post content ‘organically’, [see why in this blog post]  you need to know how to target your audiences and engage with them.

When you consider that Facebook’s market capitalisation is greater than American Express and Samsung combined, there’s a message there that they have something of value.

Local press advertising still has a role, but agents that rely on it for awareness are missing a pretty big trick.

More information on Tactical Results Facebook Advertising for Estate Agents: www.tacticalresults.co.uk/facebook-marketing-for-estate-agents/

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