Many real estate agents say that social media is their #1 source of leads, but getting leads is only half the battle. Closing transactions is what it’s all about…turning those leads into forever clients.
On this week’s Walkthrough, Las Vegas agent Joe Herrera shares the unconventional system that his team is using not only to generate hundreds of Facebook leads every month, but to also turn those leads into more than 200 deals per year. You don’t want to miss this unique approach to using a Facebook Business Page in ways that few agents are using theirs.
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Links and Show Notes
(SPEAKER: Matt McGee, Host)
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’ve got a great new listing. The home is staged, it looks amazing. The listing price is right where it should be. It’s launch day, so your roll out your marketing plan. You write a beautiful Facebook post about the home, you add the, you know, 5 or 10 best photos, you share it on your Facebook Business Page, and…
[Sound effect: crickets]
Yeah, been there, done that. I know that feeling very, very well. In fact, I just checked on my wife’s latest listing, the Facebook post was seen by a whopping 70 people, and it got one like. From a local title officer. Great, great performance.
What if I told you though that there’s an agent in Las Vegas who’s posting new listings on his team’s Facebook page, and getting hundreds, I mean hundreds of comments, likes, and shares each time? And way more importantly — because let’s face it, you can’t deposit likes and shares in your bank account — way more importantly, they’re gonna close more than 200 deals this year from Facebook leads.
Well, there is an agent like that, and he’s gonna share his unconventional approach with you today.
This is “The Walkthrough.”
Hi there. I’m Matt McGee, Managing Editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center. Welcome to “The Walkthrough.” This is a weekly podcast. We have new episodes that come out every Monday morning. This is the show where you’ll learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re on a journey to find out how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
If you wanna get involved in the show or get in touch with me, you can find me, you can also find today’s guest in our Facebook Mastermind group. Just go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, and the group will come right up.
I was on Twitter a few weeks ago, when I saw a tweet that really caught my eye. Jimmy Mackin — he’s the CEO and co-founder of the real estate marketing platform Curaytor — Jimmy posted about an agent who’s doing 200 deals a year from Facebook. Say what? He also said this agent teaches the system to other agents, but very few ever execute on it. So I thought, hmm, a successful Facebook strategy that sets you apart in your market? Sounds like a perfect fit for “The Walkthrough.” And also sounds like it might be unique. I was right, it is.
The agent in question is Joe Herrera, one-half of the Joe Taylor Team in Las Vegas. Joe got his license 20 years ago. He and his partner formed their team in 2005. They currently have about 50 agents on the team, they’re gonna do about 1,000 transactions total this year. Over the past 10 years or so, they’ve done about 1,500 deals from Facebook with this system that I’ve already described as unique and unconventional. It’s definitely different. There’s gonna be a plot twist or two in this episode. But it’s a system that any agent can R&D if you’re willing to be consistent, persistent, and put in the work.
So, on today’s show, listen for Joe to talk about the hierarchy of clickability — what types of content do people want to engage with online? … how Joe and his team reverse engineered a Facebook system that attracts exactly the type of buyers they wanna work with … and how they turn Facebook “just listed” posts into conversations with hundreds of potential buyers. You may wanna get your marketing person to listen in today. We’re gonna get, I don’t know, a little bit in the weeds. We’re gonna talk about chatbots and stuff like that.
At the very end of the show, I’ll have a One More Minute segment also about social media, so please stay tuned for that. There’s also a quick scheduling note before we wrap things up.
For now, here’s my conversation with Joe Herrera, all about the system that’s bringing in 200 plus deals per year from Facebook.
Matt: As I scroll through your Facebook page, I am looking at the posts where you’re advertising homes for sale. Here’s a couple of most recent ones: 150 reactions, 45 comments, 12 shares, that’s just one post. 166 reactions, 100 comments, and eight shares, that’s another one. The next one I saw 155, 78 comments, 11 shares. This is the kind of engagement that most agents would dream of, especially for, you know, a “just listed” post. What on earth are you doing?
Joe: Well, we’ve been at this for a long time. I think the key for us is we bait a very specific type of fish and stick to that bait. We know what works. We are not… We don’t do it for ego. So it’s not necessarily that when a post doesn’t work, we feel personal rejection, they’re not pictures of our children. So, for us, if we’re running a post on a home, and it ends up not doing well, we stop, and pivot, and go on to the next one. So I think for us it’s a whole strategy around our end goal, starting with the end in mind, we always know exactly what we’re looking to do, which is generate conversations. And so then we craft our posts very specifically to do that.
Matt: Tell me more what you mean when you said, you know, “We are baiting people with what we know they like,” can you expand on that?
Joe: So I’m very committed to the hierarchy of clickability. And so, what I do know is that the number one piece of clickable content on the internet, as evidenced by Harvard studies and everything else, is attractive people. Like number one, people like to click on attractive people. And it’s why attractive agents doing personality type of posts typically do better than unattractive agents on Instagram. And I hate to even talk about it that way but there’s a reason why attractive people are the salespeople or the models for products.
The second most clicked upon item on the internet, when it comes to social media, is generally housing. And I don’t know if we thank Chip and Joanna Gaines, or the Property Brothers, I don’t know who it is we have to thank for that, but there is something that happens when someone is scrolling through their Instagram feed and they see an attractive kitchen, attractive living room, attractive pool and backyard. Whether it’s for vacation rentals, or properties for sale, or whatever it is, people love clicking on attractive homes. And then the third thing people love to click on is food. So it’s people, homes, food. We can only work with what we have as far as personal attractiveness, so…
Matt: Right. [laughs]
Joe: I think we’re decent-looking people, but we’re not the best-looking people in the world. But what we have found is that, as we post pictures of attractive properties, we get a lot of engagement from individuals. And so, once we figured that out, once we understood the psyche of the individual clicking on our posts, then we started to say, like any good fisherman would say, what bait would I use to catch the fish I want to catch? And so, for us, it came down to, you know, we specialize in Vegas, we’ve expanded. We recently moved over to Real Broker which allows us to expand our team kind of into multiple states. And so we’ve gone to Utah now, Arizona.
And everywhere we go, we don’t necessarily start with what homes we wanna advertise because we like them, we always reverse engineer it and we say, “First things first, which clients do we wanna catch with this ad?” So like in Vegas, we want home buyers, move-up buyers in the $500,000 to $700,000 range. So then how do we build an ad around capturing that specific home buyer? And so we kind of work backward from there, if that makes sense.
Matt: It does. And I want to dive into exactly what you’re doing with these posts and I have a bunch of questions about that. But first, let me fast forward to the end, because I know a listener is gonna be like, “All right, this sounds great. I mean, yeah, I’d like to get 100 comments on my just listed post, but is he actually like getting business from this?” So, take me to the end in terms of results you guys see, and then we’ll rewind and come back and explain how it happens.
Joe: Yeah, I have no doubt we’ll hit 250 closed Facebook leads this year, in 2021. I think we’re currently at about 118 and trending upward. So, for us, our goal is 20 closings from Facebook every single month. We’re not as deep on Instagram. The principles are universal, so they work on Instagram, but our bread and butter is Facebook because Facebook lets us do some things different than Instagram allows us to do. So, the end result is we’ll close 250 transactions this year from Facebook. I think we’ve done over 1,500 transactions from Facebook in the last 10 years. And so, every year we do more. I think last year we ended up right around 220, this year we’ll do 250.
Matt: That’s fantastic. I mean, that’s the kind of results that, you know, like I said, agents anywhere would love to have that kind of success with Facebook. So let’s talk about what you’re doing. You are posting, we’re talking about your “just listed” posts, and I think the first thing that I want listeners to know is that a lot of these homes that you’re posting are not your listings, right?
Joe: Yeah. So, we, unfortunately, have a finite number of homes that we personally list. We don’t always have the inventory ourselves to market the property to catch the client, to create the conversation that we wanna create. And so, a lot of times we have other agents in our marketplace that do have that inventory. So, from time to time, it’s a new home that is a standing inventory home that Pulte has. So we’ll reach out to the sales agent at Pulte and say, “Hey, I would love to market your property to our followers on Facebook, and their friends and family, are you good with that?” Or we’ll reach out to other agents at other companies. And we’ll say, “Hey, what’s up it’s Joe with Real Broker, would love to feature your listing at 123 Main Street on our Facebook page, we’ll probably generate about 40,000 eyeballs on the home tomorrow if you’re cool with it.”
Some people tell us to go take a hike. Some people say, “My client doesn’t want any other agents marketing it,” which is a lie. Some people will say, “My broker doesn’t allow it.” And so, we deal with a lot of rejection. We probably get 3 out of every 10 agents we approach, or 3 out of every 10 properties we inquire on will give us a thumbs up and say go ahead. Those agents are the more abundant mindset agents, or they’re the agents that three weeks ago would tell us no, but now three weeks later, they’re still sitting there and they haven’t sold, so they’re a little bit more open-minded. And that was in the beginning how it started.
As it’s progressed now, we have a lot of agents that will reach out to us and say, “Hey, 123 Main Street just went up for sale, would you mind featuring it on your Facebook page?” And so now we get a lot of agents that will reach out to us. And so our goal with our Facebook page, it is not a pageant of the current inventory we possess, our Facebook page is a presentation of the best homes in the whole city. And so, agents become comfortable with knowing that our Facebook page isn’t a “Here is our listings,” our Facebook pages is a, “Here are amazing properties in our marketplace.”
Matt: It sounds like you’re turning your Facebook page into sort of like a localized version of a Zillow, or Redfin, or Trulia?
Joe: One thousand percent. I’m not willing to pay Zillow what they want me to pay them. So Zillow in Vegas wants $200 to $250 per conversation starter. Not even that, $250 per conversation opportunity. We generally generate the leads we generate with an all-in cost of around $10 per conversation starter. So, we say, rather than paying Zillow $250, we’ll do it ourselves for $10. And we know that the people we talk to are actual people, and the only reason those people would give us their information is because they want the information on the property. So, it’s just creating a Zillow quality, which I think is actually higher than Zillow quality lead, for one-twelfth of the cost, or one-twentieth of the cost.
Matt: The other agents, the other brokerages are now at the point where they are coming to you asking you if you would feature their properties on your page. Do you feature all of them?
Joe: No, no. Unfortunately, imagine the, you know, a passenger on a fishing vessel comes up to you and says, “Hey, man, I would love to catch a swordfish, will you toss this hot dog out there?” And you would just have to say like, “Unfortunately, I can’t.” So, it’s easy enough for us to feature any property. Like I could create 100 home posts per day, but Facebook’s rules are, regardless how good the information you put out there is, if you don’t pay them, they won’t put it in front of enough people for it to really make a difference. And so, their algorithm is amazing, if you put some money behind a good piece of content, then they’ll explode it for you. But if you put out a good piece of content without money, it will go nowhere, and if you put out a bad piece of content and put a ton of money behind it, it will still go nowhere. So you have to marry those two things together, the content has to be great, and you have to put money behind it. So every once in a while someone will bring me a property that is just not that great, or it just won’t catch the fish that I wanna catch.
Matt: So a quick recap here. Joe is using both his own listings, and listings from other agents, and advertising them on his Facebook page. He’s created sort of like a mini Zillow just for the Las Vegas area. It features some of the nicest properties that will attract the buyers that he wants to work with. Now, you just heard him say that he’s paying to advertise these listings. All those comments and shares aren’t organic. But Joe told me he’s not going into Facebook Ads Manager and putting together a complicated ad with, you know, all the bells and whistles and everything, he’s literally just boosting each post to the entire city of Las Vegas with no other targeting. And this is important — for each boosted post, he sets the goal to be, “get more messages.” You’re gonna hear more about that in a bit.
Now, let’s talk about the money side of things. Joe says he spends about $8,000 per month boosting these posts, that’s based on reverse engineering. There are 20 agents who are part of his lead program. They need about 800 conversations total per month in order to close 15 to 20 deals. It costs about $10 per conversation, so 800 conversations times $10, comes out to $8,000 per month. Since they do about 15 to 20 deals though, Joe says they typically end up with about a 10x, or 20x ROI. So that’s the financial side of Joe’s Facebook listing ads system. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.
Let me go back. I just thought of one other question related to the relationship, the conversations you’re having with the other brokerages and the other agents. If you are getting all the leads for your agents, what is in it for them? Are they paying for this?
Joe: Ultimately what’s in it for them is free promotion for their listing. So, the only reason agents agree to do it is they either understand something upfront, or they come to understand something a few weeks in. So, upfront, a lot of agents are like, “Blow it up. Like, I don’t care.” Because ultimately their number one job, their fiduciary responsibility is what is in the best interest of their client. What’s in the best interest of every single client and every market I’m in is, let me blow their house up for them. Like it costs the client nothing, and then to be even awesomer, it costs the agent nothing. So like why on earth wouldn’t every agent in Vegas say, “Joe, please, please, please, spend $700 for me to advertise my listing,” because 99% of agents would never spend that much money. So, what’s in it for them is free promotion.
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Matt: You are getting dozens of comments on these posts. Most of the comments I see are things like, “What’s the price? What’s the location?” Because you’re not explaining that in what you’ve posted. Tell me how you are replying to each of these comments and how those comments, like how does that conversation get started?
Joe: So it’s pretty nonsensical, to be honest with you. Any time anyone comments on one of our properties, they get a notice from, we use Manychat, manychat.com. It’s an autoresponder robot. So, every time I create an ad, I kick off a robot that whenever somebody comments on one of our posts, they automatically get a message from our page. And the message will say something along the lines of, “This is an amazing property that’s been remodeled and it’s on a huge lot… Interested?” People, which I love, interpret that as someone at 1 in the morning typing that message out to them. Because I’ll post at home at 10:00 at night, and they’ll get a message at 1 in the morning because they’ll comment at 1 in the morning, and then they will reply to that message, like, “Oh, wow, I can’t believe you guys are awake.”
So anyways, everything we do is conversation-starting. And so, it literally, everything we do is a question. So, that happens when someone comments. When someone clicks “send message,” an automated, pre-formed question with three clickable answers pops up, and this is built by Facebook. So I’ll say, “This is an amazing property on a huge lot that’s been completely remodeled, how can we help you?” And then the three options are, text me all the info, how much is it, and I wanna go see it. So those are the three options they can click on. So when they click one of those, then the message goes to my girl sitting at her desk, and based on what they said, then she’ll start the conversation.
Long story short, all conversations end at one very specific place, which is, “Thanks for inquiring on this property. What’s a good phone number to have an agent text you all the details?” Or they’ll say, “Hey,” so they’ll reply to that message with, “Just send them right here.” Now, luckily, the girl that does all this for me is not a real estate agent. So, she’s able to honestly say back to them, “To be honest, I’m not a Realtor, let me have an agent reach out to you because it goes outside of my scope to be able to start quoting prices like that to you on properties. So, what’s a good phone number for you?”
Now, in reality, that really pisses off about 10% of the people we talk to. So we get some really negative reactions to that, but it’s just part of the process. Like if you go mine for gold, you’re gonna dig up some shoes [?]. Things are gonna happen when you’re doing business this way, and so, we’ve become very thick-skinned. So she knows, and she’s been at it now about a year, she doesn’t take it personally, but some people get really upset with that process. But for us, it’s all start a conversation online to create a conversation offline, and like that’s very much our process is. How do we start a conversation, and then how do we take the conversation offline?
Matt: Facebook leads are notoriously hard to convert, Joe, what is the secret? What’s your follow-up look like in order to get these folks to actually become buyers?
Joe: With Facebook, the reason we can create them so cheaply but why people struggle so much to convert them, is it’s typically a longer sales cycle. That’s part of it is, our guys know that they’re in it for the long haul. So a good buddy of mine, Chris Smith, over at Curaytor wrote a book called “The Conversion Code.” And he talks about in there, the likelihood of conversion of a lead is generally on attempt number 12. So we very much train our agents that like, “Hey, just because you get a lead today doesn’t mean that they’re gonna go into contract tomorrow. It does happen, but you’ve got to be in this for the long haul, and you may not even get to contact number 12 for 6 months, but you’re gonna need money in 6 months just as bad as you need money today.” So like, for us, it’s all about getting to that 12th contact. The quicker we can get to the 12th contact, the quicker we’re able to determine whether or not we’re ever gonna convert them.
So we’ve got a pretty detailed out lead conversion system as far as attempts. When the lead comes in, three attempts the first day, three attempts the second day, three attempts the third day, double dialing people, you know? Like if you get a call right now from a number you don’t recognize, and you send it to voicemail, and they call you right back, instantly you think, is someone I love in trouble? Is this my buddy calling to say, “Hey, let’s go play a round of golf?” Like who dares to double dial me? So we teach our agents to double dial.
My agents, to be honest, if you ask them, believe that they are better at converting Facebook leads than Zillow or realtor.com leads, but it’s just because they’re highly skilled and trained at converting this very specific type of lead. So, if somebody says they can’t convert Facebook leads, I would call BS on it. The math equation I use, to kind of geek out on you a little bit, is, O times C plus P, which is opportunity, so if someone’s not converting Facebook leads, it’s because they have crappy opportunities, they’re probably trying to convert raw, hard, forced registration Facebook leads, or the agent lacks either consistency or persistence. Because if they’re persistent, they will have momentary success, but if they’re not consistent, it will never become permanent. And if they are consistent but not persistent, they probably won’t ever convert anything, because any type of lead conversion requires persistence.
Matt: Did this system work right away when you started doing it? What did you have to figure out along the way?
Joe: There was a RE/MAX guy out of Canada by the name of Craig Proctor. In 2005, probably, we went to Palm Springs, and he was the OG “put up a billboard, I’ll sell your home in 30 days or I’ll buy it myself” guy. What I learned from Craig, as one of 10,000 people in the audience sitting 400 yards away, was, do what everybody else can do, but just talk about it in a very different way, and you’ll find success. So, when we started messing around with Facebook and advertising properties, we very quickly realized Facebook is no different than Craigslist.
Craigslist used to be the promised land, like for free you could generate a whole bunch of ads or leads on Craigslist. And so, there was trial and error as far as, you know, I would say we were doing forced registration ads for five years, and over the last year, we were like, “We’re gonna stop that, you know, it’s just burning people out.”
So, what have we learned? I think we’ve learned that the problem with Facebook leads are the people who convert them because most agents don’t have the persistence and the consistency to do it over a long enough period of time to actually convert them.
I’ve learned that most agents will never call leads you give them. When we were up at Zillow, so Zillow brought us up there three years ago and tried to sell us on a $20,000 a month Zillow package to give us, you know, 100 leads or whatever it was. And they told us that 60% of the leads that people pay for Zillow, like I pay $250 and get one lead, only 40% of them are ever called or something like that, it was crazy.
So there’s been lots of trial and error around that. Our process of lead generation hasn’t changed for the last five years. Like if you go back five years ago, the homes were generally really good pictures, we typically, we don’t give out price and location in our ad. So it’s a pay-to-play system where if people want the information, they need to communicate with somebody. It’s no different than a registration wall on any other website around America, that when you click on a property and you click view more info, it would ask for your information, we just do it in probably a more human way. So I’ve learned a lot of those lessons.
The mistakes you make are if you have agents that are willing to convert leads, but you’re not willing to spend the money to generate them, or if you generate a whole bunch of leads but you don’t have the agents with the stick-to-it-iveness to convert them. Either way, you’re wasting a bunch of money. So my constant obsession is, how do I create good leads? And then, how do I find good agents willing to convert them?
Matt: I did a quick little survey in our listener community just a couple days ago asking, “How often do you use your Facebook page to advertise a home for sale from another agent on another team or another brokerage?” Joe, very few, if any, said that they ever do it, the ones that do it do it very infrequently. So, with that in mind, that this is kind of a strange idea or maybe an idea that not a lot of agents do or want to do, what kind of final words of advice or words of wisdom would you wanna share with my listeners?
Joe: So, my parting advice would be to begin with the end in mind. Decide for yourself what your Facebook page is. Is it a reputation-building tool where you satisfy your homeowners by promoting their listing? Then it very much doesn’t matter what you do as long as you put some money behind it. But if it is a lead generation tool, you’re probably going to and you become comfortable with having peers, other people you respect, tell you to go screw yourself when you ask them to advertise their listing because 5 out of every 10 people you ask would say, “Yeah, no, why would I ever let you advertise my listings?” And so you have to become comfortable and your skin gets tougher around that. But it all satisfies, like the means all satisfy the end. I’m going to do 250 deals this year from Facebook, we’ll do 300 next year, the next year I want to do 400, and it’s all the same boring crap I do while watching “Ted Lasso” at 10:00 at night, but it’s all because the ends are justified, whatever means it takes to get there.
(Speaker: Matt McGee, Host)
I told you it was an unconventional approach, but, I don’t know, I really like the idea of turning your Facebook page into a lead generation machine by using all kinds of great homes for sale and not just focusing on your own listings. Super clever approach.
Hey, a One More Minute segment is coming up at the very end of the show, I also have a quick schedule update in just a moment. But right now, let’s do our Takeaways segment. Here’s what stood out to me from today’s conversation.
Takeaway number one, the idea behind this unique system is to generate conversations. The system is very, very intentional about trying to start conversations with exactly the buyers that Joe and his team want to attract.
Takeaway number two, they’re turning their Facebook page into a local version of Zillow or Redfin, a place where locals can see all kinds of new and beautiful homes for sale, and not just their own listings. But the majority, Joe said, are homes from other agents and brokerages. The listing agent gets the added exposure, and Joe’s team gets all the buyer leads.
Takeaway number three, Joe is doing a simple boosted post with each home that they’re promoting, nothing complicated in Facebook Ads Manager. They boost the post to all of Las Vegas, and they set “get more messages” as the goal. Then they have a chatbot called Manychat that engages with everyone who comments on the post. At the end, one of the team admins will get involved and pass the contact on to an agent.
Takeaway number four, Facebook leads are usually a long-term nurture. Joe trains his agent that it’s probably gonna take upwards of 12 contacts to convert the leads. So, you have to be consistent and persistent in your follow-up.
All right, if you have questions or feedback for me or Joe, you can leave a voicemail or send a text, the number is 415-322-3328. You can send an email to walkthrough [at] homelight.com, or find me and Joe in our Facebook Mastermind group. Just go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, and the group will come right up.
Quick programming note, no Walkthrough next week on September 20th. My wife and I are taking our youngest child to college. Yes, so I’ll need a few days off to deal with that, and also to deal with the emotional wreckage afterward. Back with a new episode on September 27th, one of our HomeLight Elite agents is going to share the one-page strategic plan that helped him double his business.
That’s all for this week. Thanks to Joe Herrera for joining me, and thank you for listening. My name is Matt McGee, and you’ve been listening to “The walkthrough.” At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re on a journey to find out how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
Go out and safely sell some homes, I’ll talk to you again in two weeks. Bye-bye.
Welcome back, and welcome to another edition of One More Minute. As long as we’re talking about social media, a quick word of advice.
You’ve seen those 30-day social media posting calendars, right? Maybe you’ve downloaded one, maybe you’ve downloaded several, that’s great, those things can be really, really helpful.
But, my advice is this, don’t lock yourself into using someone else’s strategy and tactics. Look at those calendars more like a 30-day idea sheet, not something that you have to follow lock, stock, and barrel. Some of the content suggested on those calendars might not fit your business, might not fit your personality or your market. So experiment with the ideas that might work, be patient, double down on the stuff that does work, and then build your own posting calendar around that.
That’s One More Minute, I’m Matt McGee. Thanks for listening. See you in two weeks with another Walkthrough.
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