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Rentbot brings you current tech and online marketing developments in the multifamily industry. And usually we'll also try to make you laugh. Because that's just more fun for everyone.

Massive Change to Facebook Marketplace: Rentals Are Now Here



Facebook Marketplace Rentals vs. Craigslist! ...and your ILS. Oh, and maybe even Google too. 

Facebook Marketplace Rentals just happened. And it's about to get real for Craigslist first, but also Internet Listing Services (ILS). Heck, Facebook could even bite into Google's piece of the pie if users really go for it.
First, let's back up a bit. If you're an owner/property manages of a small to mid sized portfolio, then you needed to get the best return on their small marketing budget. So Craigslist, being free (and pretty clunky), was an obvious initial go-to option for many. 

But Craigslist can take a lot of time, and depending on your target demographic, maybe didn’t even return that many quality leads. Then you got entangled with a pricey ILS contract. Hopefully that's doing something useful for you. And now you've heard about advertising on Google and on Facebook. But which would work better for you? 

It used to be a no brainer for us.We'd pick Google for your budget first every time. That's because the difference between the two is that Facebook is "interest" based and Google is "intent" based. 

Interest vs. Intent and Why it Matters

If you're looking for a Mexican restaurant or a new dentist - you went to Google or Google Maps.  That's intent. (It's also making me hungry for tacos and slightly nervous to make that appointment I need)

Facebook was just for expressing which movies, books, sports, etc. you loved. That’s interest.

Most people who needed to find something, used a search engine (which usually means Google). They don't go to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook.
Then about a year ago, Facebook came up with its Recommendations feature that allowed people to "ask the audience." And the audience was your FB friends. Those people whose opinions you probably care about more since you actually know them. Or you just went to high school with them decades ago and like to "keep up" with them. #surethatsit

Facebook Marketplace Rentals - Set to Grow

But now Facebook has potentially changed the rental listing game in a big way. #RIPCraigslist #yourILSisnext

Facebook Marketplace Rentals follows up on the success they saw earlier this year with used cars being added:
“Since January 1, 2017, Facebook says search volume for the Marketplace tab has grown 3x worldwide. The new addition of vehicles and now, rentals, were driven by how people were using the service, the company notes.”

And exactly how are they able to do this? By partnering with Apartment List and Zumper to get their listings, plus allowing individuals to post listings.

Oh yeah - and since Facebook recently enabled paid advertisements for used cars in the Marketplace, our guess is that it’ll only be a short matter of time before ads are allowed in the Facebook Marketplace Rentals section as well.

Well Now What?

We used to caution small-mid sized property managers against using their limited marketing budget on Facebook ads, and instead point them to Google. Since Google has 2/3 of the search traffic, it's got the best search ROI. And few (if any?) people out there are interested in apartment hunting, but when they need to find one their intent is high.

But I know over the upcoming holiday break, I’m going to be exploring Facebook’s new feature to see what services we can offer interested clients. I’ll report back on the results (vs. Google ads)! 

In the meantime, we’d love to hear if your property is going to try listing in Facebook Marketplace Rentals or if you already have.
Do you think Facebook Marketplace Rentals is a game changer? Or will it be just another advertising channel in a crowded space?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Facebook Marketplace, and local groups, are a fascinating venture in apartment and rental housing listings. It's definitely a unique way to engage with prospective renters, particularly because while it gives them instant access to you as the listing agent, it also gives them access to each other. One of the interesting things I've noted with listings I've posted to both the Marketplace and local buy/barter/sell/rent group pages on Facebook is the unique nature of the resulting conversation.

On a standard ILS, you post and people email you privately to set up appointments or ask questions. On Facebook, prospective renters and local residents put a whole new spin on "social" media: while they may ask direct questions, they'll also discuss amongst themselves, and that is a conversation you as the listing agent cannot really control. For example, at one time I posted a rental that was perceived as over priced for the market, and had to work through how to address the various statements (greedy landlords, overpricing, neighborhood critiques, etc.) without being intrusive in this consumer space. Ultimately, as I think is true of all marketing these days, honesty and transparency was the way to go. I acknowledged people's concerns, and was willing to engage in conversation about the market/pricing/parking/etc. It's risky but can certainly be worthwhile, especially in a place where posting also means you're a member of the community.

  Khara House
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

You're absolutely, right Khara. The personal side of Facebook is a double-edged sword. At it's best, it allows you to personalize your listing. At it's worst, you can feel attacked, misunderstood, etc.

And it sounds like you did exactly what I would have recommended, which is acknowledgement and engagement. Because the bottom line is, those people weren't going to rent there, but if the pricing was truly based in reality then the right renter will see your responses and feel like they can trust you more.

Thanks for sharing and I'd love to hear other "stories from the front lines of social marketing!"

  Jon Yonce

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