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Realtors, are you wasting your time on Facebook?

Shifting Facebook use

Today, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report outlining how users are engaging Facebook and what shifts have occurred in user behavior over the last two years, with interesting results.

The report is based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from October 20 to November 28, 2010 on a sample of 2,255 adults, age 18 and older.

If you’ve been to a real estate or technology conference, you’ve likely been told the outdated (and commonly quoted) stat that the average Facebook user has 100 friends but this new study reveals that the American average is 229 Facebook friends, doubling in recent years.

Facebook friends – mostly high school connections

When the respondents were asked who they send and accept friend requests from, the most common answer was high school connections, accounting for 22% of all of their Facebook friends while college friends only accounted for 9%. Extended family accounted for 13% while immediate family was 8%. Coworkers account for one in ten friends of the average Facebook user while 2% are neighbors and 7% from volunteer groups.

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Strangers versus IRL friends

What was intriguing about the research is that one third of all Facebook friends could not be classified into any of the aforementioned categories. Princeton Survey Research Associates asked respondents how much of their Facebook network were strangers never met in person or people they knew in real life (IRL).

Only 7% of Facebook friends are people that users have never met in person, and only 3% are people who have met only one time. Pew said that “the remainder is friends-of-friends and social ties that are not currently active relationships, but “dormant” ties that may, at some point in time, become an important source of information.”

Increase in real life confidants connecting on Facebook

Respondents were asked how many of their real life confidants they had connected with on Facebook and the largest increase is predictably in the over 50 age group with a dramatic increase of connections with the most important note that should be pointed out being that collectively, the respondents noted that they have connected with nearly half of all of their real life confidants on Facebook. We anticipate this number will continue to increase.

Realtors, are you wasting your time on Facebook?

A large portion of the real estate industry is investing time on Facebook, some personally and other professionally but is it a waste of time? If you are on Facebook, look at the charts above to see where your strengths lie- it’s not all bad news!

Are you friends with anyone from high school or have you avoided that? If you’ve avoided those connections, user behavior indicates they are more willing to connect with you than any other group.

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Bloggers tonight went wild picking out the stat that only 7% of Facebook connections are strangers which seemingly bodes poorly for a Realtor seeking to make new connections (or generate leads as it were). We do not believe this to be bad news for people seeking new connections not only because this 7% has likely increased over the years, but because the survey didn’t take into account the likelihood of people following professionals within their own city but not other cities (which we believe to be common), the jury is still out on this stat.

Realtors, you’ve still got a shot of making that personal connection but what this 7% really tells us is that users are probably more likely to “like” a professional via Facebook page than connect personally unless they’ve met in person, so Realtors, get offline and get face to face. It’s still the best way to go and Facebook is simply a communication channel to support that belly to belly interaction.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.



  1. BawldGuy

    June 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Who'd a thunk?

  2. SFVrealestate

    June 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    You're forgeting that FB is an excellent, low-impact way to stay in touch with past clients. Past clients are responsible for 50% of my current biz through their referrals.

  3. TIna Fine

    June 18, 2011 at 7:32 am

    After the transaction, when the broker is no longer representing the seller, is the appropriate time for a broker to friend a client. Don't put your client in the position of having to refuse you as a friend during the listing period.

  4. Chuck Gillooley

    June 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

    This actually isn't all that surprising, and it adds credence to the advice we've been given all along to start a Facebook Page for your real estate business — FB is for "friends" and your page is for your business.

    If I were to do the same analysis on my own FB usage as they did above, virtually everyone who is a "friend" of mine on FB is someone who I know or have met in person. On the other hand, probably 90% of the followers of my FB page (which is 2x larger than the number of friends) are people that I have never met before, and are following the page for the RE and local information that I write there.

    Over time, there's a logical point to cross over and friend a few of the people who follow the business page, particularly if they have become clients. And it's a great way to take that next step of familiarity with your past clients, as SFVRealestate said above.

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