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The Story Of The $1.1 Million Facebook Referral And Century 21 Realty’s New Social Media Era

84% of Realtors are currently using social media. Century 21 is leveraging Facebook to turn those conversations into sales.

A $1.1 million sale recently reeled in by Justin Robbins and Tiffany Hampton of Century 21 Samia Realty in
Westbrook, Maine, started with a note from a lead on their competitor’s Facebook business page. But he’d waited. And waited. “He had commented on his own post in shock that no one in [the competitor’s] office wanted a million-dollar referral,” Robbins tells Fast Company. So the Century 21 agents sent him their own friend request, and he accepted, then “watched our business and our positive posts and then referred his high-end clients to us,” Robbins says.

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century 21 fb app

In a really tough time for home sales, Realtors are embracing social media more than ever. Postling
found that 84% of real estate professionals are now using social media. The potential for
Facebook-generated sales has not been lost on Century 21. The corporate page
has been active since 2007, about the same time the housing market started
declining. Century 21 currently counts over
19,000 fans but still wanted to add value for brokers and buyers.

Armed with data from the National Association of Realtors
that 94% of consumers involved in a home transaction go online first, the brand
just launched an additional interactive Facebook application. “Our objective is to facilitate a
conversation,” Century 21’s chief marketing officer Bev Thorne says, so the tool is designed to help consumers connect with agents and
drive leads directly from the social networking site. “It’s not just a ‘like’ button,” she adds.

Companies such as Re/Max have more fans on
Facebook than Century 21, but they provide a re-direct to the Re/Max corporate site when “Contact a
Local Agent
” is clicked. Century 21’s app lets brokers grant access to their current listings and be
contacted by potential clients directly through Facebook. It also provides
customers with research tools such as the mortgage calculator or mobile app.

This comes at a critical time. Sales of existing homes took
a hit last month, according to the National Association of Realtors. Thorne says about 500 of their 60,000 U.S. realtors have already adopted the
app on their Facebook business pages in the first two weeks.

Robbins says he was one of the first. As Team Hampton & Robbins of Century 21 Samia Realty, Robbins started the Facebook experiment last
September, at a time when southern Maine, like the rest of the country, was
barely peeking around the corner of a rebound in sales. Maine Real Estate News
reports that 2009 was one of the worst years on record and that the inventory
of homes on the market is still high. 

So far, he says the feedback has been outstanding. “We
personally love the ability to be branded with the Century 21 app and be viewed
as industry leaders when it comes to technology. It drives traffic to our own
blog site and the online tools are great plus to offer to customers. Facebook has an amazing ability to project the brand in the community in a very
positive way, best of all for free.”

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[Lydia Dishman is a Fast Company reporter and producer of 30 Second MBA. email | Twitter]

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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