For the past 3 years or so, I have been helping my clients post ads for their listings and real estate services on Craigslist, and in the beginning it was a lovely service to offer. They were getting great leads without having to pay a dime. Sure, it took some time to put together and post the ads, but it was great to be able to tell a client that we can generate leads without additional ad costs.
It was also the perfect opportunity for companies like ours to develop products to help clients post ads more effectively on Craigslist.
And that’s just what we did. We spent months developing a product that would combine online listing flyers with USP (unique selling proposition) ads to generate the maximum amount of traffic to the website. It was wonderfully complex and would surly be the most innovative thing to hit the market.
After a stellar launch, there was more interest in it than any other product we had put out before. Our clients were extremely excited about it and new business was coming in as a result. And then.......... the ghosts came (insert scary music here).
Ghosting is when your ad appears to be accepted by Craigslist, but is not actually posted to the list of ads. You will receive a confirmation email from Craigslist saying your ad was accepted, and the link will direct you to what looks like a successfully posted ad online, but if you search for it on the list it wont show up. The ad is there, but can't be seen by anyone. It is a "ghost".
There are benefits to posting ads on Craiglist simply because it gets a massive amount of traffic on a daily basis. Should you build your business around it? Definitely not. And it is always dangerous to rely on one method of advertising (especially when it’s free).It can be very easy to get sucked into trying to "game the system" when your time could be better used elsewhere.
But, there are still some great ways for real estate agents to advertise on Craigslist.
Just yesterday I recorded a webinar specifically on this and what you can do to avoid the ghosting issues. Click here to access the Craigslist webinar video.
I also recommend the following quick tips to those who want to successfully post on Craigslist:
- Make sure you have a strong headline. The most effective headlines within Craigslist contain the geographic Area, unique type of home (fixer upper, foreclosure/Distress, luxury etc.) and the type of prospect (first time buyer, investor, home seller etc.)
- If you plan to post more than once a day, create multiple accounts. You will also need multiple phone numbers for verification purposes
- Use images for your ads instead of .html.
- Try posting in the "Real Estate Services" category rather than "Real Estate For Sale", especially if you are offering a free list of homes, real estate reports or an online home evaluation.
The bottom line: Blocking, ghosting and flagging are not unique to real estate advertisers. They are problems that have become widespread among all Craigslist users, whether they are spammers, legitimate businesses or innocent individuals. It can be even more frustrating because the conditions that cause these problems are not consistent from city to city. And Craigslist seems to be firm in its refusal to openly deal with the matter.
In the end, the most I can do is try to address the Craigslist needs of our members and remain committed to helping them succeed. And as Ray Parker once sang in that mildly popular 80’s tune “I ain't afraid of no ghosts”.
Egg Harbor Township, NJ