Are You Following These 7 Social Media Rules for Realtors?
Social media is a powerful marketing tool, but Realtors® need to be careful about the image they portray online.
Dawn Dell is ex-military and admits she is outspoken. In the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, she got angry that people continually refused to comply with the “stay at home” rule and still went to work.
“I didn’t like it. Some people were just saying they ‘just wanted to live,’” says Dell, broker-associate at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Property Group in Sebring. “I got a little vocal on social media, and it wasn’t in good taste.”
She ended up taking it down but not before others voiced their objections. “I realized everybody has their own opinion, and I have to be careful in such a high-profile business,” she adds. She now ponders her feelings and thoughts for 24 hours before she does anything about it. “I think about it from all perspectives.”
Most Realtors use social media as a powerful marketing tool for reaching buyers in other countries. 2020 was a volatile year in many ways with the elections and COVID-19. While social media may seem like a great way to vent your frustrations, think about the picture it portrays to buyers and sellers, especially those from out of the country.
Dell learned a lesson before it damaged her reputation. Others don’t recover so quickly.
“A lot of agents are overwhelmed with social media and not sure how to use it effectively,” says Katie Lance, CEO and founder of Katie Lance Consulting, a California-based social media marketing firm. “Many agents use it like any other marketing platform, and that’s a mistake since social media is social,” she adds.
Here are some basic tips. Many seem obvious, but they’ll serve as a good reminder next time you go to post something.
1. Keep it positive
“It’s not good business to talk about others badly on social media,” says Xina Rim, broker-
owner of Xina Rim &
Associates, St. Petersburg. She’s seen where other agents go on a tirade about a deal gone bad and blame the agents or sellers.
2. Don’t get too personal
If you’re going through a personal crisis, don’t put it all out there on social media, says Dell. “If you’re as transparent as I am, you can take it too far.” Now, she types up her feelings and only shares it to herself. Facebook allows that option. “It’s like journaling. Social media can be an addiction. Some people have to post everything.”
3. Stay away from political rants
Global buyers want to know about local communities, regulations that can help them and other helpful information. They don’t want to hear your opinion about a current or past administration.
“Whenever I post something about me and my life, I don’t post anything political or controversial,” says Rim. “Our social media clients research us. They look up your profiles including on our YouTube channels. I wouldn’t hire anyone with bad stuff on social media, so why would people hire me if I have that stuff on there?”
4. Offer helpful information
“Social media is not a one-way street,” Lance explains. “You have to give to get.” Posting listings is fine, but you should be posting additional content about your community, real estate, the market and more and engage with others on what they post.
5. Do your research
Remember, not everything you hear from friends or peers is accurate, so be sure to review before sending. “They listen to someone else, and they think it’s OK to put certain things on their Facebook page or somewhere else,” says Meredith Caruso, associate general counsel for Florida Realtors. “If you wouldn’t want someone to say it about you, you shouldn’t say it about someone else.” Lance agrees that an agent must be cautious and mindful of what they say—not just on their own profiles or pages, but in groups and in comments of other posts. “Even if you think a post is private, nothing is ever really private online,” she states.
6. Create separate personal and business social media pages
If you still have only one social media page and everyone can see it, be careful, Caruso says. “If you make one bad decision, then people start talking, including agents. Your reputation is your business.”
7. Understand the NAR Code of Ethics
Anything that a Realtor posts that is racist or violates Fair Housing rules are obviously big no-nos, says Lance. In November 2020, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) approved a change to the Realtor Code of Ethics that focuses on Realtors’ language and actions. Under the new Standard of Practice 10-5: “Realtors must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.” Failure to follow this Standard of Practice could lead to a charge under Article 10 of the Code of Ethics. For information about the change, go to bit.ly/NAR-code-of-ethics.
So, next time you’re frustrated about a current event, political figure, a deal gone bad or an annoying neighbor or colleague, take a deep breath before posting to your social media page. You have a right to your opinion, and you have a right to share that opinion, but post with potential customers in mind. After all, no one wants to lose business over a post written in the heat of the moment.
Lee Nelson is an Illinois-based freelance writer.