Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat.
They’re all part of the fabric of today’s ultra-social lifestyle and they can be a wonderful way to connect with others.
For folks in business or in the public eye, they can be wonderful too…or they can become a huge problem. Just ask Donald Trump!
If you are a professional – especially a young professional – it’s likely that you have learned to incorporate social media into your business. Realtors, in particular, have made wonderful use of social media to advertise homes and to promote themselves to others who have similar social media habits. For those agents who use these platforms properly, things like Facebook can be a real boon to their business.
But, sadly, social media can also cause serious issues, especially when you cross the line in regards to rules pertaining to licensed Realtors. Indeed, how you behave online is ultra-important and – if you’re not careful – some posts may be contrary to the REALTORS© Code of Ethics.
In other cases, individuals who are Realtors find that they get in trouble due to posts on their PERSONAL Facebook pages or with personal tweets, even if they are diligent about proper posts on their business accounts. This can also impact your business negatively.
Remember, everything you post on the internet is out there for the public to view, even with fancy privacy settings and whatnot. What goes out on the internet can come back to bite you if you’re not extra careful, so take a look at the tips and warnings below in order to avoid business-related problems associated with your social media accounts.
Don’t share another agent’s listing on your social media pages
You might see a particularly nice house listed by another agency, become really excited about it, and then want to share it with the world or – at least – your local customers. While the listing agent might be happy for the exposure, this constitutes an infraction in regards to exclusive representation agreements and improper advertising of a listing. Chances are that if you ask, the representing agent might be okay with allowing you to post about his/her listing, but you MUST ask permission first.
Don’t talk about commissions on social media
The National Association of Realtors notes that many agents get in trouble by complaining about commissions via Tweeting or on a real estate- related Facebook group. Not only is this unprofessional but it could also represent a disclosure of private financial information, especially if you speak in too much detail, making it easy for others to figure out the transaction to which you are referring. This is a clear ethics violation unless you have the client’s permission to talk about the transaction online, which is doubtful.
Don’t discuss other agents or their behavior, personal or professional
If you’re familiar with the word “slander” and what an accusation of slander can bring about, you’ll avoid making disparaging remarks about other agents in a public forum such as Facebook. You should never discuss your dislike for a fellow Realtor online or make accusations about them on a social media platform. This is a clear ethics violation, whether you do it on your personal page/via your personal account or on a real estate agent-related Facebook group. (This refers to making remarks about his/her business practices, not his/her personal life, though it’s a good idea to avoid that as well.)
Don’t discuss clients on social media
The easiest way to lose a client is to offend them. While you might be thinking that if you don’t use a name, no one will figure out about whom you are talking, but you’re probably wrong. Nasty words have a way of getting back to those about whom you said them…and then you’ll lose not only that client but anyone they might have referred and just about anyone else who gets wind of your practices…considering the word will likely get out about how you publicly demean your customers.
Follow the rules about posting listings on your personal page
Did you know that it’s against the REALTORS© Standard of Practice laws to post a listing on your personal page if you don’t disclose the fact that you’re a Realtor. However, if you have disclosed that you sell real estate, the best option for posting listings on your Facebook page or Twitter account is to include a link that takes viewers to a page that displays your company logo prominently. That will keep you from getting in trouble, especially if you’re not the company broker.
Keep everything tasteful
No one really wants to hire a Realtor who posts drunken pictures, inappropriate jokes, or other distasteful things on any of their social media accounts. So, if you’re tempted to post that pic of you smooching with your girlfriend at the beach, that racist story, or anything else that could offend current or potential clients, think twice about it. Remember, it’s necessary to assume that everything that’s on the internet is for public viewing and if your posting is something better not seen by clients, then don’t post it!