Social Media Faux Pas—While Social Media May Be a Free Forum, It Is Not a Free-for-all. A Few Guidelines Will Help Agents and Brokers Avoid Social Media Missteps That Could Harm Their Reputation.
Since social media took the world by storm in the early 2000s, it has become an integral part of life for many. Americans spent 121 billion minutes on social media in July 2012; according to consumer research firm Nielsen, a 99 percent rise from a year earlier. About 142 million Americans access social media through apps on their smartphones, and 133 million use social media on their computers, according to data Nielsen released in March.
Just as social media has become part of the daily life of so many Americans, so too has it become part of the daily routine of businesses and professionals. But while consumers post everything from pictures of what they ate for dinner, to rants about the traffic on the way to work; those trying to leverage social media as a marketing tool must consider how their posts reflect on their competence and professionalism.
In the professional world, it is always important to think before you speak, and in the digital professional world, this rule can be even more imperative. A social media faux pas can make the rounds and damage an agent’s reputation in an instant.
Sharing “personal bad business dealings on social media” is one blunder Nuvia Rivera of Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Nuvia Rivera & Associates has witnessed in the industry is sharing. She warns others “not to burn bridges.” Complaining or posting negative comments about others “can come across as unprofessional and is a sure way to show your clients that you aren’t a confident and secure negotiator,” Rivera says.
Francis Mazzuca, a San Francisco Bay area agent with Better Homes & Gardens Mason McDuffie Real Estate agrees. “Some people use social media as a smear campaign,” he says, adding, “that’s not the right way to do it.” In the end, it comes back as a negative reflection of yourself, he says.
In the vein of the age-old adage about discussing religion and politics comes another issue for professionals using social media.
While social media may serve as a constant sounding board for many personal opinions on politics, religion, current events, and more, professionals should restrain from opining on social media.
Deciding what to post can be a “fine line,” says Todd Yovino, broker and owner of Island Advantage Realty in Hauppauge, New York. “You could post something you think is innocent, and it could be perceived the wrong way.”
Yovino enforces strict quality control on all social media posts for his brokerage. “We try to keep it very high level and very professional.”
Just as it is important to avoid complaining or opining on social media, experienced FORCE members agree it is best to avoid diluting one’s message with mundane personal comments.
“Keep your personal and professional life separate,” says Albert Seara, a Miami, Florida-based REO specialist with Unlimited Homes. “Do not post irrelevant or personal information unless it contributes towards your cause.”
Seara advises agents to “post relevant articles or photos that help build your brand.”
Similarly, Rivera aims to “share content that is shareable, informative and engaging.”
“If you can touch at least one of these things in your posts, you ensure that you will get the engagement and responses you desire,” she says.
A “shareable” post is something intriguing or informative that others will want to share with their own followers. Images, videos, and links to helpful articles are the types of posts followers might be inclined to share with others—thus expanding your exposure. It is also important to “keep it very upbeat,” according to Yovino.
Yovino posts information about the benefits of purchasing a home in today’s market. For example, he discusses the role of real estate as an investment in one’s future and encourages consumers to purchase now while interest rates remain low. Yovino also leverages social media to promote individual properties.
SAY IT IN PERSON.
While social media is certainly here to stay, Yovino says it is important to remember the marketing tactics that have proven successful in the past.
“There are definitely some benefits to technology, but we can’t forget what’s worked over the course of time as well,” he says.
As a broker in an office with more than 100 agents, Yovino carefully analyzes all marketing and outreach efforts to determine which bring the best results. Open houses, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings remain invaluable, even in today’s increasingly digitized world, according to Yovino.
Social media is a great way to reach the Millennial generation, according to Yovino, but “Millenials aren’t the ones buying right now,” he adds.
While social media can serve as a marketing tool, it can also serve as a professional networking tool and a great source for professional advice. Diane Amato, a Realtor with Carrington Real Estate Services, LLC, in Danvers, Massachusetts, limits her social media activity to LinkedIn. “It’s 100 percent professional,” she says.
Amato turns to LinkedIn when she wants to read up on market trends in other parts of the country or when she’s looking for a new software tool. She says she usually receives 20 to 30 helpful responses when she reaches out with a question on LinkedIn,
On LinkedIn, Amato finds, “great advice, awesome help; and everybody’s there.”