Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. In addition to writing print and online articles, Erica oversees the magazine's Broker to Broker content, co-manages the 30 Under 30 program, and manages the YPN Lounge. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brokers Face the Ugly Side of Facebook
Make sure you and your agents are staying out of hot water on social media. Here are five techniques to mitigate risk.
November 20, 2015
Social media has become a significant lead-generating tool for real estate agents. Many use it as second CRM system to reach out and communicate with their sphere.
But what happens when agents cross the line on their social pages by discussing a deal or making offensive comments?
The National Association of REALTORS®’ Broker Exchange Council held an open forum during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego last week on ethical challenges posed by social media. Brokers in the audience shared solutions they’re using in their businesses today, including these five techniques.
1. Develop social media guidelines. Clearly spell out what your company expects and prohibits on social media to mitigate legal risk and protect your brand’s reputation. This can include such points as discussing a pending transaction, the use of language or statements that could be taken as libelous, or making sure licensees are following the law in how they identify themselves on their business page. Have an attorney review your guidelines and then add them to your office policies and procedures manual.
2. Protect your business in contracts. Steve Brown, executive vice president at Crye-Leike, REALTORS®, in Memphis, says it’s a good idea to include a clause in independent contractor agreements that says agents will be responsible for any fines the real estate firm may incur if ethical violations come to light on social media.
3. Make it easy to police your agents. If you have the time to follow what your agents are doing on social media, Facebook offers some handy tools. First, you can select what posts you see first in your news feed by simply going to a friend’s personal page or to a business page and selecting “See First” under the “Following” tab. Then, when agents post something, it will show up at the top of your news feed. You can also receive notifications when one of your agents post to their business page. Once you’ve liked the business page, you can select “Notifications” under the like icon and choose how frequently you receive updates from that page.
4. Discuss social media regularly. Pam McCutcheon, broker-owner of Small Dog Realty in Bozeman, Mont., says social media is a standing topic at sales meetings. She and her agents share ideas on how to best promote their business as well as their advocacy efforts with local animal shelters. “As a broker, you have to pay attention and teach [agents] what not to do,” McCutcheon says. “The only thing they might do is post something from the lighter side of real estate, and that’s OK, but we try to keep politics and religion out of our social media.”
5. Help agent look smart; give them good content to share. Not every broker has time to monitor agents’ posts. And while discouraging polarizing topics like politics and religion may help protect your brand, consider balancing your “don’t” with some “dos.” Give agents timely and relevant content they can tweet and share on their business pages. Jim Imhoff, CEO of First Weber, REALTORS®, based in Madison, Wis., says his company publishes blog posts daily for its 1,400 agents to share on social media.