REALTORS®: Don’t Let Social Media Put Your License in Jeopardy

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There’s no question that the real estate industry is among the largest benefactors of this thing known as the Internet.  I started developing websites back in early 1994.  My very first client was a RE/MAX real estate team in Wheat Ridge, Colorado… a suburb of Denver.  RE/MAX.com wouldn’t be online for at least another year.  REALTOR.com and the up-and-comer Cyberhomes.com were still more than a year away.

It didn’t take long before I found myself working with REALTORS® in other parts of the country.  It seemed I’d found my niche as word quickly spread throughout the real estate community that I was the one to talk to if you wanted to get your real estate business online.  I humbly and graciously accepted that and dug my heels in… making sure I understood what I needed to know in the world of online real estate marketing.

I’ve been noticing something over the years as Real Estate Brokers and Agents have embraced social networking tools to help promote themselves… and more importantly, their listings… and although laws vary from state to state… some basics still apply all across the U.S.  I’m talking about promoting your listings through Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc… and then forgetting about them.

I know that most REALTORS® are probably aware of this, however, I’ve seen enough examples to realize that not all are paying attention.  It’s all well and good to post a listing on Facebook, include it in your Blog, or Tweet about a great property deal.  But it’s NOT good to forget about it after it’s been sold… and leave it out there for the world to find.

Because search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask scan pages, feeds, and information made available through social networking tools, those listings and posts can also find a home in search engines.

I’ve “Liked” over 200 real estate related pages on Facebook… and have a number of Facebook “Friends” who are in the real estate business.  I’ve found and read through real estate blogs.  As I look through these various pages and posts, I’ve seen many examples of the following:
  1. Listings which have been sold but are still visible on Blog pages and Facebook walls.
  2. Listings which have expired and sellers have given them to other REALTORS®, however they still show up on Blog pages and Facebook walls.
  3. The price of a listing has changed yet the original post or reference to the listing doesn’t reflect that change.
For Facebook users… there’s a better alternative to posting your listings in your “Status” and uploading a photo.  However, if you DO decide to promote listings in that manner… simply remember to delete the post after it’s sold… or after it’s no longer your listing.  DON’T forget about it!

The BETTER alternative to posting a listing in your “Status” is to present that listing in a Facebook “Note”.  There are several reasons for this:
  1. Facebook “Notes” don’t have any character limit constraints so you can actually create a listing as you would for any other online listing service.
  2. You can still include a photo.
  3. Facebook “Notes” still post to your wall and are visible in “News Feeds”.
  4. You can edit your Facebook “Note” at any time.  This allows you to go back in and modify price, features, etc.  You can even keep the listing online after it’s been sold.  Simply edit the note.  Include “SOLD” and even replace the photo with a similar one but add “SOLD” across the photo.
Facebook “Notes” are available on both “Personal Pages” and Facebook “Business Pages”.
Where to find “Notes” on Facebook Personal Pages

Where to find “Notes” on Facebook Business Pages   
Some of you may not see “Notes” in the menu items on the left side of your Facebook Business Page.  You’ll need to activate “Notes”.  This is done in four simple steps:
  1. Navigate to your Facebook Business Page and click “Edit Page” on the top right hand side of your business page.
  2. Click on “Apps” located in the menu on the left side of the page.
  3. Locate “Notes” from the list of Apps displayed on this page and click on “Edit Settings”.
  4. When the pop-up window appears… Click on “Add” to add this “Tab” to your menu.
Now go back to your Facebook Business Page and you’ll see “Notes” in the menu on the left side of your page.  You’re good to go!

It’s critical that you incorporate state real estate law, the NAR Code of Ethics, as well as the rules of your MLS and IDX services into your social media strategy.  With all of the things that you as a Broker and/or Agent are doing out there to market your real estate business and your listings… it’s easy to get carried away, lose touch with, or forget completely the things you’ve done online.
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