Social Media Safety: What to Avoid Posting

Real estate professionals often aim for authenticity on social media, but where should we draw the line? The information shared about clients, listings, and oneself can inadvertently provide valuable details to malicious individuals seeking vulnerable targets online. In a podcast hosted by Tracey Hawkins, two social media influencers in the real estate industry discuss the boundaries they establish online to safeguard their own and their clients’ privacy.

Tracey Hawkins, also known as ‘Tracey, the Safety Lady,’ focuses on educating real estate agents to prioritize safety, protect consumers, and reduce liability for brokerages. She is joined by Carrie Little an acclaimed digital marketing and technology expert in real estate. She is also the principal owner of CarMarc Realty. Joining the team is Jeremias Maneiro, also known as JMan, a national trainer at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. He’s a millennial tech enthusiast who speaks passionately about technology, aiming to enhance everyone’s “techxpertise” across generations and skill levels.

Together, these experts stress the gravity of what is shared online, citing real-world examples. Their insights serve as a guide for real estate professionals navigating the digital landscape. They highlight the crucial boundaries and precautions necessary to maintain professionalism, protect privacy, and mitigate risks in today’s interconnected world.

Social Media Safety for Real Estate Professionals

JMan shares that during vacations, they avoid posting live updates while on vacation to prioritize family privacy and safety. Additionally, they maintain a professional appearance online, refraining from posting photos in swimming pools without a shirt or dressing inappropriately. This approach aims to uphold their professional image and garner respect based on their expertise, rather than appearance.

On the other hand, Carrie shared that they are cautious about discussing politics or sharing personal opinions outside of real estate topics, as it can lead to differing views and potential conflicts. She further shares that she asks permission from this children if they can post the kids on social media.

In terms of social media photos, there’s a cautionary note about sharing pictures of children. Many agents do share family moments, which is fine if they’re comfortable with it. However, what’s often overlooked is that these photos can reveal location details through geotags. This means anyone can easily find out where the child lives or where the photo was taken. Agents are advised to be mindful of this when posting live updates or location-specific content. It’s not just about sharing where you are but also inadvertently indicating where you’re not, such as being away on vacation, potentially leaving your home empty.

Professionalism and Client Confidentiality

Carrie shared an eye-opening story about the impact of social media on real estate negotiations. During a pre-pandemic training session for agents in West Virginia, she emphasized the lack of privacy on social platforms. A real estate agent approached Carrie after the training, revealing a situation where a buyer’s social media post inadvertently disclosed their offer on a property, which happened to be listed by the agent. This led to speculation among the agents about whether the buyer ended up paying more than the asking price, highlighting the importance of being cautious about what is shared online.

Agents should be mindful of their clients’ social media presence, especially during listing appointments. It’s crucial to have a conversation with clients and their family members about what they share online. Posting about expensive possessions or personal matters like health issues can affect negotiations and the overall selling process. Agents should advise clients to be cautious about what they post on social media to maintain their negotiating edge and protect their privacy during the home-selling journey.

Jeremias shares that when marketing a property, it’s important to respect the client’s privacy and security. This includes being cautious about showcasing valuable items like artwork or watches in videos or virtual tours. In today’s digital age, potential buyers can thoroughly examine a home online. It’s wise to avoid displaying personal belongings that could attract unwanted attention. Additionally, always seek permission from the seller before marketing the property and maintain a positive tone when discussing it publicly.

Carrie further explains, as part of their process, they focus on providing value by discussing social media strategies with real estate agents and clients. This includes understanding what clients want to see on social media regarding their property. They adhere to internet data exchange rules to show clients how their property will appear online and inquire about their preferences, such as allowing comments or automated value models. When working with buyers, they consider their online presence and how it may impact negotiations. They emphasize the importance of understanding clients’ social media visibility during discussions.

Authenticity in Online Presence

Tracey Hawkins emphasizes the importance of discussing social media strategies with clients, considering that even if agents aren’t active on social media, their clients likely are. She poses a question to both Carrie and JMan about their views on livestreaming, given their frequent live appearances. JMan shares his positive experience with livestreaming. He mentioned how it helped him overcome initial hesitations about his voice and improve efficiency in creating videos. He highlights the value of live interactions in showcasing authenticity and building expertise.

Carrie shares her experience of being initially hesitant but finding success by maintaining consistency in her live sessions. She recommends creating a format for each session, including a title, introduction, planned discussion points, and ending with a Q&A session. Carrie emphasizes the value of preparation and consistency, noting that her efforts have led to increased viewership over time.

Building Trust

Regarding high-profile clients, Carrie mentions the situation in Kansas City with Travis Kelce, who gained attention for being Taylor Swift’s boyfriend. When he put his house on the market or bought a new one, there was a lot of buzz among real estate agents on social media. Carrie advises caution when dealing with high-profile clients, as oversharing or discussing their properties too openly can lead to complications.

Agents should never share confidential information, especially regarding high-profile clients, as it could lead to legal issues. Using someone else’s images or videos without permission is a violation and can result in a cease and desist order. They have worked with high-profile clients but maintain strict confidentiality. They never posted about them on social media to protect their privacy.

Carrie shares an example where a famous singer’s property deal fell through because an agent posted about it on social media. This lead to unwanted attention and canceled contracts. She emphasizes the importance of prioritizing client privacy over social media visibility, as maintaining a professional and discreet approach can lead to more referrals and long-term success in the luxury real estate market.

Tips to Be Authentic Online

JMan explains that being relentlessly authentic means not creating a fake persona. He shares his experience of starting young in the real estate business and initially feeling the pressure to portray a more professional or imaginary version of himself. However, he realized that being true to his personality was more important. It’s okay to have fun while being professional and always prioritize the client’s best interests. Avoid discussing polarizing topics and strive to educate, entertain, or enlighten in a positive way. The goal is to be a positive influence and bring light to those around you.

He further shares, keep confidential information confidential. This includes details about offers, commissions, and any discussions that could lead to antitrust or code of ethics issues. If you have questions or need guidance on industry changes, consult your managing broker.

Real estate agents face a challenge when it comes to navigating social media boundaries. If unsure about what’s appropriate, Carrie added that it’s crucial to seek guidance from brokers or managing brokers. Conducting a social media audit periodically, such as at the start of the year or quarterly, can help assess what content is effective and what may be causing unwanted messages or issues. Being open-minded and proactive in reviewing and refining social media strategies can protect agents, their clients, and their future prospects.

In her closing remarks, Tracey Hawkins recounted an incident where a broker expressed concern over an agent’s social media content. While acknowledging limited control over personal pages, Tracey advised brokers to address any inappropriate content related to company listings. She emphasized the importance of maintaining a professional image on social media, especially when discussing business or listings. Tracey urged leaders to have conversations with their agents about what constitutes professional and appropriate content on social media platforms.

In conclusion, the discussion on social media safety for real estate professionals highlights the critical need for vigilance and responsibility in online presence. From safeguarding client confidentiality to maintaining a professional image, the insights shared by industry experts underscore the importance of setting clear boundaries and adhering to ethical standards. By staying informed, seeking guidance when uncertain, and regularly reviewing and refining social media practices, real estate professionals can navigate the digital landscape effectively while protecting their clients’ interests and upholding their professional reputation.