Technology has done wonders for the world of real estate. Whether you were (and still are) quick to learn and utilize the latest strategies or are still reluctant to adopt the many newfound sites and programs, I think we all can agree that technology, specifically social media, is not going anywhere and has a very real impact in our business.
Social media has been a part of my life since college, so it is familiar to me and a natural addition to my marketing strategies. However, it has posed some challenges and frustrations because I have had to learn how to comply with the “rules” for using it in direct correlation with real estate.
There is an entire web page on the National Association of Realtors site that outlines online and social media compliance for Realtors. It is quite lengthy and intimidating, so I have gleaned some of the most relevant “everyday” applications for business. If you have not done social media training with your brokerage or local association, I would recommend reading the regulations in their entirety here.
These guidelines have been put in place to protect agents and their brokerages. The intent of setting up this framework is to manage the many risks associated with social media use. Many of us have seen the unseemly and discourteous remarks that are made on personal social media accounts. Clearly, when we are using these various sites for business, it goes without saying that we need to hold our industry to a higher standard and represent our businesses professionally and ethically.
The following scope of policy extends to all uses of social media that connect with an agent’s real estate business. This includes content, listing promotions, and general advertising to generate leads.
At the very least, an agent should have the following on his or her account page. It might be wise to include in every post depending on local and state regulations.
- Name and logo of brokerage
- Name of Agent
- Address of brokerage office with which agent is affiliated.
- Phone number and email address for agent
- State of licensure
- All agent names affiliated with a team, and may include the name of the team.
Please check with your local board office for additional compliance standards. Every market is different, and it is better to be overly cautious when you are setting up such a major component of your online presence.
So, how do we work with these regulations? What solutions have been proven to work well for real estate professionals?
To be a good digital citizen, I recommend adopting a few habits, which I have listed below. They may seem too cautious or a hassle at first. However, I can assure you that you will be “ahead of the game” in comparison to your peers. Based on my research and some conversations I have had recently within my own association, many agents do not follow the NAR-suggested guidelines. Unfortunately, they could run into problems down the road if local and national associations decide to become much more strict regarding social media policy. It’s likely, given the increase in usage among industry professionals and clients.
- Comply with all laws and regulations that apply to face-to-face meetings, such as fair housing, antitrust, and any additional specific state real estate law mandates.
- Agent is responsible for assuring his or her content is appropriate under the Realtor Code of Ethics.
- Agent may not write about or promote another agent’s listing without consent.
- Comments that are made from a business page must clearly disclose the agent’s relation to a brokerage and status as a real estate professional.
- Compensation for comments and/or promotional posts is prohibited.
- Be very careful and check on copyright issues with photos and videos. Give credit where it’s due, and use your own photos and videos as much as possible. Get a photo release from a professional photographer if you use one for listings.
- Above all, use common sense and err on the side of caution. When you have questions about a post or advertisement, check with a broker manager or member of your company’s marketing team because they should be well-versed in the most current social media standards.
I do hope this information does not overwhelm you or dissuade you from using social media to enhance and grow your business. These platforms are powerful tools for us. As long as we use them in accordance with the set guidelines, we actually have a great deal of creative freedom to set ourselves and our real estate business apart from competitors.
If you’d like to read a bit more, I found the following articles tremendously helpful.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions. We are all in this together as we work to keep up with the changing landscape of technology in this business.