Social Media for REALTORS® 101+ DOS AND DON’TS

Published: August 30, 2018

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The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) constantly communicates to consumers and the media about the importance of choosing to work with a REALTOR® because of your unparalleled expertise, access to NAR’s many resources and commitment to the Code of Ethics.

Every day, you do your part to promote yourself as a REALTOR®. And every day, your national association is doing the same.

Because of NAR’s outreach — and your efforts — home buyers and
sellers know there’s a difference between a REALTOR® and someone
who hasn’t earned the right to carry that name. They recognize you as a
trusted professional, respected within the industry and your community.
As a result, when it comes time to buy and sell real estate, consumers
turn to you.

As part of your business understanding, the effective use of social media
can be a key to your success in the real estate business. This guide has
two purposes: to help you take your business to a new level through the
use of social media tools and to put into context your responsibilities and
duties as a member of NAR when using social media. Only through both
will you uphold your reputation for quality and standards of excellence in
all real estate-related pursuits.

According to the 2016 Member Profile, seventy percent of members (up from 65 percent from last year) are using social media while an additional eight percent plan to in the future. The use of social networking sites is more widespread among those who are 49 or under: eight in ten REALTORS® in that age group use social media.

The use of social networking sites by consumers is growing. You need to use and understand them to be able to effectively communicate with your current and potential clients. According to the 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, for 44% of home buyers, the first step in the home-buying process was looking online for properties, and 12% of home buyers first
looked online for information about the home-buying process. The use of the Internet in the home search rose slightly to 95%.

These 101 tips will help you get started and on your way to understanding and utilizing social media like a pro to contact buyers and sellers where they are looking — online. Use these tips to get on the right track and to help stand apart from the competition.

IN THIS QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE, YOU’LL FIND SECTIONS ON:

  • Social Networking and the Connection with Real Estate
  • General Social Media Tips

THEN WE’LL DELVE INTO SPECIFIC TIPS FOR THE MOST POPULAR
SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES:

  • Facebook (Your Little Black Book or Reunion)
  • Twitter (The Online Cocktail Party)
  • LinkedIn Tips (Your online RolodexTM and Resume)
  • Other popular sites include: Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare

THROUGHOUT THIS GUIDE, WE’VE BROKEN DOWN THE TIPS INTO TWO SECTIONS:

  • Principles and Best Practices (best practices and theory)
  • Getting It Done (action items and putting theory into practice)

We’ll end by wrapping it up and provide additional resources and next steps.

SOCIAL NETWORKING AND THE CONNECTION WITH REAL ESTATE

Your family, friends and business connections are using many different social websites to locate and share content. Some are reviewing articles, uploading photos and videos, or writing blogs. Here are details about some of the most popular online social networks in the real estate realm.

SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE

According to the Social Media Update 2016 1, as of November 2016, 86% of Americans use the Internet, nearly 80% of adults use social networking sites. Usage breakdown is as follows:

  • 79% of online adults say they use Facebook
  • 32% of online adults say they use Instagram
  • 31% of online adults say they use Pinterest
  • 29% of online adults say they use LinkedIn
  • 24% of online adults say they use Twitter

GENERAL SOCIAL NETWORKS

FACEBOOK
Allows users to post online “Profiles” (including photos, information about themselves, etc.) and then connect to other users who share the same interests, experiences, etc. Facebook is built around “Friends” and groups. It includes many networks of companies, regions, high schools and colleges. Users may also create a Business “Page” for commercial use.

TWITTER
A microblog that allows you to post messages 140 characters long. Every time you post a message, everyone who follows you receives it, either on Twitter.com, on their cell phone or via one of many Twitter reader tools. Tweets can include hyperlinks to blog posts or Web pages, which encourages
people to engage with you. In addition, Twitter is a place to engage in short conversation with people who are in your network. Find people in your community and start reaching out.

LINKEDIN
LinkedIn is a professional network. Build a network of past colleagues, friends and industry experts. Ask people to write recommendations of your
work and endorse you. Consider joining the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® group on LinkedIn to network and share ideas with other REALTORS®.

SNAPCHAT
Snapchat is an emerging social media platform used via a mobile application that allows you to send videos and pictures, both of which will self destruct after a few seconds of a person viewing them. Snapchat includes messaging
and the ability to apply filters to photos and images. It also allows you to broadcast to followers via a story. Recipients can view your story an unlimited amount of times in 24 hours, and you can post multiple snaps to your story in one day to create a narrative loop of sorts.

REAL ESTATE SOCIAL NETWORKS
If you are looking to interact with other REALTORS® in social media, “Like” the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/realtors), connect with NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® – Official Group on LinkedIn or follow
NAR on Twitter: @realtors. NAR has additional Facebook and Twitter accounts that you can choose to follow. Visit http://www.Realtor.org/topics/social-media for more information.

BLOGS
A blog is a website where you add content on an ongoing basis. New posts end up at the top of the blog, so people can scan and see your posts chronologically. Writing a blog about your local market can be a great resource for a real estate professional. Although it isn’t a social network itself, it can be used for social networking. The most popular blogging platform is WordPress. WordPress.com is free and is hosted by WordPress;
WordPress.org is also free, but you need to provide a website hosting company. There are many choices of template designs, or themes, for you to choose from. If you prefer, you can also choose to hire a company to design and build your blog for you.

PLACESTER®
Placester®, a partner in the REALTOR Benefits® Program, offers NAR members access to websites with beautiful mobile-ready design, hassle-free hosting, and more. Their turnkey solution includes everything you need to build an online presence, including quick setup and personalization, without the need for technical or programming skills. Beyond its websites and marketing tools, Placester® also offers a Real Estate Marketing Academy with free educational content, including how-to articles, infographics, videos
and webinars about digital marketing for real estate.

REALTOR.COM® SOCIAL MEMBER BENEFITS
realtor.com® offers the “Find a REALTOR®” directory which provides all members and offices with a profile page to include the REALTORS® bio, photo/logo, defined market area, and social networking links to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn channels. About nine out of 10 buyers would use their agent again or recommend them to others or someone in their social network. This member benefit from realtor.com® can help generate more referrals by ensuring that when you are recommended you can easily be found and contacted. realtor.com® recently reported a tenfold increase in searches for REALTORS® on the redesigned “Find a REALTOR®” profile pages. Claim and update your profile today. For more info: www.realtor.com/engage.

ONLINE PHOTO STORAGE AND EDITING PLATFORMS
Made for storing and editing your pictures, FlickrTM and PicasaTM are great holding areas for your pictures to be shared or used in various online and social media websites later.

FLICKR
A storage place for photos, as well as a social network. If you use Flickr, you will meet people looking for great local pictures and people finding your photos. Flickr has a great interface that lets you also post photos to your blogs.

PICASA
A free photo organization and editing tool from GoogleTM. For a free program, it really has a lot to offer. Picasa is desktop software that runs on Windows; it can be downloaded from
http://picasa.google.com/.

SOCIAL VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Made for social sharing first and foremost, YouTube and Instagram are the 800-pound gorillas of the video and still-image universe.

YOUTUBE
A video-based social network. If people do online searches for your communities or town, they are likely to see your videos, and they may contact you from there. Video search has become increasingly used by the general public in the real estate context. For more information, download the Real Estate in the Digital Age study study at:
https://www.nar.realtor/reports/real-estate-in-a-digital-age.

INSTAGRAM
Through its mobile app and easy integration with Twitter and Facebook — among other social media platforms — Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media sites today. Instagram is made for sharing of your pictures in real-time with friends, family and potential real estate clientele. Instagram is a photo-sharing social platform that plugs into Facebook and Twitter.

SOCIAL MEDIA OVERVIEW

The Internet is used by millions every day and people are connected virtually every minute using their computers and mobile devices. Web applications facilitate interactive information sharing, operability, user-centered design and collaboration.

Growing every day and permeating every single aspect of their lives and their clients’ lives, social media is no longer a real estate novelty or a toy; it is now an integral part of every real estate agents’ business model. Whether an agent is actively engaging with his current or future sphere of influence in his marketing, or is using it passively to safeguard clientele, its use is as varied as the business models of the practitioners using it. Embrace the communications concepts these platforms bring, ask clients how THEY use social media, and follow suit. Social media is no longer an option today; it’s a necessity— for business today and tomorrow.

SOCIAL MEDIA OVERVIEW — PRINCIPLES AND BEST PRACTICES

1. DO Claim your FREE .REALTOR domain. NAR offers a FREE web address to all members for the first year. FREE and discounted website and
email options are available. Visit www.claim.realtor to get your web addresses and set up today!
2. DO Take NAR’s e-PRO® Certification Program at www.eProNAR.com.
3. DO Follow NAR’s Facebook “Page” at facebook.com/realtors and on Twitter @realtors. https://www.nar.realtor/stayconnected/     stay-connected.
4. DO Promote yourself and your business, but DON’T overdo it. DO let readers know you are a real estate professional, but DON’T do it by broadcasting listings/sales. People want to know you as a person, not just by your profession.
5. DO Remember that the Code of Ethics principles still apply online.
6. DO Realize that the ROI (return on investment) of social media can be slow, and it may take some time before you see a return for the time you put into connecting online.
7. DO Realize that social networking isn’t for everyone. Explore several social media sites and choose one to focus on making a presence in.
8. DO Remember that you want to be where your current and prospective clients are. Make it easy for people to find you.
9. DO Manage your social media efforts yourself, so you are completely aware of and in touch with what is going on with your pages, profiles, blogs and sites.
10. DO Set up Google Alerts to monitor your reputation (your name, brand, user names) and area (where you sell real estate, your farm areas).
11. DO Make timely posts with keywords your clients might search for. Focus on the community in which you sell real estate and the local economic environment.
12. DO Consider blogging. You can get started by setting up a free blog at
WordPress.com or tumblr.com.
13. DO Write compelling headlines for your blog posts so you can catch the attention of potential buyers and sellers. You can then use the same headline and link to your post on social networking platforms.
14. DO Let people know you are online and integrate your social media profile information into tools that are currently working for you (print, newsletters, business
cards, email, website, etc.).
15. DO Get your .REALTOR web address and then learn how to set up the free realtor.com® profile website option under “Step 2” at http://www.about.realtor/leverage/integrateinto-your-marketing. It easily integrates with your social media platforms, including blogs, Facebook posts, recommendations, etc. This way, visitors don’t have to leave your website, the foundation of your business, to learn more about you.
16. DO Make sure you have a website or blog and that people can find it when they search for real estate in your community. Your website remains the foundation for your business. Your social media endeavors should always direct people back to your site.
17. DO Write posts about your niche, your marketing differentiators and what differentiates a REALTOR® from a non-REALTOR® and/or online advertising company like Zillow.
18. DO Give your profile pizzazz by using your “elevator speech” for your profile and description. An elevator speech is the 10-second description of yourself that you would use in an interview.
19. DO Go mobile. Choose a website with responsive design. The .REALTOR optional free profile website is mobile and tablet friendly, readjusting to your device’s size. This is important because more and more people are searching on mobile. As you update your Facebook post on-the-go, your clients can view your updates in real time on your mobile-friendly site.
20. DO Edit your profile and security settings quarterly on all networks. You can reveal as much or as little about yourself as you wish and choose what information you want to share with others.
21. DO Create personalized profiles/bios on each site, making each similar but not duplicated. LinkedIn is more businesslike, while Twitter and Facebook are more casual.
22. DON’T Replace money-generating activities with social media activities. Budget your time to allow you to include social media activities.
23. DON’T Make it a one-way conversation. Interact with other people and areas of interest online. Make it a two-way conversation by showing interest and engaging with others. Listen first, then engage.
24. DON’T Keep your profile description too simple. Be sure to include personal interests, as well as your profession. Your followers want to know a little bit about you to build a relationship.
25. DON’T Focus on the number of people you connect with; focus on the connections that will provide you with value. Follow people who have many followers and similar interests.

SOCIAL MEDIA OVERVIEW — GETTING IT DONE
26. DO Develop a plan so you can focus your time efficiently. Research where you should be spending time by asking your existing friends, family and clients where they’re spending their time. Ask for a “day in the social media life” both within the real estate context and outside of it.
27. DO Start with your website (is content share-able amongst your friends, family, clientele on social media?), then with the three largest networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
28. DO Commit the time to developing yourself and your social media tools. Focus your attention on social media for at least 6 to 12 months to see results.
29. DO Set goals for what you want to get from your social media efforts, figure out why you are doing this and what is realistic.
30. DO Focus your social media connections on people who live where you sell real estate. This will expand your local reach in the community.
31. DO Watch how other real estate professionals are using social media by reading their blogs, and connect with them on social networks.
32. DO Use social media management tools like www.hootsuite.com to monitor many social networks in one place.
33. DO Post about things your clients are asking you about. If one client asks you about a particular topic, someone else probably has the same question.
34. DO Set aside time in your busy schedule to dedicate to using social media.
35. DON’T Give up on social media after only a short period of time. It will take time to develop your network and the real value in these platforms.
36. DON’T Write overly complicated blogs or social media posts. Keep your posts short and to the point. Include the context of why and how the information matters to your readership by referencing what was important to your clientele in DON’T #25.

FACEBOOK — PRINCIPLES AND BEST PRACTICES
37. DO Keep in mind that Facebook’s Terms of Service states, “You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain.” For commercial purposes, create a business page rather than only a personal Facebook profile.
38. DO Treat your feedback on your Facebook “Page” as a conversation. Respond to all feedback whether positive, negative or difficult.
39. DO Share your life and experiences. This is an opportunity to be social and share your interests. Adding personal items to your pages, like photos of your family and pets, allows current and prospective customers to learn more about who you are and engage with your interests and personality.
40. DO Socialize. Be on Facebook for the reason people are there. People are there to socialize, so you should do the same. This can be accomplished with comments and “Likes.”
41. DO Use technology like your smartphone to multitask with social media. Log in to Twitter and Facebook on your phone to stay connected.
42. DO Make personal connections on social media sites. The sales will come later as a result of your increased reach.
43. DO Import your contact lists into Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter so you can connect with our sphere.
44. DO Go “Live” on Facebook. It requires use of either the app or a web cam on your laptop. Going live can require a larger audience. Go live at a neighborhood block party, say thank you at a client event, broadcast events you’re throwing and more! It’s an opportunity to tell a story in real time in a fantastic way.
45. DON’T Go on to Facebook with a singular goal of selling. This will be looked at negatively and set you up for failure.
46. DON’T Write only about real estate. People will stop following you and listening to you. Focus on the community; that will have interest to a greater population.
47. DON’T Outright ask for business on Facebook. You can offer services if people are looking, but don’t go over the top.
48. DON’T Force your conversations. If you aren’t interested, don’t fake it. People will know when you aren’t authentic.
49. DON’T Target other agents’ clients on their Business “Pages” or personal “Profiles.” Network with agents on the myriad of networking groups within Facebook instead.

FACEBOOK — GETTING IT DONE
50. DO Find Pages that your target market would be interested in and “Like” those Pages.
51. DO Make yourself known by updating your status and staying engaged in discussions.
52. DO Get personal. A good formula for real estate professionals on Facebook is three parts: one part personal, one part community and one part business.
53. DO Use content you find interesting. Don’t recreate the wheel with your posts. Link to interesting stories; try to post good and relevant content daily.
54. DO Use Facebook to search “Posts by Everyone” for brand keywords in users’ (with open privacy settings) statuses.
55. DO Comment on what others post on Facebook. Spend five minutes of your Facebook time each day to comment on what your Friends of your personal and Business Page have said. Stay involved.
56. DO Use the Share button to share posts from your Business Page onto your personal Profile (this should be done periodically), which will help market your Business Page.
57. DO Create a Facebook Business Page for your community or neighborhood, in addition to one for yourself or your business. Focus on what would interest people living in the area in which you sell real estate.
58. DO Interact with people. Expand your sphere of influence and get to know people. Comment on people’s status updates and/or pictures.
59. DO Use Facebook as a lead-generation tool. If someone in your network posts that they are looking for a new house, be sure to offer your services to help them or to refer them to another agent.
60. DO Give careful consideration to exactly who sees your Profile and when. Create a limited Facebook Profile for those people you are unsure about whether to include. By default, your limited Profile contains everything in your full Profile, so take the time to edit it down.
61. DO Use Facebook as your Business Page from time-to-time and interact with community members on popular pages.
62. DO Organize your Friends into lists so you can manage your time and
focus on engaging with certain lists of people (i.e., locals, current
clients, etc.).
63. DO Use content that consumers will find interesting. HouseLogic
(www.houselogic.com) has a free tool — the REALTORS® Content Resource (www.houselogic.com/members) — that REALTORS® can use to publish content to consumers on the topics that mean the most to them. But don’t forget about local content. Your association, newspaper and other sources have shareable, relevant content as well.
64. DO Ask customers to “Like” your Business Page. Doing so will immediately spread your message beyond your own network.
65. DON’T Send out a mass Friend Request or Friend someone you don’t know. For everyone you do know and want to add as a Friend, send a personal message in addition to your Friend Request with a bit of information on how they know you.

TWITTER — PRINCIPLES AND BEST PRACTICES
66. DO Use Twitter to stay informed about the latest relevant information by following local and national newsmakers — within and outside of the industry. For example, follow local television news people and journalists, as well as national real estate thought-leaders.
67. DO Engage your followers. Ask your followers to participate in conversation by posing questions and asking for advice.
68. DO Retweet interesting and/or valuable information. This is just as good as creating your own content online.
69. DO Keep it personal with a picture. Let people see who you are by personalizing your profile pictures. Many people will not follow someone without a picture and/or avatar.
70. DO Focus on keeping posts short. With only 140 characters, you’ll
need to learn how to say more with less.
71. DO Reply to Tweets. This engagement will potentially open you up to a greater audience.
72. DON’T Be passive. Twitter is constantly changing and moving. Stay attuned to what is going on and evolve with it.
73. DON’T Overdo the amount of your participation — or the amount of selling you do in your Twitter posts. Keep your Tweets subtle and don’t over promote yourself or your business.
74. DON’T Overuse links on Twitter and constantly direct your followers somewhere else.
75. DON’T Feel like you have to start conversations. It’s okay to eavesdrop on Twitter — join in!
76. DON’T Spend all your time on Twitter talking about your open house and listings.

TWITTER — GETTING IT DONE
77. DO Manage your Twitter account using a tool like HootsuiteTM to stay on top of your Twitter activity. Hootsuite allows you to stay connected with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.
78. DO Shorten the URLs of Web pages to maximize the information in your tweets. Use a service like http://bit.ly/ or www.goo.gl, which also lets you track who has clicked on the link from Twitter. Also, Hootsuite will automatically shorten URLs for you and track the number of times someone clicks on them.
79. DO Provide an interesting teaser to any URL you tweet so that it gives your followers a reason to click it.
80. DO Search keywords to find people to engage with. Use the search function in Twitter to
find terms like “MYTOWN,” “real estate” and “COMMUNITYNAME,” and open or join in the discussion.
81. DO Try to respond to messages you receive, as well as any mentions, though know that you DON’T have to respond to everything.
82. DO Post pictures to Twitter, especially those in your community. Use a service like Instagram.
83. DO Create lists of your followers. It will make it easier to organize everyone and focus your engagement.
84. DO Manage your account on the go using popular apps on your mobile devices.
85. DO Use hashtags to identify your Tweets about a popular topic or event. Hashtags are set apart with a “#” in front of a word, such as #hashtag,
and can be clicked on to find all conversation around that topic. Anyone can create a hashtag, but it is a good idea to make sure it isn’t in use by someone for content that you don’t want related to your tweets.
86. DON’T Link alone. Don’t only use a URL as your tweet — describe the link you are posting.

LINKEDIN — PRINCIPLES AND BEST PRACTICES
87. DO Use LinkedIn as your networking site to ask for business and ask for real estate referrals.
88. DO Lean more towards a professional/business side versus personal/casual, like using a professional head shot as your avatar.
89. DO Set up your LinkedIn profile as your online resume. List what your specialty is and what types of homes you sell.
90. DO Grow your sphere of influence by making as many connections as possible with people you know. DO change and add a personal message with every request for a connection reminding the person how you know them.

LINKEDIN — GETTING IT DONE
91. DO Recommend people and ask for recommendations on LinkedIn for yourself. These are powerful forms of client testimonies attributed right to the person giving the recommendation. After you claim your .REALTOR domain, utilize the free realtor.com® profile website offering that includes social integration with LinkedIn recommendations, so if a client gives a great recommendation, it can easily be added to your .REALTOR website.
92. DO Share your blog posts as status updates, or add your RSS feed to your profile, so that LinkedIn enthusiasts can find your posts.
93. DON’T Connect with people on LinkedIn that you don’t know. Instead, connect with people you may not know by connecting with a mutual connection you both have in common. It’s a great way to start conversations!

OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
94. DON’T Put all your eggs in one social media basket since they can be discontinued without notice. The death knell for platforms like Google+ and Tumblr are near.
95. DO Branch out and begin using Instagram. It is quickly growing into one of the hotest social media platforms around. Broadcasting in real time live on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, is a great way to grow your audience. Interview local business owners or your home inspector. Broadcast live at a local event to show off your community savvy and attract a crowd to your online presence.
96. DO Use video marketing in your business. Use Instagram as a deployment channel. Use canva.com to create cool infographics, Layout to create multi-photo posts, the Typorama app to add text or the Clips app to record personal video that automatically captions your voice to up the engagement factor on your Instragram content.
97. DO Think “long-term” with Snapchat use and share everything BUT real estate to build an audience since you will more than likely have next to no audience on it.
98. DO Use Snapchat to network with other agents so if you’re a big referral agent staying top of mind there is key; answer the “How’s the market?” “What’s going on in your town?” and other problem solving questions with them.
99. DO Connect your Instagram account to your Facebook account when you are using ads. It will will funnel your ads from Facebook to Instagram seamlessly. Create “Tips to buy your home,” “Tips to sell your home” in a visual way driving people back to your website or Facebook.
100. DO Tell a story of your business. Record quick video tips and tricks to save for a home, record home improvement ideas and short interviews with service providers that solve problems for you and your clients. Show off your community and neighborhood points of interest.
101. DO Use Foursquare to leave tips at local businesses and other community places. Share where you check-in on other sites where you are active. After you claim your .REALTOR domain, realtor.com’s® free profile website offering gives REALTORS® the ability to show their check-ins, including showings and open houses, so your clients can see how your activity makes you a local expert.
102. DO Use Flickr or Picasa to upload your pictures around the areas you sell real estate. Images are often found when people are searching using search engines.
103. DO Use descriptive titles and tags for your content on YouTube and Flickr.
104. DO Use the embed method to share your video content from YouTube to your website. This gives a better result than using the link method.
105. DO Upload short videos of your listings, your community, interviews with affiliates, client testimonials, etc., to YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook.
106. DO Join and interact on groups that many social networking sites have in place that share a common interest or location.
107. DO Use Pinterest to share boards relating to home maintenance, decorating and community interests.

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Last modified: November 14, 2019 at 8:05 am | Originally published: August 30, 2018 at 10:21 am
Printed: September 22, 2020