You’re happily blogging and engaging on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but are you alienating potential clients without even knowing it?

Today I had eight Facebook requests that all read the same way: "John Agent became a fan of John Agent. Perhaps you would like to become a fan too." This is one of the biggest mistakes agents make every day when it comes to using social media. If you want to maximize your return from using social media, here’s how to avoid six of the most common mistakes that agents make.

You’re happily blogging and engaging on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but are you alienating potential clients without even knowing it?

Today I had eight Facebook requests that all read the same way: "John Agent became a fan of John Agent. Perhaps you would like to become a fan too." This is one of the biggest mistakes agents make every day when it comes to using social media. If you want to maximize your return from using social media, here’s how to avoid six of the most common mistakes that agents make.

1. Facebook fan pages are akin to testimonials
If you’ve created a Facebook fan page for your business, that’s a great move, especially if it’s designed to be a fan page for your area. However, if you’ve created a fan page for yourself as a Realtor and invite others to be your fan, you’re making a huge mistake.

When you send a Facebook message saying you became a fan of yourself, it’s the same thing as saying, "Read this great testimonial I wrote for myself." Social media and Web 2.0 are about getting someone else to tell your story. Self-promotion on social media sites screams that you don’t get how these sites work. The smart strategy is to use your Facebook fan page to post information about the particular market niche(s) that you serve. Invite people to comment on what’s great about living in your area. Making your fan page about a community is a much better way to attract real estate clients.

2. Posting open houses and new listings to your Facebook profile page
Ideally, your profile page on Facebook is for friends and family. If you’re like many agents who have had profile pages for a year or more, you probably have your personal information mixed in with your business information. To remedy this problem create a pass code protected group for your personal information. This is particularly important if you are posting pictures of your children or grandchildren. In terms of your listings and open houses, post them on a fan page for your area or on the Facebook marketplace. While your profile page is not searchable by Google, fan pages and marketplace are searchable. This is one of the ways to use Facebook to improve your search-engine ranking.

3. Treating social media as an advertising outlet
Most people involved in social media are interested in having conversations with others who share the same interests. They aren’t interested in being bombarded with marketing materials from real estate agents. Many agents make the mistake of using social media to market the same way they do with print advertising. Print advertising was designed to create awareness. Social media, in contrast, is based upon engagement. Don’t waste your time on these sites unless you are willing to be in conversation with the people who are on them. …CONTINUED

4. Going for quantity rather than quality
When you join Twitter, it doesn’t take long for a blast of "follow me" requests to show up in your inbox. You will also receive requests from "bots" that generate thousands of people for their users to follow. Many times these are from porn sites or from people you wouldn’t want your clients to see on your site. On Facebook, you may be receiving requests from people you don’t know.

When using these sites, be selective. What are your interests? More importantly, what are your clients’ interests? In terms of your real estate business, it’s better to have a smaller group that you engage with than hundreds of people you don’t know.

5. Too many sites, too little time
Many agents sign up for multiple social media sites and do nothing with them. First and foremost, you must complete your profile in order to prevent someone else from impersonating you.

Second, if you’re trying to be active on too many sites, you won’t succeed anywhere. Each site requires a different strategy and you must adjust what you do to fit that site. Discover where your users are and where they are most active. Focus your efforts there. It’s better to be fully engaged on one or two sites than to spread yourself too thin over too many sites.

6. Compromising your clients’ privacy
Would you give your best client’s contact information to a company that would sell that information to spammers? Would you willingly share your best client’s personal information with a third party you know nothing about? Sadly, that’s exactly what you are doing when you engage in many of the Facebook games or applications. When you see the Facebook warning about "leaving the Facebook site" or "protecting your privacy," you are endangering your friends’ privacy.

When it comes to using social media, be a real person who is genuinely interested in connecting with others who share your interests. This is the best way to avoid social media mistakes and to build your real estate business.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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