I was recently asked where to draw the line with regards to social networking. Should Realtors use Facebook to communicate with prospective clients and open house visitors?

Well, I’ve come up with a very easy answer.

If you are a younger Realtor — say, between the ages of 20 and 29, well then, the answer to whether you should befriend any colleagues, clients or your parents, is a definitive no.

Facebook is no place for you to be doing business! Not as long as your fraternity brothers are posting such jewels as, "Tonight, Scooters, 10 p.m., drinking, girls, and get your dance on!"

This does not count as a client appreciation party. And women, don’t think you are in the clear. I have seen what you are writing on the World Wide Web. Take this example I pulled from a young acquaintance: "OMG. Can’t believe I kissed an ooger last night. Too many spritzies!"

Now, I’m not sure what an "ooger" is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not something or someone that you want to explain to your principal broker. And even if you promise me that you have blocked all these kinds of comments and your clients would never see these types of quips, which one of your real friends wants endless updates on the sales stats of mid-century Tudors?

I’ll answer that one for you: none of them. You’ll find yourself "de-friended." And that’s cold.

If you happen to be a bit older, somewhere between the ages of 30 and 45, I’m assuming two things: 1) You might have kids; and 2) Your friends might have kids.

Your Facebook postings alternate between, "2-year-olds and tutus — what could be cuter!?" and "Mommy and me meeting: Friday at Applebee’s."

This is a lot better than kegger boastings, so the answer to whether you can utilize Facebook as a business tool is "maybe."

You’ll have to use your best judgment. Ultimately, you need to make a decision whether or not you’ll use Facebook purely as a social diary or as a business tool … because it’s awfully hard to do both.

I decided Facebook wasn’t the right place for me to do business. I wanted to keep in contact with my college friends and share pregnancy photos, cocktail recipes and the like without revealing personal data in excess or offending anyone with whom I’m working.

Instead of using Facebook, I communicate real estate business using my blog posts and website.

Realtors over 45, I’ve seen your Facebook postings, too. They are really tame.

"I just shot 37 on the front nine — no gimmies," and, "Great Thanksgiving dinner! Boy I’m full." Otherwise, it’s all business for you folks. Heck, I used to get three listings a day from one friend. But that’s OK. I’m allowing it. You are fully allowed to use Facebook to promote business and update us on your grandchildren’s first-grade report card.

To sum up my Facebook rule of thumb: 20-29 never; 30-45 maybe, 45-plus OK.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to elaborate via e-mail, but if you ask to be my "friend," uh, it depends on how old you are.

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