Technology

Gina Tufano on the name change that got her thrown in Facebook jail — twice

Keller Williams Realty Loudon Gateway ringleader talks inspiration and connection

Age: 42

Years in real estate: 19!

Job title: Ringleader

Location: Northern Virginia

Hours per week spent on social media: 10 to 20 is my best guess. I don’t really want to count. Know what I mean?

Social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn — an orphaned Pinterest account and Google Plus if that counts ;)

6 ways empowered agents embrace disruption to drive success
Using technology to generate leads and win listings READ MORE

Target demographic: YOU

Average number of posts per day: 5 to 10 total across all channels

2015-01-13 16.18.06

Which social channels do you work more?

Facebook comes first, without a doubt. After that, it’s Instagram and Twitter, with LinkedIn slowly gaining ground.

How many friends, likes and so on do you have?

I have approximately 7,000 Facebook likes, 2,000 Twitter followers, 1,000 Instagram followers and 3,000 LinkedIn connections.

Does that number matter to you?

The Facebook one does  5,000 is the maximum friend count, so it is a constant juggle to work within that limit.

Do you ever give it a break?

Yes! It’s more than a social media break though  it’s all of it: email, text, phone, social media … sometimes I need to get lost in nature and reconnect with the world by unplugging. Sounds backwards, I know.

Does social help your business, and how?

Absolutely  providing value to our clients through learning systems, sharing ideas, a network of top agents and vendors, increased marketing exposure and more. The business has grown in quality and quantity this way.

What’s your goal for your favorite social channel?

I don’t have a specific goal, per se. My word for the year is “authenticity,” and I strive to be real, raw and relevant while moving the needle just a little with all that I post. I want people to know that we all have a lot more in common than the noise out there would have us believe. And a little love and honesty goes a long way in biz and personal relationships. Approaching social media with this intention has led me to some of the most amazing people I would not have connected with otherwise. I appreciate and understand so much and look forward to growing and deepening these friendships as well as forging new ones.

What’s your strategy to achieve it?

Constantly raising my leadership lid, coming from curiosity and seeking to understand. Sharing my “aha’s,” struggles and joys with no agenda other than to connect.

Is it worth it, and why?

OMG, yes. I have had so many amazing experiences, been able to help others on a massive scale, met with many a creative soul, and my biz has grown to levels I never even imagined. All of this combined makes me a better mama, friend, owner and person. It’s kinda cool, really.

What’s your craziest social media-related story?

This one got me thrown in Facebook jail, twice.

It all started spring 2014. I was at a local small-biz networking event and had just gotten a new phone. I discovered that when using “talk to text,” the phone changed my last name from “Tufano” to “too fine.” I found this quite humorous and shared it with the group. Fast-forward to about six months later, when I ran into several people whom I had not seen since the event. They remembered me and were still giggling from the “TooFine” comment. I, on the other hand, had completely forgotten it. I went home that night and after talking all big and bad about it, made it my middle name on Facebook. I received a warning from Facebook that any name change could not be changed again for 60 days. I disregarded.

To my shock and horror, that rule applied to me, too. I had egg on my face and was embarrassed by the “Gina TooFine Tufano” every time I saw it. After a few days, I figured it best to run with it and own it; the name wasn’t changing anytime soon. It grew on me. I started receiving emails and letters addressed to “Gina TooFine.” I liked it. Evidently, not everyone did. One day my account wouldn’t let me log in until I verified my name. I put “Gina TooFine Tufano” in and it wouldn’t take. Being the clever rule-bender that I am, I changed it to “Too Fine” with a space, and voila  success. Things went along merrily for another few weeks when I was shut down again.

This time I couldn’t just type my name in; I had to provide proof of my identity. Yes, I needed to turn in a copy of my passport to be released from Facebook jail. I am now on probation and have been told I can never change my name again without approval from the powers that be at Facebook. (Really.)

I’m left with mixed feelings about the experience. A part of me is disturbed that I have a hater out there who would report me; another part wants to rise up against the man and find a way to keep my new moniker; and the TooFine part is confident in my fineness and doesn’t want to waste energy or time on something so silly. Plus, my friends still send me mail addressed to TooFine ;).

I do wish it would have lasted longer, getting #toofine to trend would’ve been pretty neat.

What actions do you take that have gotten the most results?

Providing value. It’s true in every relationship and every business. To share something with the intention of making someone’s day a little better … either a laugh, a new idea, help with a project, [to help one] save money, a book recommendation. My posts tend to be pretty emotion-filled  whether I am filled with joy and excitement when traveling or love and pride for my kids, I tend to let the world know.

I heard a trainer share once, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I first got my license, that you can’t be all things to all people. It was before niche marketing was a thing. I made a decision then to not try to be what I thought people wanted me to be and instead show up with my quirky and occasionally inappropriate sense of humor along with my experience and openness to learn. It has served me well. I genuinely enjoy working with my clients and agents, and have made lifelong friends through the years.

Is this more about social or about business?

My life is all connected. There are no boxes. I bring me with me everywhere I go. Some of the opportunities I have had would never have happened if not for social media, either initiating or maintaining a connection. My village includes people all over the world and transcends local boundaries. I celebrate the birth of a new baby of a small-biz owner I met in Greece while mailing his friend a copy of “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” because he’s interested in getting into real estate. My 3-year-old is known throughout my network as “Baby D” and is sometimes recognized before I am at local events. The lines are blurry, no black and white, all grays.

How do you monitor the channels? Push notifications or email? Do you use software or apps to manage your account, which ones?

The only apps I use are product-specific: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I don’t use the LinkedIn platform, as I’m not on it much. My notifications are on; however, my phone is always on silent and turned screen down. It limits the distractions and allows me to focus on whatever is in front of me at the time.

How many hours per day are you on social? Do you check it daily? Multiple times per day?

A lot. It’s part of my daily routine. I have found that some days I’m not on my computer and function completely on the phone for all biz. I spend my days with people for the most part: networking, consulting, interviewing, learning, listening, laughing. The phone is in between that to monitor biz and other opportunities.

Do you ever think of retiring?

Every day and never.

Do you consider yourself an influencer?

It surprised me when I got the email from Inman. I guess it was about a year ago when I recognized that I had the ability to rally the troops; it was something that I had frequently done, yet never looked at it as a skill or something I could leverage into more. I’m still learning. :).

Are you social in real life?

Not as much as you would think. Being “on” can be as draining as it is energizing. The more I grow and stretch, the more I find I want to circle the wagons and recharge. I spend a great deal of time snuggling or dancing with my boys and getting lost in nature. These activities help me center and provide a simple balance for all of the go, go, go out there.

What did you do with your time before?

… Crickets … There was a time before this?

How do you leverage your prominence/influence on social?

I’m not sure how to answer this question. I raise money and awareness for quite a few organizations; I support local businesses regularly and help our clients by staying on top of the trends and pulse of the market. Each of these utilizes my connections and helps bring about win-wins for everyone. I find that I am most passionate about helping others and do call on my friends in times of need  whether it is an individual fighting cancer or a convoy to provide water and power to victims of Sandy. I am frequently brought to tears at their generosity and willingness to help. I also champion many “random act of kindness” campaigns and love the “pay it forward” concept. The joy seen in others when receiving such a gift is powerful energy for good things to happen. I love it!

Do you have someone helping you?

Not with social media. Everything else biz-wise, yes. ;)

Whom do you follow, and why?

I follow people who are of a similar mindset … open, authentic and growing. I tend to shy away from complaining, negativity, politics and religion. My connections include everyone from the concierge at a Vegas hotel I stayed at many years ago to one of my very first clients. I follow family, friends, industry leaders, teachers, doctors, agents, my cleaning lady, vendors, high school classmates and more. The one common thread is mindset.

Where do you find the content that you put out?

My brain and my life … it is 100 percent user-generated, for better or worse. I do Google for images, quotes and stats to support my ideas when needed.

What has been your all-time hit share? Can you share a link to the post?

I’m not really sure what has received the highest shares/likes. I get a bunch from ridiculous cartoons, kid pics and super-serious emotional growth posts. This is a recent one from the “can’t make this stuff up” file. I won’t describe it, you’ll have to read for yourself.

Would you like to participate in our social media all-stars profile series? Email contributors@inman.com.