As the industry outreach director for Zillow Group, I wear a lot of hats. The most public-facing of these is serving as an online connection between the real estate industry and my employer in dozens of real estate-related Facebook groups, other social platforms and on the web in general.
Due to this facet of the role, I spend a lot of time on social media. How much? I promise that my iPhone’s screen Time” statistics would frighten you. Like many of you reading this, after 15 years working in real estate, agents and brokers dominate my social media feeds.
This has only increased since starting at Zillow Group as I routinely receive a dozen or more Facebook friend requests per day (I tell myself it’s because of my cheery demeanor and quick wit). It’s not surprising; agents and brokers are taught to grow their spheres of influence, and mass friending seems to be a popular technique.
Because of this, daily I see, as my friend Valerie Garcia calls it, “the good, the bad and the ugly” when it comes to agents and brokers on social media, so I wanted to offer eight tips for real estate professionals mindfully aiming for “the good.”
1. Identify yourself clearly
Make sure your profile publicly shows your location and what you do in real estate. The first thing I do when I receive a friend request from someone I haven’t met offline is pull up their profile. It is amazing how many real estate agents do not identify themselves as such — and many who do still neglect to publicly show the market they serve.
Prior to joining Zillow Group, I coached agents for years on how to avoid “secret agent syndrome.” Make it easy for people to know what you do and where you do it! Help consumers and agents with referral needs find you.
2. Remove past jobs that don’t make you look good
While you’re editing your profile, take a fresh look at what past and current jobs are displayed and how they appear. You might have been at five brokerages in the last six years, but the world doesn’t need to know that. Only show past jobs that benefit you in the eyes of consumers and potential consumers.
3. Make real estate your No. 1, but don’t be over the top with your title
A growing percentage of agents have “side hustles” on top of their real estate career. I’m not opposed to this – it’s a pretty natural occurrence for entrepreneurs in my opinion. However, if your primary career is selling real estate, make sure that shows in how you present yourself on your profile. If a consumer must scroll down past two or three side hustles to see you listed as an agent, they’re likely less likely to feel warm and fuzzy about choosing you.
This is only made worse when you anoint yourself with multiple titles that all pertain to one role. Every agent can essentially call themselves “CEO of the (your name here) real estate group,” with some inevitably tacking on “President” as well for good measure.
Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.
4. Tailor your messaging
While Facebook eliminated the ability to view a specific friends list “feed” last fall, friends lists in general are here to stay. These lists offer a fantastic way for you to tailor your social media messaging to specific audiences.
I’m a big advocate for taking full advantage of this — have a list for past clients, a different list for local agents, a different list for agent referral partners around the country, etc. When you go to share a post, take the time to stop and think about who the proper audience for that post should be. Public posts are just that. You might think that real estate meme from 2009 is hilarious, but do your clients and potential clients share that view?
As an example, an agent recently posted in a large real estate Facebook group that they had a consumer “fire” them as an agent due to a Zestimate meme that they shared, with the consumer saying that they found the negativity contrary to how they like to do business. Remember that you never make yourself look good by making others look bad.
I also see from time to time agents posting status updates bemoaning or taking pride in how hard it is to be an agent, sharing a list of all the negative aspects of the career. It’s one thing to share that with your agent friends, but how does that look to a consumer? I’ve never seen a doctor post saying yes, they make a lot of money, but here are all the costs involved to run a successful office.
Other posts falling under that umbrella include posts that elude to how many sales you had that week; when you do this, you’ve just told every one of those folks that they’re a number to you, and no one cares for that. If you are going to use this form of marketing, at least tweak the messaging to something along the lines of “proud to have helped seven families this week find their new homes!”
5. Be prudent with invite timing
Business pages are wonderful advertisement vehicles, but no matter what platform you’ve connected with someone on, don’t hit them up 3 seconds after accepting your connection to like your page or visit your website — especially if you’ve just friended or connected with someone you’ve never met.
Relationships take time – you can’t approach them with a microwave mentality.
6. Don’t invite people to groups they don’t care about
Never add someone to a group without their permission. Nobody likes to feel hijacked into a group that may or may not have anything to do with their interests. I love working with the real estate community, but no, I don’t need to be in your private “Upcoming Open Houses in Tempe, AZ Spotlight” group.
Invite people only if you genuinely think it’s relevant to them and let them make that decision.
7. Be respectful
Have respect for the people you’ve connected with on Facebook and set your friends list to private. Some folks just aren’t that choosy with whom they accept requests from, and what often happens is that lovely young lady in Latvia (who joined Facebook yesterday) that you connected with decides to friend/message/poke every one of your friends.
When you have a few thousand friends, this begins to happen to you with alarming frequency. I’m not here to say who you should and shouldn’t be friends with, but at least spare us from the spam by making it harder for spammers to find your friends.
8. Don’t be creepy
Now, what do I mean by that? I had a good friend from college message me last week asking why a couple older real estate connections of mine asked to follow her on Instagram. None of these gentlemen serviced the part of the country that my friend lives in. Social media attitudes have changed over the last half decade and “friending” someone isn’t quite as personal as it used to be.
This behavior isn’t welcomed by most, and worse, when that friend mentions it to the person whom they actually know, it certainly paints you in a new (not good) light. And don’t get me started on liking photos from years ago. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get a chill when they wake up to see that someone went on a “liking” spree overnight. Reputations take years to build and seconds to tarnish.
My best advice is to be respectful, be authentic, be professional and be you.