Many agents want to engage with their “friends” on social media, but there’s certainly a wrong way to do it. Here are four things agents should never do to get likes.

Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent the past six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.

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“Likes”. Those often elusive, frighteningly desirable clicks on little hearts and upturned thumbs seem to provide validation for our lives, our thoughts and our businesses.

Why? Why does a heart, or a thumb or a number matter to us?

Fundamentally, there’s the basic human need for acceptance. It’s called social media; we are social creatures, so having another member of the tribe show acknowledgement and support is important to us. We crave it, we seek it out, we want it. We’re humans.

“Likes” are also part of the way the Facebooks and Instagrams of the world decide what to serve up to users’ newsfeeds. So if you’re using social media to generate interest and contacts, to increase your brand’s reach and exposure, then you want people to engage with your content and “vote” for it by liking it.

So there’s this basic human desire for engagement, and there’s potentially a business need for them. Given that, it’s only natural that some people will go to quite the extreme to get said “likes”.

Some kinds of activities will just backfire. In the quest to rack up  more “likes,” some will try tactics that make sense on the surface, but do nothing, or even worse, reflect badly on the business.

Let’s talk about four things you should never do to get likes.

1. Never buy likes

I guarantee you someone is reading this and thinking, “You can buy likes?”

Yes, you can. Welcome to the internet economy. There are two general types of services. One sells “likes” for your posts and comments from fake accounts, “account farms” and bots. Another service uses bots posing as you to follow other accounts and like other people’s posts and comments.

The thinking here is those people will then follow you back and like your posts.

Clever, huh?

Seems deceptive, underhanded and slimy too.

I mean think about it. Do you really want to attract business using deceptive practices? Do you think many of today’s consumers can’t see straight through what you’re doing?

Listen, when you have 600 followers on Instagram, and you post a pic of your office party, it isn’t normal to have 250 likes. Real estate agents selling in Arizona don’t usually have these kind of folks (pictured below) finding and liking images of a pool, a cactus in the sunset or your logo or your office party.

Rather than appearing popular, successful or whatever it is you’re looking for with buying “likes”, what you look like to many is a cheat.

That’s not really a trait people are looking for in an agent.

Not to mention that buying likes violates these sites’ terms of use. You’re thinking: “Big deal, who cares about the big bad Facebook’s terms of service?”

Facebook cares. If I can spot bought “likes” and fake followers just by scrolling by or glancing at a profile, do you really think Facebook and Instagram can’t spot them too?

Have fun waking up one morning and finding out that account you bought the fake followers and “likes” for has been suspended. That’ll make your brand really shine.   

Finally, there’s that pesky Realtor Code of Ethics.

Realtors shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations.” (Article 12)

Buying “likes” isn’t “honest and truthful” no matter how you try to spin it.

If you’re buying likes, stop. Now! It’s gross.

Don’t be gross.

2. Avoid pressuring your ‘friends’

“Like this post, or drop a comment, and I’ll send you the early access code to view my webinar first!”


First, your webinar is not that good. Even if it was, your attempt to drive “engagement” is lame, obvious to many and only marginally effective.

Heck, if you’re going to go full-blown smarmy, grovel for an email address. At least then you’ll have a relatively easy way to spam, I mean prospect, for business.

I’d like to find the “guru” who first exposed this “engagement” practice and thump him or her on the head. It’s about as inorganic as you can get.

If you’re an agent and skip over this, thinking that it’s aimed at vendors, take note that, posting “Like or comment to get a first peek at upcoming listings!” is equally barfy.

Don’t be barfy.

3. Don’t use too much gamification

Gamification — the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.

I don’t want to say never use gamification. But you do need to be careful with it, as you do with any marketing or branding effort.

A typical gamification-like thing some agents do is post pictures of two homes and write something along the lines of, “Like for House 1, Love for House 2.”

Nothing wrong with that. Assuming, of course, you have permission to use any images. It can actually be pretty effective for follower retention and engagement.

Contests and giveaways for things such as following and liking, though, can be fraught with hazard. You need to understand the site’s rules and regulations for contests.

You need to understand your local and state laws, rules and regulations on running contests, games of chance, raffles, etc. Many don’t. Some have paid handsomely for their ignorance.

Don’t be ignorant.

4. Don’t like your own posts

Volumes have been written about whether or not you should “like” your own posts and comments.

While mixed, the general consensus is one more like doesn’t impact algorithms, and it just looks goofy when you like your own stuff.

Of course you like that quote you posted. That’s why you posted it, right?

In the grand scheme of things, whether you “like” your own posts and comments doesn’t really matter. Personally, I find the behavior puzzling. Many others seem to as well.

There will be a legion of people who think you’re goofy for liking your own material. Never being one to cater to what some will think, but also understanding that it does matter from a business perspective, my thought on liking your own material is: Don’t be goofy.  

What should I do for likes?

Don’t do this, don’t do that. That’s all fine and dandy. Hopefully, this has been good (or at least entertaining) information. 

But what should be done for likes?

That’s a fair and reasonable question. Tune in next week for the other half of the story.

Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the mastermind behind Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty.

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