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This post was updated Nov. 6, 2023.
How do you do that? Keep your personal beliefs and your business separated, and focus your marketing on your most important asset — your customers.
Gurus will tell you that making viral content that shows your most authentic self is the secret ingredient to crafting a career that won’t quit, but in the same vein of pushing aggressive sales tactics, pushing overly passionate political and spiritual views may leave a sour taste in your general audience’s mouth.
As a former continuing education teacher of ethics and social media training, I’ve been creating content about cleaning up social profiles since 2014. While everyone is looking for a quick fix to gain a solid social media following, they’re often missing those fatal mistakes that can kill your following and your reputation.
The secret to keeping your social media healthy isn’t that hard. The magic words are: Less is more.
3 ways to keep it clean
Here are three ways you can make sure you’re not the nightmare on social media:
1. Don’t be a troll
Social media platforms are designed with two purposes in mind: to keep you engaged and to keep you on the platform longer. That’s it. With so many different conversations, it’s very easy to get swept up in what I like to call conversational creep — especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.
Conversational creep is when you let a conversation you are following or engaging in online creep into your forward-facing profiles by liking or sharing it.
Remember to hit pause before you like, share and comment, and ask yourself if it’s really necessary and if you want this like, share or comment attached to your reputation for the rest of your digital and physical life.
It’s like squeezing a tube of toothpaste — very easy to get out, nearly impossible to get back in. If you are feeling exceptionally sad, mad, or escalated, interacting on social media is not the best place to work out those issues. In fact, that is where I see most people find themselves in hot water faster than you can say hurly-burly.
One doesn’t need a crystal ball to predict that careless interactions online can turn you into a troll (even unintentionally). So again, remember that you work with the public, and to keep the peace, you have to give up certain knuckleheaded practices (like trolling) that generally make social media an unpleasant place to be anyway.
Creep through conversations without leaving a digital trail.
2. Nix drama by making your own buckets
Create simple buckets that are positive and show value, and your audience will not only know what to expect, but they will be primed to engage with it.
Bucket example 1:
- Sales updates
- Good eats
Bucket example 2:
- Market reports
- Budget tips
- Home décor
Bucket example 3:
- First-time buyer education
- Family activities
Bucket example 4:
- Open houses / new listings
- Mortgage updates
- Local festivals/music scene
Identifying at least four buckets gives you plenty of room to not only identify good content to post and share but it helps you eliminate content that isn’t part of your personal marketing plan. Sure, you can go “off-bucket” now and again, but keeping a consistent and friction-free message is your best bet to create content that doesn’t require a heavy lift to clean up after you post it.
If you want to stay drama-free, stick to a bucket method, and your future self will thank you.
3. Avoid things that’ll keep your broker up at night
If you have strong political or social views, you have a responsibility to your current and future clients to create a neutral space in your marketing that is free from judgment and discrimination.
That means not posting things about marginalized groups.
Again, less is more, and your broker will thank you if you can keep your socials focused on the business at hand and not craft posts that will give them high blood pressure.
Be a daydream and not a nightmare social tips:
- Understand that when you work with the public, you must compromise how you use social media. If you want to do it well, you will hire professionals to help you create a content plan to keep you out of hot water.
- When scanning back through past posts, if there is something you are not sure about, delete it.
- If you are emotional, call someone and vent it out. Stay off social media, and don’t make videos when you feel escalated.
- Alcohol consumption and social media posts are often not a successful mix.
- You are responsible for understanding how social media works and how your activity can be monitored and viewed.
- Write it out, and share it with your team before you share it with the world. Get a few opinions.
- Keep your church at church and out of your business. If you want to share devotions and other religious content, create a closed/private group that folks can opt out of and post there. If your audience wants that content, they will follow you there 100 percent.
- Keep your political beliefs out of your business. Your job is to help all people, not just people who vote like you.
- Beware of commenting on news sources. Your comments can make you famous or infamous quickly.
- If you are in a leadership position, consider hiring a public relations expert to audit your current marketing presence and help create a stronger one. It may be the best money you ever spend.
- Social media lives on — even if you delete the post or comment. It takes only a second to create a screenshot. Before you post or comment, ask yourself if you need to post this. Give these questions some serious consideration:
- What is the message?
- Who is the audience?
- Who does it serve?
- How much value does it offer?
- Imagine the individual you are posting about is right in front of you. Would you say this to their face? If not, don’t post!
Why is this so important? Because posts can cause violence and harm to real people in the real world. Social media is powerful. That’s why Meta has specific guidelines — because people get killed and injured because of hate speech.
On a human level, this isn’t about following the code of ethics as an agent; this is about doing what you can to make sure that you don’t contribute to someone being harmed. What other people do with their lives is really none of your personal or professional business.
Why we need to keep it clean
In the past, when I was teaching ethics and social media to agents, I saw agents struggle with keeping the separation of their personal beliefs and politics in real time. My classes on social media were popular and well-attended, not because I was sharing hacks for leads, but because I was sharing hacks for keeping yourself out of hot water.
I used to joke that it was the ultimate job security because agents constantly found ways to get themselves in trouble online. But years later, it’s not funny. It’s exhausting. It’s sad. It’s discouraging. Do you want to improve the industry? Let’s start with cleaning up the garbage online.
In other words: The road to hell is paved with good intentions and miscalculations. Let’s keep our socials clean, Friends, so we can keep the conversation focused on your business, not troll-like activity.
Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram.