Real estate agents lose business all the time, and one big culprit is social media channels — especially Facebook. I’ve personally learned this lesson the hard way, and it was not fun.

Losing business on Facebook almost always stems from the belief that your “friends” and “followers” on social media have the same thoughts and feelings that you have. Those thoughts and feelings can apply to religion, politics, social issues and more. It’s very easy to type up a status or tweet quickly and hit “send” or “update.”

We might view ourselves as clever because we let our friends know what we stand for and why that stance is correct (in our opinion). But not so fast. Doing this over and over can and will cost you business — not to mention referrals — eventually. Here is the worst part: You won’t even know that business is lost.

Here are ways real estate agents lose business through social media and how you can avoid the same mistakes.

Be like Switzerland

As a real estate agent, you are a small-business owner. Yes, you work for your real estate company, but you are your business. When it comes to social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, roughly 50 percent of your friends and followers could have different beliefs and views regarding a variety of political and social issues. There is nothing wrong with having strong opinions and beliefs, but blasting controversial content over social media and making fun of the other side can be financially costly to your real estate business.

It is a bad idea to alienate half of your social media base when all of them are potential clients and referral sources. The old saying holds true here: “Business doesn’t go away, it just goes somewhere else.” The No. 1 reason people decide to do business with you is because they like you. If you ramble about politics, social issues or controversial topics, your social media base may not want to use your services as a real estate agent. And they undoubtedly will not refer you to friends and family. When it comes to these issues and posting to social media, it is best to be neutral — like Switzerland.

You vs. your online persona

This phenomenon is strange because in your daily life, you don’t walk up to clients, prospects and friends and start talking about politics, social issues and other controversial things, yet on social media it is done all the time. On social media you are still talking to the same people, saying the same controversial things, just in a different way. People might not “like” your post or “comment” on it, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t see it and think, “Wow … I don’t agree at all!”

At that moment, you probably just lost a potential client. It’s tough to keep growing your real estate business if people are leaving your network and you don’t realize it. Your online persona does not need to be a mirror image of you. Your end goal is to get to know people better, strengthen relationships and grow your base, not push people away.

How to manage your social media moving forward

1. Remain neutral on social media. Your message is hitting your whole network.

2. Join Facebook groups that champion your politics and social agendas. It is a lot more fun talking to like-minded people than it is trying to convert others.

Note: You still need to be mindful of what you say in these groups. Facebook is never as secret and secure as we would like it to be, so don’t post anything anywhere that you wouldn’t be comfortable with your boss or your mother reading.

3. Think twice before hitting “send” or “update status.” Read your post again and consider whether it’s appropriate. It might seem amusing to you right now, but others might not think so.

4. If you must chime in with comments and replies, offer valid points and present yourself well. Don’t say anything that could discredit you, and resist the temptation to insult or belittle those who disagree with you, no matter what they post. Many other people see your social media comments and react to them.

5. You work hard to build your social media base and increase positive engagement. Never forget that everyone is a potential homebuyer or seller who can also pass along referrals.

It can be tough to refrain from posting to let everyone know why you support a cause or to write a quick, snippy rebuttal to something you read online. The fastest way real estate agents lose business is by alienating parts of their social media base and driving that business away. Focus on positive social media engagement, and your base will grow and present more business opportunities.

Wade Vander Molen is the director of sales/marketing for Stewart Title and has been in the title industry since 2005.

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