By Shane Singh, Editorial Intern, REALTOR® Magazine
Who, what, where, when, why, and how? Four speakers took on these classic questions at the 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Leadership Summit’s 21st Century Communications panel this afternoon, and related them back to social media. They argued that a digital identity is just as powerful as your true persona, and with great power comes great responsibility.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate, protect, and capitalize on social media:
On Using Facebook
“Don’t accept every person who friend-requests you,” says Shannon Williams King, NAR’s information, communication and professional development liaison for 2011. Do some digging around and try to identify the person if you don’t immediately recognize them, she adds. Your online networks, while not always exclusive, should still be monitored and filtered. The option to create lists in Facebook can also help you organize your growing number of “friends” and ensure you publish certain information to select audiences.
One other thing: Facebook is becoming more than just a social network — it can be a search engine too. In fact, on some days more people do searches on Facebook than Google, according to Williams King. By creating special interest pages on this social network, you can increase hits to your business’ profile or Web site. For example, Williams King created a “365 Road Warrior Marketing and Technology Tips” page, which now has more than 200 fans.
Choosing the Best Medium
“Let your personality determine what kind of social media you use,” says Lucien Salvant, NAR’s managing director of public relations. If you tend to be more photogenic or comfortable in from of a camera, try using YouTube to interact with clients. If you’re a skilled writer, focus on writing engaging blogs and snappy tweets on Twitter.
Protect Your Presence
NAR provides resources for understanding the liabilities of social media, such as possible defamation, commercial boycotts, and antitrust violations. (Go here for more information.) Some questions to consider are how you’ll monitor your social media sites, who gets access to them, and how you’ll handle negative postings. Deciding whether to delete negative comments or instead combat them head-on with an online rebuttal is tricky territory.
Whatever you decide, abide by NAR’s Code of Ethics, says NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik. Sometimes a simple, personal phone call to the party to discuss why they are upset can smoothe things over — and even motivate them to post something positive about your outreach.
Better Late Than Never
If you still haven’t succumbed to the pressure to get into social media, you might want to reconsider. It will be one of the primary search tools for the next generation of real estate buyers and sellers. If you’re still confused, ask a younger agent for some how-to help. More often than not, they’ll be happy to give you some guidance.