30 Must-Follow Real Estate Social Media Etiquette Rules for Agents
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
Minding your manners, acting “appropriate,” and following the rules don’t just matter offline. Proper etiquette is required in real estate social media marketing if you want to grow your following, get traffic to your website, and cultivate a sizable leads database. Abide by these 30 important rules pertaining to your real estate social media strategy and you’ll stay in your audience’s good graces — and improve your online marketing metrics.
Rule #1: If your audience poses questions, answer them — and pronto.
More than half of consumers expect brands to respond to their Twitter messages within an hour — a figure that jumps to more than 70% when it pertains to negative comments — so answering their queries promptly can go a long way in providing assistance and avoiding bad public relations from an unhappy client or lead. Don’t doubt the power one consumer can have on your business; even Fortune 500 companies have dealt with major PR issues stemming from seemingly minor customer complaints.
Rule #2: Share lots of informative content, and less promotional content.
The old “80/20” Rule applies when sharing on social media. That means 80% of the content you share should provide some kind of value to your audience, like answering a commonly asked question or providing new insights. The remaining 20%, on the other hand, can be promotional. In the case of social media for real estate agents, this rule certainly applies — though as with any marketing concept, experimentation is required, so play around with the types of content you share. Speaking of experimentation …
Rule #3: Test your publication frequency to find the appropriate middle ground.
Search “social media automation software” in Google, and you won’t have any trouble finding solutions that give you insights into which day of the week is best for Facebook marketing, what types of blog posts get retweeted most on Twitter, and so on. Major social networks also offer their own proprietary analytics, some of which are more comprehensive than others, but nonetheless can provide enough information to help you form decisions on what, when, and where to publish.
Rule #4: Don’t ask people to follow you — convince them you’re worth following.
Asking people to follow your real estate social media accounts makes just about as much sense as buying followers and likes (more on that in a bit): You’re essentially saying, “Hey, you probably don’t know me, but you should like me and listen to what I have to say.” Instead of begging for an audience, prove you’re worth following. Share the best real estate content that provides in-depth tips and unique ideas on buying, selling, and owning homes. Inform other social media users with round-ups on the latest housing and mortgage market data. Publish consistent, valuable posts on social media and you’ll garner plenty of follows and likes and, more importantly, the right kinds of leads.
Rule #5: Authenticity is essential — users can smell phony brands from a mile away.
Serial entrepreneur and gagillionaire Elon Musk once said, “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” Show everyone on social media that you’re a real person who actually wants to help your audience by engaging in meaningful conversations, answering their questions, and providing them with content, and it’ll become clear you’re an agent with one goal: to help. It’s easy to recognize which brands and professionals phone it in on social media and which take the time and energy to address their audience’s concerns.
Rule #6: Showing off your personality doesn’t mean sharing personal photos and updates.
Your personal Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts are great places to share videos of your baby niece and photos of your vacation to Spain. Your real estate social media accounts, however, are for — you guessed it — your real estate business. People won’t want to follow your brand to learn random, unrelated tidbits about your social circle or plans for the weekend, so don’t bore them with the details. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be personable (and even humorous) with your posts. For instance, take Instagram photos of yourself with clients, relaxing in their new abode (maybe by the fireplace or pool). You’re showing you care about your customers and that you’re relatable and down-to-earth.
Rule #7: Creativity is how you’ll build the real estate social media audience you desire.
Instagramming with clients is just one of many different creative angles you can take with your social media marketing for real estate. From Twitter chats discussing common challenges your audience faces when buying and selling to hosting live Hangouts on Google+ in which you offer tips and tricks for homeowners, there are endless opportunities for you to separate your social media presence from other agents who don’t take social media as seriously. Creating visual-heavy content, like real estate reports, and sharing these guides and graphics with your following, can indicate to them you want to be their go-to real estate resource.
Rule #8: Capitalize on the latest hashtags and trends … but beware of sensitive subjects.
Though partaking in new hashtags or hopping on the bandwagon for a new social media trends (see: Gangnam Style, Harlem Shake, etc.) may have zero implications for your business, tactics like these offer one advantage: They show you don’t take yourself too seriously. When it comes time for buyers and sellers to identify the best agents to represent their housing needs, more often than not they want someone who has a successful track record … but they also want to work with someone who’s affable and likable. What better way to display these qualities than to show off your lighter side on social media?
Rule #9: Don’t overdo it with hashtags — and definitely don’t hijack other brands’ hashtags.
Publishing once a day on each social network with the latest hashtag craze is one thing. Sending out multiple tweets and status updates daily featuring popular hashtags, though, is just a waste of time. Similarly, using another company’s hashtag is a big social media no-no. There are plenty of hashtags you can develop for your own business to help promote webinars, podcasts, and in-person events. Conduct due diligence when contemplating short and catchy hashtags to use in your real estate marketing and search them on each social channel to ensure no other company, organization, or professional is taking advantage of them.
Rule #10: Automation is helpful, but personalization is crucial to connecting with your audience.
Marketing automation aids real estate agents — from helping them develop drip email marketing campaigns to organizing their real estate blogging efforts. Its uses are varied, but that doesn’t mean automation is optimal for every marketing activity. This software should be used to set a good social media foundation (in other words, use it to schedule a minimum acceptable number of posts to publish daily), but use real-time posting to fill in the remaining content you wish to share on each social platform. Avoid auto-direct messages as well. If people follow you, thank them individually. A stock “I appreciate your follow — now visit my website!” response can lead to an immediate unfollow, due largely to its impersonal and overly promotional nature of your reply.
Rule #11: Be careful whose content you share — associating with the wrong people could hurt you.
Before deciding to retweet or repin someone else’s social media content, take a close look at their profile page — in particular, their bios and what they typically publish. If you end up sharing a status update from someone who’s affiliated with sketchy organizations or has posted insensitive content in the past, you could end up being associated with them. It may not be fair that social media users could align your brand with a person, company, or group that’s involved in inappropriate behavior and messaging, but that can happen. Think before you share to avoid a PR headache that could prove difficult to dig yourself out of.
Rule #12: As with your offline life, the Golden Rule applies to your social media business strategy.
You learned it in kindergarten — and it hopefully stuck with you: Treat others as you wish to be treated. One of the pitfalls of using social media for real estate (or any industry, for that matter) is there will inevitably be times when heated arguments take place, digital fingers are pointed, and people become upset about what others have to say. You can avoid these instances by evading touchy situations and, as you may have guessed already, treating your audience with the utmost respect. If users call you out for saying or doing something they deem disrespectful (online or offline), offer a sincere apology and assure them you meant no harm. As Cotential CEO Erica Dhawan notes in this Inc. post:
- “Think of public apologies on social media as an opportunity to make a personal connection with your customers. This type of public interaction will show the rest of the world how you deal under pressure. And if you act with humility, you will only strengthen your brand.”
Rule #13: When sharing others’ content, give them a clear citation.
Many marketers allocate lots of time and effort to creating their blog posts, infographics, videos, and other content types. Thus, they deserve due credit. When sharing content, make sure to attribute it to its creator. Doing so is one way to earn reciprocity on social media: They, in turn, become more inclined to share your content. Find users with significant followings whose content is worth sharing. That way, should they share your content with their audience, you’ll get maximum exposure and, in all likelihood, many more clicks to your website.
Rule #14: Avoid creating multiple real estate social media profiles on the same network.
No, we don’t mean you can’t have your personal account and business page for each social media channel. Rather, we’re talking about setting up multiple social media profiles for your business on the same platform. Some companies think having multiple Facebook pages will benefit their businesses by giving them a broader reach. That’s just not the case — at least for real estate agents. If you were running a brick-and-mortar chain that had multiple locations, for example, setting up a Facebook Business Page for each location might be in your best interest. But if you’re running an agency from one office, a single page is all you need.
Rule #15: Some feedback doesn’t warrant a reply — especially overly negative comments.
There is a certain segment of internet users known as “trolls”: those who dedicate their time to disparaging and insulting the rest of the online world. These folks undoubtedly exist in the real estate sphere, so don’t be surprised if, on occasion, you receive a comment from one of these people making fun of your profile photo or telling you your business is awful. The whole point of trolling is to get a rise out of people — so don’t let them win. Simply ignore what they have to say, and if they prove to be a constant annoyance, have them blocked by the social network. The worst thing you can do is engage in an ugly back-and-forth, which will only hurt your brand and prevent you from focusing on your actual social media marketing management.
Rule #16: It may seem best to delete negative comments, but unless they’re abusive, don’t.
Nearly half of marketing professionals who use social media to promote their businesses don’t have a plan in place to deal with negative comments. While you may think people won’t send mean or distasteful messages your way on social media, think again. You’d be surprised how some people act online when they don’t have to worry about confronting a person face to face. Unless a negative comment you receive insults you personally or is highly offensive, your best bet is to simply leave it be. This may seem counterintuitive, but most people have common sense and can discern when these social media comments hold merit and when they don’t. If a disparaging comment from an unhappy client is posted, simply engage that client in a calm manner and say you’re sorry for their poor experience and that you’re always open to feedback. In other words, kill ‘em with kindness and take the high road.
Rule #17: Don’t follow too many people on social media, as others may think you’re a spam-bot.
Ever see those Twitter accounts where the “person” in question follows 100,000 people and only has 2,000 followers and 10 tweets? They don’t seem that real, do they? That’s because they’re either not (they’re Twitter bots) or they’re people who aren’t very good at this social media thing. It’s fine to follow those who interest you, but don’t take it to the extreme, as you could end up looking desperate to have a large following and seem less focused on providing actual value with your account.
Rule #18: You may not be in school anymore, but proper grammar and spelling count.
Before the internet came around, we had to rely on those bulky hard-cover books called dictionaries to determine whether we were spelling words (and using them) correctly. Nowadays, if you use poor grammar and misspell words, there’s really no excuse: There are tons of tools at your disposal to ensure your writing is tight, neat, and cohesive — including the copy in your social media posts. The Grammar Police may not be real, but your audience will still think less of you if you constantly make mistakes of spelling, syntax, and grammar. Of course, you can always avoid using fancy phrases and words in your content to avoid mistakes, but that wouldn’t be prudent or sagacious (see what I did there?).
Rule #19: Overusing hashtags is the easiest way to deter clicks, so be selective with yours.
Each social network is different regarding hashtag best practices. For instance, research shows hashtags don’t really have a big effect for Facebook in terms of reach, while tweets with one or two hashtags get 21% more engagement than tweets with three or more hashtags. However, as with testing times and days to publish your content, try different hashtag counts for each social channel and learn what works for your posts.
Rule #20: Repetitiveness kills, so eliminate — or at the very least modify — redundant posts.
Mix up copy for tweets and status updates that share content a few times per week so it seems like you’re sharing more original content than you are. It’s okay to share the same content often on social media, but the trick is to offer a different spin each time you post. For instance, if you share a blog post highlighting a food truck festival in your town, have one tweet about a round-up of the event and a second asking your followers what their favorite local food truck is.
Rule #21: Disagreeing with others and providing different perspectives is great — in moderation.
Healthy debate among friends and family is common, but it also occurs from time to time between strangers on social media. If someone posts something you disagree with online — like saying your local housing market isn’t performing that well — it’s okay to offer up your opinion on the matter. What’s not okay is spending a chunk of your time getting into a back-and-forth with someone you don’t know. Simply share your thoughts on a topic and let it be if you and another party can’t see eye to eye.
Rule #22: Don’t always direct links to gated content.
Despite what Gordon Gecko stated, greed is not good — at least when it comes to your social media presence. You should be thrilled when users click on your content and check out your blog. What won’t thrill users, though, is if most or all of the content links on your social media pages lead to a landing page requiring a form submission. Lead capture forms are helpful (and a must) for real estate agents, but the majority of your content should be open to everyone — meaning it shouldn’t require them to offer their email address to view it. For the content you do gate and share on social media, make it count. As marketing expert Barry Feldman notes in this Unbounce post:
- “If gating your content is going to work, you’ve got to create landing pages that convert at a high percentage, particularly for personas you deem to be important to your lead generation efforts.”
Rule #23: Tagging others is only appropriate when your content relates to them, so tag wisely.
Tagging your significant other in a photo from a party is one thing. Doing so for strangers with your real estate social media content is another. Know for certain that the person you tag in a post would actually find that post interesting. For instance, tagging leads in a photo of one of your listings on Facebook may alert them to a property they’d be interested in purchasing. But tagging someone who just started following you online with the same listing photo will only lead to confusion (and a swift unfollow).
Rule #24: Steer clear of posting copyrighted materials — lawsuits can happen (and have happened).
Just like you should abide by “fair use” laws for other facets of your real estate marketing, ensure whatever content from other people and brands you share on your social media accounts isn’t copyright protected. A single Facebook update featuring someone else’s photo that isn’t allowed to be shared could result in a legal battle (and an unnecessary one, at that). Your best option is to create your own media to use with your social posts or hire a photographer or graphic designer to develop materials for you.
Rule #25: Stock photos have a place in social media marketing, but be careful how you use them.
Paying for stock photos is another way to get imagery to accompany your written content, like blog posts. However, generic pictures can show a lack of effort with your marketing, so choose the photos and images you use on social media wisely. In fact, it’s ideal to make stock photos your own by adding text overlays and designs to them (assuming you download stock images that allow for such alterations, of course). Use Photoshop or another photo editing tool to add copy, like the titles of your blog posts. You can even use the same fancy font you use for your real estate branding on the images to make them stand out.
Rule #26: When tragedies strike, be respectful and stay off of social media entirely.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where tragedies happen daily — some of which take over the world of social media. Marketing during tragic times doesn’t make much sense if many people are grieving, so halt your real estate social media efforts altogether for the days these events occur. The last thing you want is to end up making terrible social media mistakes like these companies did and show a lack of respect for those affected by misfortune.
Rule #27: Many social media groups are for sharing ideas, not promotion, so know the rules.
Managing your social media presence on multiple channels doesn’t solely entail posting your content. Engaging in social media groups and communities that exist on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social networks is helpful for lead generation and making business connections. Many of these groups don’t allow self-promotion of any kind, though, so leave your marketing hat at the door and simply converse with like-minded professionals and prospective buyers and sellers in these communities.
Rule #28: Publish only high-quality images and photos to stay consistent with your branding.
Successful real estate agents are ones with attractive, optimized, responsive websites. What makes them attractive isn’t just the web design, but also the media they use across the site. The same goes for social media profiles. For instance, Facebook posts with images have an engagement rate of 87%. That means attention to detail with the graphics you share on social media is essential. Pixelated graphics and pictures show you don’t care about your real estate branding, so ensure you use consistent fonts, colors, and clean, attractive images and photos with your tweets, status updates, and other social posts.
Rule #29: Social proof can help secure new leads, but don’t over-post testimonials and reviews.
One of the best ways to convince your audience you’re a great agent is to share kind words from buyers and sellers you’ve represented. Over-sharing these real estate testimonials and reviews, however, can lead to a drop in engagement. Add tweets and status updates featuring this social proof on occasion (mixed in to your 20% promotional content on social media), but it’s better to save it for your leads who are further down the funnel, like those on your email marketing lists.
Rule #30: Promote your brand and listings within reason — over-promotion can ruin your reputation.
Just as it’s ideal to take it easy on posting compliments from past clientele, it’s equally important not to be self-promotional all the time. You may have won an award or been named a top-producer in your market, but sharing this info regularly on social media will fall on deaf ears. Sure, your qualified leads surely want to know about your accolades and certifications, but social media followers mostly want to consume content and get to know you. The same mentality should be applied to your listings: Posting pictures and videos of home buyers and their new residences can be very effective on Facebook and Instagram, but sharing countless photos of listings you’re looking to sell on a daily basis won’t appeal to most of your followers, so save that promotion for your email efforts.
What other rules do you follow when it comes to using social media for business? Share your expert social media tips with us in the comments below.
Published on April 22, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.