Mathias Bergendahl's Marketing Blog

Realtor® Case Studies: Five Cautionary Tales about Social Media

If you’ve followed my blog articles you’ve probably come across my suggestions to separate your personal and professional use of social media platforms: I recommend setting up one profile for each at Facebook. In fact, an industry colleague suggested that Realtors® should have three profiles: one for personal use, one for consumers, and one where they connect with peers. Why? Because the way we communicate with each group is very different.

In today’s blog article I thought I’d share five stories that highlight the sometimes dangerous waters we travel when posting messages onto platforms without knowing who may read them. The suggestions below pertain specifically to what you may post at a business-oriented profile open to the public, not your personal Facebook profile, which I recommend you have closed to the general public, and content you may share at your blog and any other platform.

1. “I have a listing appointment today!”

It’s a natural thing to do. When we have a successful day we want to share it with those closest to us. Upon setting an appointment, a few years ago an agent would possibly walk over to the broker to share the great news, send a text message to their significant other, send an email to friends, or maybe discuss it with family over dinner. These days, we have Facebook and Twitter through which we share our news. And, the messages we share must be chosen very carefully as not everyone may perceive the news as good.

Following a class I taught on social media marketing a member approached me and told a story that had happened to her a few months ago. Eager to build up a large group of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, she had invited everyone she knew to visit her at her respective platforms. One day she posted the message “I have a listing appointment today!” Most of the responses were positive, except one. A seller whose home she had represented for close to a year wasn’t as excited about the news. A stern comment was posted underneath her Facebook update: “Shouldn’t you focus on selling the homes you currently have listed before you try to list new homes?”

Be mindful when you post messages at Facebook and Twitter as everything you say will be scrutinized. Consider who might read your messages and make sure you don’t risk alienating or even offending someone who’s connected with you online.

2. Transparency Test: Would You Be Comfortable with Your Comments Posted at the Front Page of the St. Petersburg Times?

One day last year I was in the process of posting a link to one of my blog articles at the NAR group at when I discovered a note that easily could have landed the contributing writer in serious legal trouble. A broker had posted a two-sentence headline to share this frustration and anger with a national bank. The first sentence mentioned the name of the bank. The second sentence included the word boycott. Another member of the NAR group chimed in with an agreeing statement “yes, we should definitely boycott [name of the bank went here].”

The laws we abide by, including but not limited to anti-trust and fair housing laws, apply online as much as they do offline, and it’s absolutely essential to screen any messages you distribute to make sure they aren’t against the law.

3. “Congratulations: All Your Cows are in the Barn”

The message is made up but the meaning was about the same as one posted on the Facebook wall of a member. He was a frequent participant in the popular Facebook game FarmVille and didn’t think much about the various activities he would engage in. He shared that he’s mainly engaged with bank-owned and short sales transactions and spends considerable time on the phone waiting to connect with loss mitigation departments, and that his Farmville activities often took place while waiting on hold. The perception among those following his Facebook updates was quite different. One day he emails a prospective client to follow up on a listing presentation he’d given just a week earlier. Asking whether they could meet again, he received the following response:

“I’ve been following what you do on Facebook and I don’t think you’re the Realtor® for me. I want to be represented by someone who will spend their time marketing my home. All I see you do all day long is FarmVille!”

4. “I don’t feel like working today!”

Picture the following scenario:

A Realtor® is representing a home that’s been for sale for several months and the seller is wondering what’s being done to sell his home. Specifically, he’s wondering what his Realtor® is doing to actively market and sell the home on a daily basis. He’s connected to his Realtor® through Facebook and one day comes across the message “I don’t feel like working today!” posted by his agent.

That was the case for a Realtor® who recently shared with me how such a seemingly benign message threatened her previously strong relationship with her client. In response to the update the agent received an email from her client telling her how offended she was by the message broadcast through Facebook.

Clients expect to be represented by someone who will work tirelessly on their behalf, not someone who “doesn’t feel like working today.” To be sure, there may be days where we’d rather hit the links or read a book at the beach, but why post updates on Facebook about it? This particular case clearly shows that sharing content that may be perceived as negative should be avoided to avoid affecting client relationships in a negative way.

5. Keeping Networking with Peers Separate from Consumers

Not long ago I read an article on a popular online real estate blog network that essentially chastised home sellers for not being realistic and “tone-deaf to the advice of an experienced Realtor®.” It seems the agent was upset because of a recent discussion he had had with a seller who refused to lower his price. The article had both a condescending and accusatory tone, and it was directed to peers with a number of suggestions on how to work with “impossible” clients.

Problem is that blogs are public and available for consumers to see. A search on his name in a major search engine led straight to his blog where the article was prominently featured.

As you probably know from my previous blog posts I view social media as an excellent way to reach out to consumers. I simply wanted to share these practical case studies to show how the use of Facebook, Twitter and other platforms may potentially damage a reputation.

If you found Realtor® Case Studies: Five Cautionary Tales about Social Media helpful, you may find How to Damage Your Reputation in Eight Easy Steps an interesting read as well.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great job on getting this out. Even the best of us need this poke to remmind us not to be stupid in public. It’s so easy and always unintentional, but it happens every day. Thanks, you’ve saved someone a lot of misery I’m sure.

Comment by Grayson Hodge

With all the emphasis on social media these days, I was looking for something cautionary about posting on the various media pages. I hadn’t thought of most of your observations, so thanks for the heads up. I’ll surely keep them in mind.

Comment by Loudell Insley

Thank you for addressing transparency. Social media is a powerful platform for the three “P’s”-People, Participation, Persuasion. To build a brand, one must bring or give value and create trust. That trust is gained and maintained ultimately by professionalism. If professionalism is the fire, then social media is the gasoline.

Comment by media4realtors

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