Recent research shows 72% of Americans use some form of social media. This is a significant increase of 67% since the Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005. The most commonly used platforms are YouTube and Facebook. Other social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest have a smaller market share.
There’s no denying that social media is a huge asset for real estate professionals. The ease of social sharing means your marketing messages may be seen and heard by a large audience. It’s also a quick, easy and inexpensive way to share property content.
There are risks though. And, here are 4 reasons why you need a Social Media Policy for your real estate brokerage…
1. Your Agents’ Behavior Can Make or Break Your Reputation
There are 2.74 billion users on Facebook alone. The average person shares 1.55 posts per day. Information can be shared fast. If it’s good information, it can help your real estate business. But if it’s something negative, like a derogatory or discriminatory comment, it can be hard to contain. Negative news travels fast too. This can do enormous damage to your reputation as a broker and can destroy the goodwill you’ve built up over years of work.
2. What Your Agents Say (or Post) Could Result in a Lawsuit
Brokers can be held responsible for not only what they do and say themselves, but also for the actions of their team. Imagine if one of your agents says something wildly inappropriate or offensive online. Or, even worse, an agent gets into a heated argument on social media with another user.
Because of the informality of social media, innocent mistakes are also common, such as:
- Providing incorrect answers when responding to questions and comments on social media
- Commenting on things outside the scope of a real estate professional (e.g., mortgages, neighborhood crime stats, development possibilities)
- Typos in the property description, which could mislead prospective buyers
Accuracy is so important in real estate, especially when content can be shared at a rapid pace.
There have also been cases where lawsuit claims have been lodged for misuse of intellectual property (for example, using images owned by a third party). The accidental disclosure of confidential information (images of properties showing personal belongings or breaching privacy) can also be problematic.
Make sure your agents understand that their personal social media accounts, as well as their business websites, could get the brokerage in trouble, if agents are posting inaccurate information about listings.
3. It Sets the Expectations of What’s Acceptable
A social media policy is your opportunity as a broker to set the record straight about what you expect of your agents. It should outline what is acceptable and what is not. Be as specific as possible about any behaviors you consider inappropriate. Be sure your social media policy covers:
- Posting on behalf of the brokerage on social media accounts owned by the brokerage
- Posting real estate information, comments, or discussions on personal social media accounts
- Posting real estate information or commentary on a website or blog the agent may control
- Posting real estate information, comments, or discussions on third-party websites
Your social media policy should also outline what the consequences are for breaches and if/when termination of employment would be considered.
4. It’s Helpful for Staff Training
A social media policy is a valuable training tool for your team, and it encourages a high standard of professionalism. The policy should cover exactly how you want your team to engage with others on social media and how this relates to your customer service policy.
The policy should also specify who is authorized to post on social media on behalf of your business. Implementing these controls can minimize your risk of being sued in the future.
The Social Media Policy should be part of your real estate agent inductions, and it should be regularly updated.
Protect Your Business With CRES E&O Insurance
While a Social Media Policy can help to protect your business, it’s no replacement for quality E&O insurance. Insurance coverage is essential to running a successful real estate brokerage. To ensure you have adequate insurance protection for your entire team, contact the team at CRES. CRES’ extensive real estate E&O insurance packages can be tailored specifically to suit your business needs.
CRES E&O Insurance + ClaimPrevent® policies givee you access to pre-claim legal advice from qualified attorneys 7 days a week, so you can protect your business and minimize risk.
Contact the team at CRES at 800-880-2747 for a confidential discussion today.