5 Social Media Mistakes Agents Often Make

5 Social Media Mistakes Agents Often Make

Over the past two-decades-plus we've seen all manner of social media mistakes and a common theme runs through all of them - many agents aren't taking the time to think about how their profiles look to potential clients.

One of the benefits of being a real estate coach is that I get to see a lot of real estate agents online social media profiles from week-to-week. Over the many years I have seen many bare-bones Facebook pages, countless unclaimed Realtor.com profiles, outdated agent portraits, and all manner of embarrassing mistakes.

Your own social media profiles can be easy to ignore. Many agents will create an account and then away they go, engaging on their platform of choice without a second thought about what their profile says about their business to potential prospects, referrals, and business opportunities. Much of what makes social media effective is the accumulation of "little wins" - doing things right that build up your potential for success. Mistakes like the below will harm your efforts to market in social media.

Here then are five themes of mistakes that I see real estate agents making with their social media profiles:

#1 Unbranded, Generic-Looking Profiles

It's been over 20 years since LinkedIn launched, nearly as much for Facebook, and more than 15 for Twitter, yet even today I run into agents who have created profiles that are bland and easily forgotten.

Treat your social media like you would your business card, letterhead, postcard, listing materials, and other business marketing. If you can't be bothered to treat your own business professionally, what impression does that give about how you might treat a transaction?

At bare-minimum, make sure you have a consistent banner and portrait. Better still, take the time to have a brand developed that communicates your professionalism and personality - here at The Lones Group we have spent the last two decades helping hundreds and hundreds of agents create unique real estate branding for their businesses. Check out some of our case-studies.

A consistent brand, portrait, and header will help potential clients and referrals not only regard you as a professional, but help them identify that they have found the right agent and build a memory of you when they encounter you again elsewhere on the Internet.

#2 Incomplete and Inconsistent Profiles

Missing branding and a portrait are bad, but a lot of profiles are incomplete in other ways. Your contact information should be easily found - both your email address and phone number. This invites potential clients to contact you in a way they are most comfortable. A consistent email address makes it easier for you to catch every prospect headed your way - without having to check half-a-dozen different mailboxes and risk missing a lead.

I frequently see profiles without an office address. Yes, the idea that someone will mail something to you is a bit quaint, but this critical information helps search engines connect the dots and understand where your business is - improving your odds of showing up in results shown to people in your local area.

Business hours aren't just a hallmark of professionalism, they give permission to prospects to call you at hours that a prospect might feel is intrusive. Naming your business hours on Facebook and your Google business profile helps you set expectations and personal boundaries from the start. It's hard enough to balance life and work as an agent, posting your business hours will help you get that mental break you need when you need to be "off work."

Finally, make sure you include to name-and-claim specialties, designations, and expert knowledge. Do you understand waterfront embankments, 1031 exchanges or VA loan procedures? That is special knowledge. For designations, include the full title, not just the letters, and one or two sentences explaining their value to the prospect. If you cannot say anything, like on LinkedIn, link to the designation description online or say something in your biography. This kind of information is critical to establishing your presence as an agent.

#3 Dated Information

Old photos are just as bad for business as inconsistent photos. Avoid the awkwardness of your prospects finally meeting you in person and realizing you look nothing like your portrait. Take a moment to update your profile portrait if you change your appearance or at least every couple or years. Styles change and this is a people-business, so embrace it and keep current.

Worse still, expired contact information could mean serious lost income. If you have moved brokerages, the wrong office information on your profiles could get you in trouble with your state's licensing board or multiple listing service.

Dated biographies can also lead to embarrassment. If you take a strong stand on outdated green-home technology or profess skill at navigating local zoning laws that have since changed - that could be an egg-on-your-face moment when an informed client or local builder reads your biography. Take the time to keep your bio up-to-date. Don't be afraid to use the same bio at all your profiles to make this task easier.

#4 Not Claiming Their Service Area

I've had plenty of agents tell me over the years that they will chase an opportunity anywhere and that they don't want to give the impression that they "only" work in certain cities or areas. Anyone that's been reading my Zebra Reports for long enough knows that I think working in areas you are unfamiliar with is not just bad business, but a disservice to the client and can even open you to liability. There really is no excuse to not share your service areas in your profiles and nearly every social network gives you the opportunity.

In Zillow and at Realtor.com, include both your cities and postal codes too. On your Google business profile (you do have one, don't you?) it's practically required so don't miss it. At LinkedIn you can include it in your summary. ActiveRain has several opportunities where you can name your area, including a sidebar where you can list them. Facebook lets you list your service areas and offers a map too - use it! You might have to be brief with the space Twitter gives you, but at least say something.

Claiming your service area helps your profiles rank better in search results shown in those areas and it gives prospects the confidence that they are reaching out to a local professional. If you are worried that neighboring areas are being left out, include, "and nearby areas," in your pitch.

#5 Not Replying to Comments and Reviews

If someone takes the time to write you a comment, my rule is to respond with a comment of equal value. A "This is great!" comment gets a short, "Thank you!" or "Glad you enjoyed this." When someone takes the time to write a couple sentences, I respond with a couple sentences of my own. Try to address your reply and make it personal so that you connect with the commenter. It will get easier with practice. When other people see your responses, it will encourage to leave their own comment, knowing that it will be seen and that you care. Keep it up and it may lead to comment conversations.

Always respond to reviews. Always. A thoughtful thank you and a comment about how you hope the client is comfortable in their new home isn't just the polite thing to do, search engines will also reward you for being engaging business owner. Do you have old reviews from years ago that you haven't responded to? It is never too late. Instead of a thank you, refer to the memories you have of the transaction and express your wishes that the reviewer continues to be well.

But what if the review is bad? It happens and yes, you should still respond. Ignoring it may make you look callous or uncaring, and when you don't respond to a bad review you are being unrepresented. Be authentic, acknowledge their concern, stick with the facts. Let them know you will connect with them directly to resolve your differences - and then follow through before they can respond further.

Closing Thoughts

I recommend agents review their profiles at least yearly, plus every time that you have a major update in your business. For example - you change brokerage offices, you hire an assistant or partner with another agent, or you earn a new designation.

It really does make a difference. I have seen many agents finally complete and update their profiles, then catch a new client or big listing as a result. People are checking you out online and you never know when that opportunity means a future paycheck. So, make sure you are putting your best foot forward and making a great first impression. These days, your profile may be the only chance you get to make one!

If you are struggling with getting your profiles in shape, contact our office (solutions@thelonesgroup.com or call 360-527-8904) and ask about a social media tune-up. Our professional staff can audit, update, and adjust your social media profiles for all of the above and much more so that you don't have to worry about it - giving you a much more effective online presence.

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By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.