Written By: Elias Nathaniel

The Real Estate Guy

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Ten Commandments for Real Estate in Social Media


If you are active or intending to be active in social media, then follow these ten commandments and you shall rock.

  1. Thou shalt have a compelling personal and business profile
  2. Thou shalt choose your friends carefully
  3. Thou shalt not post boring content
  4. Thou shalt engage your friends actively
  5. Thou shalt avoid getting blocked or banned by others
  6. Thou shalt not be offensive or show strong opinions and emotions
  7. Thou shalt not promote yourself or others shamelessly
  8. Thou shalt use good spelling and grammar
  9. Thou shalt not use hashtags inappropriately
  10. Thou shalt not use automated services or clones

To have a better understanding of those commandments, I have expanded on them below.

1. Thou shalt have a compelling personal and business profile

Make sure you fill out in detail your personal profile, including your bio, about, tagline, introduction etc. Include a few key phrases you want to be associated to, without going overboard. Examples of key phrases are 'Phoenix homes for sale", "Buyers' agent in Miami, FL", "Atlanta, GA radon testing" and "FHA home loans, Nebraska". Be as specific as possible to avoid competition from general key phrases such as "mortgage broker" or "home for sale".

Add a memorable profile picture, so you can stand out and be remembered more easily. The profile picture and all photos related to you should be tagged with your name. Other people you want to be associated with in photos should be tagged as well. Last year I had a photo taken with Google's Matt Cutts and made sure to tag the photo with our names. Google's knowledge of my association with him can only be good, as it makes me more credible in it's eyes.

If you want people to reach you, include as may forms of communication as possible, including email, phone & text, fax, skype etc.

Include and/or connect your websites, blogs, Youtube channels, communities and other social media platforms with your profile.

2. Thou shalt choose your friends carefully

You don't have to bother with who follows you, as you cannot control that anyways. However, you are in control of who you follow. So choose your friends and business pages carefully. Make sure you follow those that are closely associated to your industry and your clients. Avoid falling into the trap of following people just because they followed you or following others indiscriminately for the purpose of expanding your follower group. Following a tightly focused group will minimize distraction, encourage engagement and sends out a signal of who you are. It works the same as in real life. Would you rather be seen with a petty criminal or the volunteer firefighter that just risked his life to save someone else?!!

3. Thou shalt not post boring content

Posting boring content that does not get a response from others is counterproductive. It's not only a waste of time, but also makes you look bad and damages your social image. Just imagine, in real life, you are out with a group of friends who look uninterested and bored with what you are saying. Before you know it, you are being ignored and your social status is suffering. Well, the same thing happens on social media, except that the audience is much bigger and you are being watched by the likes of Facebook and Google.

To grab attention and make your posts more interesting, you have to include images.  Images with people showing emotions, with colorful designs, of cute animals and of beautiful places, attract a lot of attention. An attractive image will get people to read your headline and your headline will get people to read and interact with your content.

Your headline should be attention grabbing too. Avoid ho-hum headlines that can make people yawn. For example instead of saying "Mortgage Rates are on the Rise", say "Are Rising Mortgage Rates Squeezing Out Homebuyers?" The first headline is just stating a fact, whereas the second is not only stating a fact but also eliciting an emotion and a response.

Don't overdo sharing friends' posts. You risk turning off your audience on one hand, and diluting the value of the re-shares, on the other. It is a turn-off when you visit a profile/page and find all the posts are re-shares of a few friends' content which you've already seen and interacted with elsewhere. When I see that, I assume that the re-shares were not based on value, but based on gaming the system. ...and guess what, I bet you anything that the social networks see that too. Don't be surprised if in the near future this type of activity starts to get penalized, just like reciprocal linking and in some cases guest blogging has.

4. Thou shalt engage your friends actively

Interact, interact, interact. Those words are the foundation of social media.

By interacting, you are wielding a lot of power that can be felt by others in social media and by the search engines too. So how does your interaction wield power? Simply put, it bestows credibility to and promotes the person and the post you are interacting with. Credibility is everything in our business. Just imagine a prospective homebuyer checking you out on social media and they come across a series of your posts that drew little or no interaction. On the other hand, imagine that same homebuyer seeing a whole bunch of your posts with all sorts of enthusiastic back and forth responses from others. In your opinion, which scenario will lead them to think that you are knowledgeable, respected and a credible professional?!! The answer is obvious and guess what? Social media networks and search engines use the same signals to evaluate you as a person, your business pages and your websites in their search rankings.

5. Thou shalt avoid getting blocked or banned by others

Getting blocked, muted or banned is the last ditch effort for a friend or a community to avoid you. Being persona non grata is a detriment to your online social presence. If your action has caused one person or one community to block or ban you, you are likely to have drawn the wrath of many others who have done the same. The signal here is likely to lower your overall rankings in social and search results, resulting in fewer followers and clicks.

Do not share posts directly with people you are not closely associated with!

6. Thou shalt not be offensive or show strong opinions and emotions

Using strong or offensive language is not conducive to social settings and should be avoided at all cost. Strong opinions and emotions are also damaging, as entrenched and illogical positions do not encourage social interaction.

7. Thou shalt not promote yourself or others shamelessly

To much self-promotion is a turn-off. The 10/90 rule is applicable here. No more than 10% of your posts should be about the services you offer. Any more than 10% and you risk annoying your social media friends and counter-act what you are intending to do. I would also stay away from any "in your face" self-promotions. How many times did you forego a purchase because of an aggressive salesperson's pitch?! The same dynamics are in play on social media.

8. Thou shalt use good spelling and grammar

Good spelling and proper grammar ensures that your content and comments are easily and properly understood. It also reflects on your credibility and professionalism. People generally steer away from poorly written content, in order to avoid being associated with it.

9. Thou shalt not use hash-tags inappropriately

Using too many hash-tags is considered spam by your audience and the social media networks. I stay away from any posts that contains long rows of  hash-tags. For the social media networks, adding many hashtags to a post is like "keyword stuffing" which used to get heavily penalized by the search engines.

Excepting Twitter, don't use hash-tags within the contents of your post. It is harder and more confusing to read content embedded with hash-tags. The best approach is to place hashtags at the end of your post's introduction.

10. Thou shalt use automated services or clones sparingly

Social networks and users of social networks generally dislike automated posts and responses. The same goes with clones that post and interact with others, pretending to be someone else. In my opinion, clones and automated services violate trust and genuine interaction.

In many instances, it is easy to spot a clone by the shallow or short comments. The conversation doesn't usually go anywhere and leaves the person replaced by the clone not looking very professional.

If you are interested to read more, the following is a list of links to my thoughts on related topics:

The Introduction To Your Google+ Real Estate Posts
Your Real Estate G+ Influence
Why Am I Not Getting Attention on G+?
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You
My Real Estate Posts Attract Little or No Attention
Advantages of Joining a Community on Google Plus