A REALTOR® Is Only As Good As Their Online Reputation
In any service oriented industry one’s reputation and image are vital, but in real estate where every transaction is one of the biggest decisions in a person’s life, it is paramount. In the old days it was easier to build, maintain and monitor one’s reputation because it typically existed within your circle of influence and local market.
Those were the good old days. Now the Internet has allowed us to expand our reach to a global audience and all of our communications have gone digital (e-mail, voicemail, text message, social media, forums, etc.). This means they are permanent, and especially with the rise of social media, easily distributable. So if you make one little mistake or have one irrational client who wants to defame you, it can hurt all of the good will you have built up over the years and potentially ruin your business.
Now there are so many social media & customer review sites, chat rooms, forums, etc. that your customers and prospective customers could be talking about you on. So how do you focus on your “job” as a REALTOR® and yet somehow keep up with all of this? Lucky for you, here are some great tips & tools available to help you manage your online reputation:
- Always think before you hit Send or Submit as you can’t take it back. Also, always try to use proper online & offline etiquette & avoid negative situations (disagreements, petty or trivial activities, etc.) that can be used against you.
- Google YOURSELF, and see what shows up and know what you are up against; you know your prospective clients will.
- Set up Google Alerts – enter any keyword or phrase and receive an e-mail newsletter of links to web pages or articles anytime those words are mentioned online
- Monitor the mentions & direct messages on social media sites (or use aggregation tools like com to consolidate this effort)
- Create a defined presence for yourself online. Everything you have online (your website, blog, social media profiles, etc. should be similarly named (com) and linked to each other (AddThis.com). This gives the consumer (as well as the search engines like Google) a clear picture of who you are online. If you want to take it a step further for Google, create an account at Klout.com that will also track your online activity. If you are going to choose one social media site to create a profile on, make it LinkedIn as it is typically the first thing that shows up when someone searches for your name.
- Check how you are faring on customer review sites like Yelp, Zillow, com and HomeAdvisor.com. When it comes to Yelp, you may also want to check out the list of affiliate vendors (plumbers, electricians, etc.) you typically recommend to your clients to make sure they make you look good because if a client has a negative experience with one of your referrals it can negatively reflect on you.
- While it impossible to rule out being implicated in a listing related scam (most commonly on CraigsList), you can monitor your listings’ online activity by creating a listing activity report at com or Google Alerts (detailed above)
- Consider enlisting a product like com or Brand.com to help you in all aspects of reputation management (similar to credit monitoring services) including assistance in removing unwanted information (slanderous posts, bad reviews, legal records, etc.) off the internet
If you are a company owner or broker, you might want to seriously consider creating a Company Usage Policy. This is a contract (that you can easily create at http://socialmedia.policytool.net/) that defines a set of guidelines/rules of what your employees are allowed to do and allows you to legally monitor their online activity. This has become a necessity in the real estate industry due to the fact that the internet has made it so easy to slip up. For example, if one of your agents commits a fair housing violation, the broker and company would not only have to deal with the negative repercussions with their client base, but are also held legally liable for their agents’ actions. So, if you are looking for a tool that will effortlessly allow you to track your team’s online activity, check out www.ExactTarget.com.
Hopefully these tips and tools will help keep you safer and your reputation intact so that the next time your future clients Google you, they will hire you because they find nothing but good things!