How to use Facebook effectively and professionally

Facebook as a marketing and outreach tool can be powerful for REALTORS® and real estate agents. Maintaining a clear distinction between your professional and personal use of Facebook is however very important, but it can be quite the challenge. Here are some tips on how to keep your Facebook use under control and totally professional.

Understand Facebook privacy

Facebook has as many different privacy settings as there are kinds of apples. To name a few, you can decide whether the profile attached to your name shows up under search results, whether your pictures can be seen by friends only, and whether your posts are public.

Even with high privacy settings, professionals should consider anything they post on Facebook as something that could go public. To avoid that reality, sometimes people have separate and anonymous email addresses, from which they create a Facebook profile using a fake name. This is not recommended, and it’s against Facebook’s community use policies.

Create a clean online footprint

The quickest and easiest way to keep your online social media footprint clean is to – you guessed it – keep it clean. Before you post anything, consider how you’d respond to being questioned about it and if you’d be OK with your clients or family stumbling across it.

That said, using Facebook for personal connections and interacting with friends is normal and acceptable. Many professionals limit their professional networking to LinkedIn, and don’t add clients or colleagues as friends on Facebook. Instead, they set high privacy settings for their personal profile and create a public Facebook page.

Set up a Facebook page

For professionals who want a public presence on Facebook, consider setting up a professional page. Almost like a mini-website, it’s hosted by Facebook. Generally speaking, Facebook pages are easy to create, but require a few pictures (one for the main profile picture and one as the background) and a short description of who you are and what you do. After a page is set up, it’s administered and accessed through your personal Facebook account.

Maintain efficient page use

There are several ways to approach a Facebook page. Hootsuite’s advice on how small businesses should approach their Facebook pages is straightforward and applicable to REALTORS® and real estate agents. Hootsuite says that genuine engagement with fans and clients is extremely important: “Facebook is all about authenticity, so if a business does not focus on customers in a way that feels genuine and just focuses on itself, the community will see right through it…. [Make] your content relevant to what goes on in the lives of your customers. This keeps you in the ‘real-world’ and not isolated in a space of cutting-edge competition.”

That advice is echoed by others. According to Kristine Wirth of Practical Ecommerce, 80 per cent of your online content should focus on your customer, and a mere 20 per cent should focus on you and your business. “Using this formula will encourage more engagement and interaction,” writes Wirth.

Make a long-term commitment

Social media is not a “set it and forget it” marketing tool. It’s a long-term commitment that can also become a time suck if you’re not careful. Figure out how much time you’re willing to put into Facebook each week and consider using a post scheduler such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Make sure you also dedicate an additional 10 minutes per day to check in on your page so you can reply to messages and engage with commenters.

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