Did you ever go online and Google your own name? You should—you might be amazed at what you’ll find. First of all, you may find nothing at all. This means you have virtually no online presence, and you need to take steps to do something about that. (See our article on using social media to sell homes.) Second, you may find other people with the same, or similar, names. But they are not you. So you need to implement a strategy to polish up your personal brand and give yourself some visibility. Third, you may find some incorrect, negative or unfavorable information. That’s were reputation management comes in. So what is that, exactly, and how should a Realtor do it?
- Get a dashboard
- Develop your personal brand
- Manage your visual image
- Limit your activity
Get a dashboard
The easiest way to figure out where your online persona stands right now is by grouping all your social media into one dashboard. Using a dashboard allows you to manage several social networks — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and more all in one place. With a couple clicks of your mouse, you can see everything everyone is saying (or not saying) about you. The most popular dashboards (HootSuite and TweetDeck are two) provide a tabbed layout, which helps you organize your social media by topic, type, network or whatever else you might wish.
Develop your personal brand
Before we had blogs and e-commerce sites with review and comment options for consumers, your brand awareness was much easier to control. In today’s social media environment, however, brand reputation management is crucial. As a realtor, you’re getting online word-of-mouth referrals, of course, but you may also be getting criticism, or even well-organized whispering campaigns that could have a significant effect on your reputation.
You need to be proactive about your own reputation management. Here are some key steps:
- Use your dashboard to constantly monitor questions, comments, or complaints.
- Reduce negative PR about your brand in every possible way, either by directly answering customer complaints, or by posting positive comments that contradict the negative.
- Manage search engine optimization (SEO) so that each search engine results page (SERP) highlights sites and pages that accentuate the positive about your brand.
- Solicit, nurture, and promote positive reviews about your brand.
Manage your visual image
From the personal portrait you put on your Facebook home page to your virtual tours on YouTube or your own website, appearance matters. Start with a professional head shot, and use the same one everywhere. That candid photo of you salsa dancing at the office Christmas party may say “I’m a lot of fun,” but it does not say “I’m a competent professional who can sell your home.”
When you post photos of your listings or virtual tours, of course you’ll portray your properties in the most flattering light possible. But know this: if you can post videos of your listings on YouTube, so can everyone else. So there’s nothing to stop some devious soul from posting shots of the trash pile in the back yard, or the cracks in the foundation. It has happened!
Limit your activity
When it comes to social media, less is often more. It is far better to have two or three robust social media platforms than a dozen bare bones outlets, just so you can say you have your name out there. There’s nothing more pitiful than a stale blog or a little blue bird that no longer tweets. You know your market best, of course, and you know how your clients communicate. Facebook, Twitter, and a quality blog are usually good options to start with. LinkedIn is great for professional networking, but may not be as effective with buyers and sellers. Pinterest, YouTube, Flickr, and a dozen others are great for posting visuals, but again, these need constant attention in order to effectively support your online image.
Careful social media monitoring and redirection when needed can have huge benefits for a Realtor’s personal brand management. Make certain you are following the right practices in order to build a good name for yourself while at the same time making sure that you aren’t unintentionally tarnishing your image. Small steps will pay big dividends.
Very nicely, and basically put. And all those pointers you can apply to big companies as well. One thing missing though; from the moment you get your dashboard sorted out, to the point where you’re monitoring, your eye should be on gaining Brandvocates, via the social media channels, and your happy clients. Testimonials are a wonderful thing, and to have these brandvocates actively involved with your online reputation is worth it’s weight in gold.
Richard M. Hartian says
Nelson, I’ve not heard of brandvocates. Do you work for them?
Brandvocates – brand advocates. It’s a term for those customers who were so impressed by product, and service, that they will attest to it. If they were confronted by negativity, or a problem, they would be likely to diffuse the situation a little, and let you know about the problem. Where as you might have not picked up on the problem, and a sour blemish would remain online forever on you brand. Having a group of people like that doesn’t happen from their love alone, so to actively keep them engaged becomes the challenge. There is always the quid pro quo though. But the cost of brandvocates comes more in the shape of say; sending a handy man to to a home you sold 6 months before, just to check for cracks, or faults…that would be the organic way to do it.