5 Ways Real Estate Agents Fail At Social Media

Apr 1, 2013   //   by Bill Gassett   //   Social Media  //  29 Comments

Using Social Media Properly

Real Estate Social Media LoserThe way we communicate on a daily basis has changed radically over the last ten years. In our ever changing world of communication, social media is what’s in vogue. Everywhere you turn you can’t escape it whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linkedin or one of the many others that are cropping up daily. Social media is a way of keeping in touch with the world around us just like reading the daily newspaper used to be. How many people actually sit down and read a newspaper cover to cover anymore? Probably not nearly as many as there were going back even five years ago. How we deliver news is no longer the same.

With new forms of communication, come new rules of the game. While social media is an information delivery mechanism, it is also a way of socializing as well. Those that are really good at social media will tell you being “social” is what matters most. Building relationships is a big part of what social media is about.

Real Estate Agent Social Media Fail

Realtor using Social MediaThere are countless industries that are really lacking when it comes to social media skills and Real Estate has to be right up there at the top. Having been a Massachusetts Realtor for the past twenty six years, I was immediately intrigued when social media started to catch on. This new way of being able to capture an audience fascinated me.

In fact I was one of the first Realtors in Massachusetts to have a Real Estate blog. Seeing some immediate success only enhanced my desire to use social media as it should be used. One of the best ways to do that was of course to emulate what other successful people were doing. By trial and error I could see that those that were having the most success followed some very simple rules of etiquette. They were not necessarily in the Real Estate industry but clearly had a grasp on making it work for them.

Some of the common denominators of success include thinking of social media as a way to form successful partnerships with others by providing information that could help them learn, laugh, think and possibly reciprocate. Those that do social media well are givers not takers. They do not look at social media as an advertising billboard. The it’s “all about me” mantra does not work well in social circles.

Real Estate agents unfortunately are some of the worst violators of many of these simple social media skills. There are many popular social media channels that Real Estate agents are using improperly. I am going to illustrate some of the more common social media blunders below and hopefully if you are a Realtor reading this you will adjust your thinking. It is also certainly possible you are not even in the Real Estate industry and have made the kind of mistakes illustrated below.

Facebook Social Media Fail

Facebook Social Media FailFacebook has to be one of the top social media sites for Real Estate agents making silly blunders. Social media failure here comes in what can best be described as SPAM! One of the more popular Facebook features is the ability to invite people to an event. This of course is terrific if there happens to be a local event that those who ARE LOCAL to the area will want to attend.

A good example of the proper use of a Facebook invite would be a band asking those in their local contacts to come check them out. Using Facebook in this manner is a big win for the band to get the word out and also great for those on the invite list who may enjoy good music.

A Facebook invite however is not for your entire list of Facebook friends! I can not even tell you how many times a week I get the most silliest invites from other Real Estate agents. Hey Bill please come to my pancake social next week in California. Sorry Jeff I am busy selling homes and will not be able to make it. While I am sure the pancakes will be delicious, I won’t be flying from coast to coast just to try them.

Kids birthday parties are another Facebook failure that agents just love. Hey Molly the Realtor I am sure your daughters birthday party at some Virginia bowling alley is going to be a blast but Bill the Realtor from Massachusetts won’t be able to make it. Seriously folks it doesn’t take that much longer to invite people who will want to attend your event. Do you know how absurd you look when you don’t think about your actions in social media?

Guess what happens after people get tired of constantly seeing your foolish invites? If you guessed people hit the blocked button it’s Bingo for you! The thing is you will never get a notification that you are blocked it just happens. Obviously this is not something you want!

Another thing that Realtors love doing on Facebook is boasting about how busy they are. It goes something like this “OMG I am so busy out showing homes for the third time this week blah blah blah.” A quick check of the agent boasting how busy they are reveals they have sold 5 homes all year and it is September. Please if you are going to talk about how wonderful you are doing, at least have the stats to back it up! Other people certainly will and show your competitors to boot.

Google Plus Social Media Failure

Google Plus RealtorGoogle plus is the newest social media site on the scene and rapidly becoming one of the most popular. One of the neat things about Google Plus is how you are able to create “circles” for those that you follow. A circle is just another name for a category or group of people. If you are a Real Estate agent you could have circles for a number of things including other Realtors, family and friends, people who share an interest and any number of other possibilities.

What is really neat about Google plus is that not only can you share something “public” which will put your post into anyone’s stream who happens to follow you but also directly to a circle as well. As an example let’s say I want to share a fantastic post about why Realtors should claim Google authorship. It would make sense if I had a group of Realtors I knew well and interacted with daily, they may want to see a helpful article like this. Google plus allows me to send this directly to them. Since those in my circle know me, it is not unusual for them to get notified of a post I have created. You could certainly call this an instant notification of content worthy of viewing.

One of the ways sharing posts directly with someone in Google Plus can be considered a no-no is when you do not know them. It is not appropriate for one Realtor to send another Realtor their latest and greatest “share” if they don’t know the person. Even worse is when a Realtor sends someone outside of the Real Estate industry a direct posting.

It is really a poor assumption to think everyone wants to read or look at what you have posted. There are tons of people who could care less about Real Estate and don’t want to see pictures of the home you just sold or what is happening in your town USA. So many Real Estate agents just don’t get this. This would be akin to a dentist sending a bunch of Realtors pictures of a cavity they just filled. Most dentists wouldn’t even dream of doing something so stupid. Realtors on the other hand, make mistakes like this all too often because they think of social media as one big advertising bulletin board.

Linkedin Social Media Failure

Linkedin Realtor MistakesOne of the terrific features of Linkedin is the groups that you can become a member of that regularly share great information within a certain niche. Real Estate being no exception. There are quite a few Real Estate groups where fantastic ideas for growing your business are shared. As a Realtor looking to gain a new method to grow your business or finding some cool new technology, some of these groups can be a great place to visit. This of course is the case until some agent comes along and drops a bunch of his or her listings into the site.

Groups on linkedin are NOT for Real Estate listings! Seriously why on earth do you think someone in Massachusetts or anywhere else for that matter would want to see your 3 bedroom Ranch in Oregon? THEY DON’T. A professional group where you discuss ways to improve your business is not an open invitation to SPAM your listing. This again goes back to the billboard mentality that many agents have engrained into their head.

Unless you are marketing a Hollywood superstars property or some other extravagant home owned by a famous millionaire nobody cares about your dam listing. Stop putting listings into a professional Real Estate group unless of course you want to continue looking unprofessional to everyone else!

Twitter Social Media Fail

Realtor Twitter FailuresTwitter is another place that some Realtors fail miserably at. The problem here is that Realtors far too often just drop in content and then don’t respond if someone has a question. The best example again is the Realtor who will drop one of their listings into the site via a tweet and then when they are lucky enough to get someone to respond it goes unnoticed.

The thing about social media is that you need to use these sites daily if you expect them to work as intended. There is no point in dropping a link into Twitter if you are not going to respond in a timely fashion or at all.

If sharing your listings on Twitter is what your focus is then I guarantee you have failed at this social media site. Twitter is for providing great content that others can use. It is not about YOU! Your focus on Twitter should be sharing valuable information that others can benefit from. The content doesn’t necessarily have to be your own either. Sharing other peoples articles on Twitter is what builds relationships and increases your following!

Share Button & SEO Social Media Fail

Social Media DumpReal Estate agents are notorious for using social media sharing tools that are embedded into their websites as plugins to send their content to various networks and then doing nothing else. Social media is about being social! It is NOT about personal promotion. Stop dumping your content and doing nothing else. Interaction and reciprocation is what makes social media work! All of the social media sites mentioned above are tools to build relationships with people. They are not link dumps! So many Realtors confuse the benefits of social media by thinking it is some kind of exercise in SEO.

In fact one of the more awkward things that you see from Realtors is posting their website address like this —> http://www.sellmyhomeinmetrowestma.com <—- as part of a signature in various social media sites when they make comments like there is some kind of magical SEO benefit for doing so. This is incredibly stupid and does nothing for you other than making you look like a buffoon.

Most Realtors know very little about SEO. This is illustrated very clearly when those in the industry add widgets from sites like Zillow and Trulia to their websites effectively helping those sites outrank agents for their own local keywords. For those that don’t understand what I am talking about here is an explanation of how Realtors help Zillow and Trulia gain better web position. SEO is actually a vital part of any Real Estate agents marketing arsenal. There is no doubt what so ever that having your website appear on the first page of Google for competitive Real Estate search phrases is going to help your business!

If you are a Real Estate agent reading this or anyone else in business for that matter, I hope some of what you have discovered here about social media to be an eye opener. Keep in mind that successful use of social media starts with engaging others. Provide great content of your own and share others content as well. Make sure you reciprocate and say thank you to those that help you become more visible. Do these things and you will see the long term benefit of business growth!

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Bill Gassett

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized Real Estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past twenty six plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX Realtors in New England for the past decade. in 2012 he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in all of New England. Connect with him on

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  • HAHA, i personally laughed at some of the FAIL, because i have actually seen what your talking about.

    • Leroy Cook says:

      Bill. Very true stuff about what many do wrong but as a newby, I would really love to see some guidance about the mechanisms one can use in the various social media sites to limit postings and comments to specific circles and groups. Social media sites re not intuitive and most of us who don’t want to be left out but aren’t under thirty find it difficult to wander around aimlessly to learn the territory. (What the various buttons and cute pictures cause to happen)

    • Nancy Jones says:

      I really had to laugh at the example of a dentist posting pictures of cavities he’s filled. That was a perfect example. I so often see Realtors posting a photo of a house they sold with the happy buyers in front. No one cares about that photo but that Realtor and the buyers. Send the photo to them. Then if they want they can share the photo of their new home with their friends.

      • James Daniel says:

        Nancy, you do have a point however, I think you are missing out on a great opportunity to passively spread your message and isn’t that what a FB business page is supposed to be about?

        Here’s an example: I recently sold a home to clients that won in a competing bid situation. I took a photo of the home, posted it on my business page with a little blurb congratulating them on getting the house. Then I “liked” it on my own page. The buyers then shared it on their page and many of their friends read the full post on my blog which was linked from FB.

        So now my name has spread to their friends who, like a lot of people, are curious, or nosy as someone said. And who knows? Perhaps those people will tell their friends and…well, you get the idea.

  • debbie rose says:

    Thanks Bill, you hit the nail on the head, especially with all the “invites” and blah blah about how busy they are and you look them up and haven’t done a darn thing or the “dabble” in our business, got to love that one!

  • Bill Gassett says:

    Thanks for having me Thomas! It was great to be able to write this social media article. There are a number of folks in my industry that could use the help!

    Debbie – no doubt about it. Telling the world how busy you are comes across very foolishly if you are not actually backing it up with sales.

  • Carra RIley says:


    Fantastic post on what NOT to do in social media! So helpful and I will be sharing around the venues! I would have loved to see a cow pie for the social media dump…. tee hee! Thanks for getting right to the point.

  • Lee Keadle says:

    What a simple concept that social media is supposed to be social. I’ve never thought about it in exactly those words before, but it absolutely conveys the understanding that social media is not a one-way shouting match of links, etc. but rather a social conversation that gives as much as it takes with the other people involved. This is great advice coming from a real estate agent who certainly knows how to properly use social media!

  • Ronda says:

    Gosh Bill. You nailed it AGAIN!! I am afraid I may have broken a rule or two along the way. It’s great folks like you that help the rest of us find our way. Thanks for another great post.

  • Sean YOun says:

    Great article Bill. I know I have personally been guilty of some of this in the past. Your next article should be 5 Ways Real Estate Agents can win with Social Media. Like always, you provide some great information. I’m looking forward to the next one.

  • Jacob says:

    I think point “.Twitter Social Media Fail” is a perfect summary of why most businesses (realtors or otherwise) fail at Twitter.Some people don’t get Twitter, and that’s fine – but using it like a free advertising channel is simply a waste of time.

  • Bill Gassett says:

    Rhonda – there are not too many that haven’t broken a rule or two along the way including myself. The best part of social media besides building relationships is learning along the way!

    Sean – Thanks very much for the compliments.

    Jacob – It really does amaze me how some people think twitter offers some magical power for them by just dropping links to advertise. Not so fast:)

  • Time is short, people are busy. How is the presentation, the real estate nuts and bolts you and I have the honor, opportunity to orchestrate going to be of any use to anyone else in the audience. Means seeing the audience, putting yourself in the moccasins of all those out there that are talked back and forth to for connection. Not read to and over their heads. Less agent, broker ego, more good stuff someone can use is what wearing the “R”, being in the service industry is all about. That is a hard concept for some that just want career advancement and attention but don’t realize their roles in that partnership with buyers and sellers.

  • Andrew Coppo says:

    Well written article, Bill. This is a great read for any real estate professional who uses social media. It is certainly hard to keep up with all of the different platforms but you succinctly summarize how to successfully use them all by pointing out that “engagement” is the key to social media success.

  • Bill Gassett says:

    WOW a couple of very fine Andrews making comments at the same time. I appreciate you guys. You are both spot on about more engagement and less selling.

  • chuck says:

    People are really nosey also, just putting pictures of their neighbors houses is interesting enough. I’d also put in people’s addresses, probably up and down the street, so when people are searching for their own home they could see the work I did in the neighborhood. Little steps that could make big returns far out in the future.

  • Great article shared..
    Social media is the best way to promote the business but in a quality manner.

  • Success for me is being a tenth as good as Andrew Mooers. 🙂

  • Donna Bigda says:

    Bill….you hit it out of the park with this post on the most effective ways to make the most out of using social media and have shared it on other social media platforms to help get the word out.

  • Frank Dolski says:

    Very good information of what not to do on social media sites. My greatest comment would be that the majority of Realtors do not use social media, blogging and the many tools out their to better grow their business. I regularly use Linked-In, Twitter, Facebook, Word press, Trulia, and so much more. I would personally like to see more realtors use the Trulia to blog and ask answer questions. Good post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hi Bill,

    Thank you for helping steer my social media IQ in the right direction. As a new agent, and with so much to take in the first year ….really connecting and being social the right way is a great start!

  • Hi Bill,
    Curious as to how you feel about “dual identities”, having a personal page and a business page on Facebook.

  • Bill Gassett says:

    Thanks everyone for all your comments. I am glad you got something out of the article.

    George – I think it is a good idea to have both a personal and a business page. For one thing Facebook TOS do not allow for business postings on personal pages. Believe or not there are some who were posting nothing but business stuff getting their pages removed.

    Aside from that it is good to have a business page so you can share things on that you wouldn’t necessarily share on a profile page and vice versa.

  • Jon Zolsky says:

    Bill – exceptional article, and I am not surprised people love it. I left a comment (2, actually) on your AR post, but it is not against you at all. It is against this simple black and white approach where it is one way only, and whoever is not on board they are idiots.

  • Bill Gassett says:

    Hi Jon – there is nothing in the article that says you should use social media as your only way of doing business. What it says is that if you are going to do social media at least try to do it well. There are many ways to skin a cat – I certainly realize that. If you are going to delve into social media though at least use some common sense.

  • Karen Highland says:

    Very good points, Bill, I’ve been annoyed by all of these things! I think the worst thing I’ve seen lately is an agent whining and bitching about their client on Facebook! I couldn’t believe someone actually thought that was not stupid, but somehow “transparent”. But the worst thing was the 17 agent friends from her brokerage who commented, agreeing and offering their supportive bitching to the mix! Using your example, it would be akin to the dentist complaining about their patient’s bad breath. Unbelievable!

    So I have a question… Would you private message an agent and suggest it was not cool? Or would you leave it alone?

    • Bill Gassett says:

      Hi Karen – I have gotten so annoyed with real estate agents sending me silly stuff on Facebook that I now just send them this article. It is almost like I am spamming them back:) Feel free to copy and paste this article onto their page every time a Realtor on Facebook annoys you LOL!

  • Karen says:

    I will take you up on that offer!

  • Drew says:

    Hi Bill, your definitely right and you nailed it. Social Media are for socializing and not for promoting. That is why it is called “social” and not “PROMOTIONAL”. lol

    Nice article, More power to you.