Ask Kathy: Social Media for Professionals

Blogs and social networking sites are often used by real estate professionals to market property and communicate with clients, prospective clients and the public in general — tip of the day: “be careful out there!”

The nature of social media sites tends to be informal, light and conversational. However, it is important to remember that whether you are using blogs or other social media networking sites for personal or business purposes, as a professional you are responsible for the content of any entry / post you create or share.

The content you publish reflects on you as an individual, as a REALTOR® and, in turn, on the Company with which you are affiliated.

While you certainly maintain control of your personal and professional posts, it is important to keep in mind that all messaging should be thoughtfully considered in the same manner and with the same careful consideration you would employ for any other communication. To the extent that these entries / posts relate to the business practices of you and/or the Company, they are subject to all of the regulations, ethical standards and other rules that govern your behavior as a REALTOR®.

These governing authorities include, but are not limited to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics, Federal and State Fair Housing Laws, Multiple Listing Service Rules, Defamation Laws and the Bureau / Department of Real Estate Rules and Regulations.

A Few Best Practices for Your Consideration:

1. Use your highest standards when messaging via blogs, Facebook,
LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media site. Treat these
mediums just as you would in any other vehicle you are using to
communicate with the public. While the style may certainly be informal,
standards and professionalism should not vary.
2. Social media, by its nature, encourages an informal style but remember
even in the “ether-sphere,” you are bound by laws, regulations as well as
the Code of Ethics. Do not deviate from what you know to be sound
business and best practices.
3. Never advertise another agent’s listing on your personal webpage or
social media without the written consent of the listing broker; because
such decisions are appropriately made by the broker, not individual
agents. Some websites, blogs and on-line ads imply that the agent
providing the information is the listing agent, this practice could lead to an
ethics complaint or MLS rules violation.
4. Routinely review your social media sites to make sure that the
information is accurate and up-to-date.
5. Regularly monitor your online presence, delete any inaccurate,
derogatory, vulgar, offensive or obscene postings made by others in the
event visitors are allowed to post or reply to messages on your site.
6. Do not engage in gossip or pass along unverified information.
7. “When in doubt — leave it out.” Better not to publish an item than
regret it later.
8. Before posting an entry, ask yourself this simple question: “Would I like
to see this entry being viewed, life size, on a courtroom wall?” If not, don’t
post it.
9. Consider maintaining separate social media sites for personal and
business use; but remember your clients and other agents are watching
10. Final comment, just use common sense — think about the image you
wish to project and, as always; “be careful out there!”

Questions? Email them to:

The foregoing is not to be construed as legal advice. It is for the purposes of real estate brokerage education only.

Kathy Mehringer
Regional Director of Risk Management & Education
Broker Associate
CalBRE # 00625769
9560 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90212