“The ‘real you’ and the ‘social media you’ should be the same person, or at least have more in common than a name,” said Trista Curzydlo, real estate educator.sm-860x300

“From a practical perspective, I think the biggest mistake I see are agents and brokers who jump in with both feet without doing any research on the culture of the social media site they’re using.   From a legal perspective, the biggest mistake I see right now is not being aware of the laws regarding intellectual property and how they apply to social media,” she added.

Curzydlo said one of the most important things Realtors® can do is read the terms of use (TOU) on a site. “In a real estate transaction, agents tell their clients to read the contract and get legal guidance if needed. The TOU for a social media site are a binding contract and you should read them,” she said. “It seems like every few years there’s this post that circulates throughout Facebook where users are declaring that they will not grant Facebook any license to their posts, pictures and intellectual property, the TOU addresses intellectual property and nothing you post will undo the contract you signed when you agreed to the TOU.”

But it’s not just your posts you need to worry about. What about sites where someone can review you?

If you receive a negative review on a site, Curzydlo suggests being positive in your response, and not attacking the client who left the response. She also recommends reaching out to other clients for reviews, hoping positive ones will help “dilute” the negative one.

She also pointed out there is protection to a degree from reviews that aren’t truthful. “There are some interesting defamation and libel lawsuits surrounding negative reviews that are working their way through the legal system,” she said.

Curzydlo cited one recent suit out of Staten Island resulted in a judgement of $1,000 when a consumer called the owner of a floor refinishing business a “liar” and a “con artist” in a review she wrote. While the award of $1,000 to the business is a victory, going through the process of litigation certainly brought a lot of attention, not all of it good, to the owner of the business and provided additional media coverage to the original negative review, she said.

“As an attorney, I always come back to the law and I think brokers and agents need to spend time looking at how regulators are treating social media and make sure that they have a current policies and procedures manual that addresses social media issues,” she added.