Proactive use of social media platforms is a significant part of marketing for estate agents. However, effective use of social media to promote your estate business comes with challenges. A big one is staying on the right side of the law. In this article, we look at the potential legal pitfalls of social media and how to make sure you remain legally compliant.
How does social media help estate agents?
Effective use of social media platforms is great to build and maintain brand loyalty. The immediate impact of social media posts can be beneficial. Similarly, careless, unstructured use of social media can do damage to your estate agent’s brand reputation. Be sure to develop a carefully planned, targeted strategy. Then stick with it.
Social media legal issues for estate agents
Be aware of legal concerns that go hand-in-hand with social media activity. Set up a clear social media policy to combat any issues. The key areas of legal concern are potential liability…
- via breaches of private information.
- related to hacking attacks against your site users or ‘followers’
- that may arise from data leakage of third-party confidential data
Your estate agency website and social tools
Social media tools can integrate easily with your website. They might allow you to gather information about your website visitors so you can better engage and build relationships. However, this is where the legal implications come into play. For example, these tools may ask for users’ personal details. In these cases, you must, by law, clarify your policies. Make it absolutely clear what you are and are not responsible for.
Your website should show…
- a disclaimer – set the limits of your legal liability
- your terms and conditions – explain to users know what they can expect from the site
Do you have blog posts on your website? Do you invite comments on these blogs? It’s a great idea, but be sure to use text and image filtering or a comment ‘moderating’ process. Then you’ll reduce the chances of inappropriate or offensive material.
Comply with online advertising standards
Do you include sponsored posts or advertising on your social media platforms? Or do you also use “influencers” to endorse your estate agency services? If so, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) have jurisdiction. In fact, whatever statements you make on social media, whether paid for or not, must still follow the law.
Steps you need to take to help you to stay legally compliant
- Assess the specific legal risks that apply to your estate agency
- Get familiar with how the different social media platforms work. Know how they deal with personal information. Read their Terms and Conditions.
- Is the personal use of social media sites permitted using your company computers or mobile devices?
- Does your social media policy make it clear who in your company is allowed to make social media posts on the company’s behalf?
- Establish an internet or social media policy that clarifies the nature of legitimate posts. Include details like your agreed tone of voice. Do you have compliance and quality control procedures in place to ensure team members follow these policies?
- Are you absolutely sure your social media posts are legally compliant? If not, then take them down. Are any of your posts defamatory, obscene, discriminatory, or likely to be break confidentiality or constitute harassment? Do they contravene data protection laws or IP rights?
- Be sure that none of your business’s social media usernames infringes another business’s IP rights.
- When a staff member leaves your estate agency or moves away from their social media responsibilities, take care to change logins and passwords
- Are your employees familiar with your social media policies? Use your employee handbook and disciplinary procedures to establish clear guidelines for them.
- Are your employees also aware of your policies regarding any social media posts they might make about your estate agency, your customers, or your competitors on their personal accounts?
- If you are unsure of how to stay legally compliant, or simply don’t have the time to research, then delegate your work to an Agency. Agencies that provide marketing services are experienced in managing social media and adhering to rules and regulations.
Other social media policies for your Estate Agency
- Have a strategy for responding to negative customer posts. One rogue negative post can cause damage to your brand reputation almost overnight. Respond quickly, positively, honestly, and politely.
- Do you believe a competitor, former staff member, or customer has made libelous or illegal posts on social media? Get legal advice immediately.
Social media –a vital tool for every Estate Agent business
Social media provides opportunities for estate agents to grow their customer bases and develop their brand reputation. But there are risks too. Social media management is a highly responsible role. It isn’t simply about posting engaging and informative content. You must also develop, maintain, and communicate your social media strategy. Not to mention, also monitor, listen, and respond to users across social media platforms. Keep abreast of ever-involving social media law. A social media manager needs not only to promote your estate agent business but protect it too.