The “Dos” and “Don'ts” of building your online real estate brand

Real Estate Technology with SmartZip

From Facebook, Twitter and Yelp to hosting fees and domain decisions, building an online brand is a daunting task. Before you dive into the hot new channel with low ROI or begin paying for a website you don’t have time to maintain, take a few steps back.


Below are our top “Dos” and “Don’ts” for real estate agents hoping to build a robust online brand.


DO: Start from scratch to thoughtfully develop your brand’s value proposition

Before you decide on which channels you’ll go “all in” on, or which headshot you’ll use, it’s important to consider the big picture of your brand and the value you offer your clients. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I an agent?

  • Why do my clients like to do business with me?

  • What kinds of clients do I prefer to work with? (Go beyond “buyers” and “sellers” to consider personality, location, timelines and more)

  • What unique talents do I bring to the table?

  • What’s one thing I would NEVER do, even if it would get me ahead?


By jotting down your natural aptitude, aspirations and limits, you can begin to craft overarching goals for your business. From there, you can begin choosing the online tactics and channels that would work best, given your niche and preferences.


DON’T: Try to be all things to all people

Sometimes, when we help agents create a custom ad campaign, we see that they are worried about focusing on one specific group of people (sellers, for example) and leaving out another group of potential clients (like first-time buyers).


The result is an ad that tries to be everything to everyone — but ends up being nothing to anyone.


As you develop your value proposition, be sure to focus time and energy (and websites, ad campaigns and messaging) on your primary client base. If you want to show that you’re open to other types of clients, create focused landing pages (or marketing pieces) that you can send when these secondary clients approach you.


DO: Stay consistent

Before you set up any new websites, landing pages or social media accounts, gather the basic assets and copy you’ll need to develop a consistent online persona:

  • A current, high-res photo of you (Put your 1998 headshot to rest!!)

  • An approved broker or franchise logo

  • An approved logo of your brand (whether agent, team or group)

  • A “handle” to use across social media accounts. Examples:

    • @bigapplerealestate

    • @JaneAgent

    • @MoveToSycamoreHeights

  • A short bio (under 140 characters)

  • A medium bio (between 500-700 characters)

  • A long bio (2-3 paragraphs)

  • A primary phone number (mobile) and back-up (office)

  • A private, secure email address


Then, whether you’re setting up a Twitter account, a new squeeze page technology or online ads, be sure to use your pre-approved and pre-written assets and copy from the above list. That way, if anyone should “Google” you, they’ll be able to recognize you and your brand immediately.


DON’T: Rely on your broker or franchise to build your brand for you

It’s not a problem to take advantage of the tech tools that your broker or franchise offers you. In fact, you should be sure you use these features to their full ability (as you are paying for them within your commissions).


However, you don’t want your online persona to be 100% tied to your franchise or broker. Be sure to build a few online destinations that you “own” outright. That way, if you ever leave your office to join a competing broker or franchise, you can still leverage your robust website, Twitter handle, Facebook presence as you make the transition.  


DO: Pay attention to online reviews and respond to the negative ones

Whether you set up Google Alerts or check out Yelp and other national review sites regularly, it’s smart to keep up on what past and current clients are saying about you. And it’s okay to feel a sting when you see a 3-star review come in, tainting your perfect 5-star rating.


When you get a bad review, take a few hours to allow yourself to get over any anger or disappointment you feel. Consider the client’s testimonial and experience and ask yourself if they:

  • Have the right to feel angry in general

  • Have the right to feel angry at you

  • Are honestly portraying the situation


Then, respond thoughtfully to the complaint. Be sure to take full responsibility for anything that you may have done wrong and explain how you will prevent this from happening to future clients. If the client is being outright disingenuous about what went down, it’s okay to quickly clarify where they have misstated or misinterpreted the situation.


DON’T: Dwell on negative reviews and don’t point fingers

Repeat after me: You don’t need to have the last word on a negative review. If you’re feeling personally attacked or misrepresented, it can be easy to keep responding to ongoing commentary. And it’s easy to start pointing fingers at the poster, reminding them of what they did wrong throughout the transaction.


But the reality is, when someone leaves a negative review, they didn’t do so on a whim. They spent time and energy on it. You’re unlikely to change their mind about what happened and you’re unlikely to receive any future referrals from them.


Instead, it’s time to focus on any new potential clients who are visiting the review site and may be swayed by the review.


So, take the high road. Post one response explaining your side, and only respond a second time if you are able to stay calm and say something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way and again, I did do my best to keep the transaction moving forward on time. I have taken precautions to ensure that future clients will not experience a similar misunderstanding. I wish you all the best and hope you are happy in your new home.”


Then. Walk. Away.


DO: Focus on the channels that you’re naturally attracted to

Can’t get enough of Pinterest or Instagram in your everyday life? Great! You’re more likely to enjoy prospecting or brand-building if it’s on a channel that you naturally gravitate to.


Over time, you’ll want to measure the ROI of these “passion” efforts, but in the beginning, just explore, create a community and have fun.


DON’T: Force yourself to buy into every new tech craze

You’ve likely heard of Shiny Object Syndrome and you may know that solopreneurs and small business owners like agents are especially susceptible to it.


Don’t force yourself to master the newest technology every time.


And no, don’t fire up Snapchat just because your nephew said his 24-year old real estate agent friend just won a deal on there. (Remember, that deal was likely hard-won after dozens — or hundreds — of highly filtered selfies and up-to-the-minute updates. It didn’t materialize out of thin air.)

Not every technology can be your sweet spot and it’s okay to steer clear of those you don’t have time for, or that don’t naturally appeal to you.


Remember, just last year, we were all talking about how Pokemon: Go was going to be a game changer for the modern agent. When was the last time you spotted a hoard of Poke-hunters at your local park? Or a Poke-stop listed as a perk of an open house?


The ultimate “DO”: Focusing your sights on sellers who are ready to list this year

As low inventory continues to plague our market, you may be ready to focus your online efforts on a smaller, targeted group of homeowners who are ready to sell now.


See how SmartTargeting can predict local sellers, then help you win their business via targeted online ads and strategic, low-maintenance follow-up. Check it out here.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ginger Harper 06/28/2017 05:22 AM
  2. Ron Barnes 07/04/2017 06:38 AM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
realtor marketing
online image
brand building
review management
handling reviews

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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

We meet the "smart" behind smartzip.....

Jun 28, 2017 06:32 AM #15
Luke Acree
ReminderMedia - King of Prussia, PA
Making Agents Memorable

Wow. This post is filled with a ton of wisdom. Often we feel a wave of motivation and we sign up for every social media channel under the sun, build a new website, and start re-branding, only to have it all fall by the wayside. Only brand across channels you can consistently maintain!

Jun 28, 2017 06:59 AM #16
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

thanks for  the excellent post. many solid points to implement

Jun 28, 2017 07:25 AM #17
Rochelle Kretchmar
GenEquity Mortgage - Lewisville, TX
Simply Irresistible Staging

Wow - really great post!  Lots of good advise for branding, love the information on how to handle negative reviews.  I will be refrencing this quite a bit as we focus on branding this year.

Jun 28, 2017 09:48 AM #18
Mike Bjork
American Pacific Mortgage - Redondo Beach, CA

Great advice, and very well thought out.  Appreciate it!

Jun 28, 2017 09:51 AM #19
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

This is a GREAT directive on getting anyone moving to more sales. Whether you are redesigning your niche or your entire business, you've created a lot of good ideas. 

Jun 28, 2017 11:06 AM #20
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

 Focus on the channels that you’re naturally attracted to ... I like that you include that tip, SmartZip Analytics ... you'll stick with your marketing/social media plan much better and longer if you actually LIKE what you're doing ...

Great tips!


Jun 28, 2017 11:18 AM #21
Jeff Dowler
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Thanks for such a terrific resource - there are some really useful, and important, suggestions here. Bookmarked for reading again and taking some action.


Jun 28, 2017 12:59 PM #22
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

Wish I'd had this in-depth blueprint when I started building my brand some years ago. Some of these dos and dont's I've learned by painful trial and error. However, I will  use this info to polish up my image this year. Thanks a bunch.

Jun 28, 2017 01:40 PM #23
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

This was a long post. But there was so much good information and tips that I just had to keep reading.  You're so right about the whole Pokemon craze. I had forgotten all about it until I read your post.   Tagged the post and definately going to go back to it. Thanks so much !!

Jun 28, 2017 02:01 PM #24
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

I like the 2 lists, Do's and Don'ts.

This is great information that we should pay close attention to.

I do agree that if you are going to use a "headshot" it should be current.

My latest marketing materials do not have a headshot and I am getting more referrals than ever before. ?

Jun 28, 2017 06:00 PM #25
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Oh, yeah. If I do not anticipate doing something 24-48 times in a row happily, no need to get going.

Jun 28, 2017 08:59 PM #26
Ron Buck
The Ron Buck Group - Laguna Niguel, CA
Associate RE Broker at Keller Williams Realty

Very complete list. The hardest for me is NOT trying to be all things to all people.

Jun 28, 2017 10:31 PM #27
Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service

Very informative, bookmarked for sure! Concentrate on all the DO, avoid all the DONT'S, so easy to say, so hard to do.

Jul 01, 2017 03:24 AM #28
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Listings are king. To get them, results, hard work and creativity make the brand that attracts them. Good points.

Jul 04, 2017 03:35 AM #29
Ron Barnes
Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties - Jasper, GA
"Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1!

Been working on making me over again. Years can make "your" brand obsolete or irrelevant, especially to younger clientele. 

Jul 04, 2017 06:36 AM #30
Wayne L. Brown
Franklin Advantage Inc. - Alpine, CA

Awesome post.  Thanks for the insight.

Jul 04, 2017 08:23 AM #31
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Many great points made! This is  a resource to refer back to for sure. Thanks for sharing.


Jul 04, 2017 08:38 AM #32
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Great advice and guidance, Smartzip. I've seen a lot of colleagues go down the shiny new toy route with disastrous and expensive results. 

Jul 04, 2017 10:16 AM #33

Good advice.

Jul 05, 2017 12:40 AM #34
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