Five Ways to Manage Your Reputation Online

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Zillow

Every day, millions of people are communicating online through blogs, social networks and news outlets. All it takes is one negative blog post, forum message or online comment and your hard-earned reputation could be damaged. As a real estate professional using the Internet to grow your business and market yourself to a network of future buyers and sellers, you need to think strategically about what you do and don’t say online.

Here are five tips I’ve gleaned from my social marketing experience at Zillow.com that will help you manage your reputation and communicate your expertise online.

1. Don’t abuse the anonymity of the Internet. If you wouldn’t say it in real life, don’t say it online, even anonymously. This is the golden rule of online relationship maintenance. Before diving head-first into an argument, set some boundaries for yourself and pick your battles wisely. You have a professional reputation to protect - consumers don’t.

2. Acknowledge your (perceived) bias. When entering into a new conversation, introduce yourself and proactively declare your bias. I usually start with “Hi, it’s Spencer from Zillow.com.” This will establish an air of transparency and build credibility around your comments. If you're an agent, consumers will immediately assume you're overly optimistic about real estate values and are always going to promote a transaction (since your compensation is commission-driven). Rather than try to dissuade someone from having that opinion of your motives, it's better to acknowledge it up front. Also, when relevant, also link to your professional profile on Zillow, LinkedIn, etc.

3. Correct your mistakes publicly and quickly. If you’ve made a mistake, seek out opportunities to say, “I was wrong,” and explain how you’ve corrected your error. Always respect your fellow bloggers-even when they have opposing viewpoints-and be mindful of the fact that every individual has a right to their own opinion.

4. Long live the soft sell. Online community boards and advice forums like Zillow Advice are not designed as a place to spam your virtual business card and run. Instead, take the time to authentically engage your audience with the “soft sell” approach to answering their questions. Leave comments that display your experience, suggest useful resources and reinforce your position as an industry expert.

5. Read (much) more than you write. Reply to more posts than you originate. Listen to what others are saying about you and your product. For every post you write, you should read 10 others. Your posts and comments will be much more effective if you first listen and then respond to what others are saying before you try to start conversations. Keeping your digital footprint clean takes some effort, but it’s a highly effective, low-cost way to build your personal brand and expand your online presence to connect with future clients.

Remember, being active online is a great way to grow your business, but it's also a lot of fun. Consumers can tell whether you're enjoying yourself or if you're just trying to work a transaction. So be yourself, have fun, and I'll see you around the RE.net.

 

[Note: I wrote a similar article to this one for RIS Media on June 17, 2009, "5 Ways to Better Manage Your Reputation in Online Forums".]

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Rainer
65,610
Marcy Eastham
Town & Country Realty Corvallis Oregon - Corvallis, OR

Reputation management is so important and too many people just don't think about it.  You are your brand.  If you aren't proactively managing your reputation, defending your reputation, and monitoring your reputation you are at risk.  Warren Buffet once said "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to destroy it."  Don't let it happen to you.

 

Jun 19, 2009 03:30 AM #52
Rainer
74,425
Dan Magstadt
Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inc - Lake City, FL

Good points Spencer - I think it's extremely important for potential clients you interact with to hear from you as an adviser (the soft sell) vs someone trying to cram your agenda down their throat.

Jun 19, 2009 03:30 AM #53
Rainer
340,963
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI

#6:  Don't assume "members only" or "private" can't be seen by the consumer.  They can, and they do see.

Jun 19, 2009 03:43 AM #54
Rainmaker
108,176
Tammy Vertrees
Warburton Properties - Murrieta, CA
Real Estate Consultant

Reputation is #1.  Thanks for the reminder!

Jun 19, 2009 03:49 AM #55
Anonymous
maya garg

Hi Chad

I always love your tips.  Great tip.  We are in the public eye all the time.

Keep them coming

Thanks

Jun 19, 2009 04:19 AM #56
Anonymous
maya garg

sorry for putting wrong name

 

Spencer -

I apologize for wrong name

Maya Garg

Jun 19, 2009 04:21 AM #57
Rainmaker
525,308
Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Spencer, these are some great tips, thanks for sharing your experience.  Part of the problem is that other bloggers can be mean and nasty and try to ruin our online reputation.  That's what I addressed in my blog:  http://activerain.com/blogsview/1115375/got-a-problem-resolve-it-in-a-professional-manner and unfortunately some AR members should re-think before they post rude blogs/comments.

Jun 19, 2009 04:57 AM #58
Rainer
34,774
Kenneth Young
Uni International LLC - Virginia Beach, VA

Good Advice.   #5 is excellent, I know that I have to spend at least two hours a day reading on topics that I deal with at work just to keep up.   How else can I have a decent discussion/conversation without being informed and up-to-date?

Jun 19, 2009 05:00 AM #59
Rainer
26,044
Bonnie Vest
"Go with Long & Foster's BEST, ask for Will or Bonnie VEST!" - Deltaville, VA
Your Deltaville and Northern Neck Realtor

Hi Spencer;  thanks for the reminder.  Living is a very small town, I can appreciate your comment "if you wouldn't say it in public, don't say it online".  It doesn't take much to loose your good reputation very quickly if you are not careful.  Thanks for sharing.

Jun 19, 2009 05:50 AM #60
Anonymous
Erick Blackwelder - Woodbridge Virginia

Amen brother.

Most of the folks on Active Rain are pro's who already know what you said.

As a venerable and respected sports coach once said: "Pro's don't need to be told what to do, but they do need to be reminded."

Thanks for the reminder.

Jun 19, 2009 06:00 AM #61
Rainer
108,048
Karl Peidl
Moorestown, NJ
Accredited Loan Consultant

Thanks for the tips.  I love the term "digital footprints". 

Jun 19, 2009 06:06 AM #62
Anonymous
Tamara Dorris

Spencer,

 

I especially like #5.  I like it because it is advice that I need to follow myself--- Sometimes we can get on a writing roll and forget that our comments and our support and our feedback are every bit as important as our own moment in the spotlight.

Thank you for this great reminder!

Gotta go do some more responding!

Tamara

Jun 19, 2009 08:17 AM #63
Rainer
118,327
Ginger Moore
Wilkinson & Associates Realty - Gastonia, NC

Great blog!   Yes we all need to be reminded from time to time.  I enjoyed this and will read further posts. thanks so much!

Jun 20, 2009 05:10 AM #64
Rainmaker
347,904
Anja Kerstens
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Morgan Hill, CA
GRI, CDPE, CHS, ASP, Selling Silicon Valley Real

Good blog and great discussion comments.  I agree fully with the positive image. Once you post something to the net it is read by so many and it's there forever.  There are even programs that track conversations.

Jun 20, 2009 02:55 PM #65
Rainmaker
125,573
Susanne Novak, ABR, FIS, GRI
RE/MAX 24/7 - Columbus, OH

Long live the soft sell - AMEN to that! I've have had several clients who told me, when we sat around the closing table "you were not as pushy as agent XYZ" and that is one of the best compliments to receive :)

Jun 21, 2009 08:32 AM #66
Rainer
40,651
Julia Horton Fishel
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Harbor, FL
ASKjulia. REAL estate. REAL answers.

I'm really thankful for your 'read 10' to every one you you write, idea.  Sometimes we all need to slow down! Easier said than done!

Jun 22, 2009 02:30 PM #67
Rainmaker
199,795
Mark Velasco
Sharpstone Commercial - Whittier, CA
Top Producing COMMERCIAL Team 30+ years experience

Interesting post Spencer. You forgot to add no junk mail or Spam. Nobody likes that. It is a quick way to get blocked.

Jun 25, 2009 09:43 AM #68
Rainer
182,446
Stuart Dobson
eLoanRates.org - Thornton, CO

Spencer,

those are all great tips.  It amazes me that I still see the 'spam, hit and run' posts online.  Some people just don't get it.

Jun 26, 2009 04:12 AM #69
Rainmaker
260,438
Erin Newington
(916) 585-3858 - Elk Grove, CA
Elk Grove Realtor

# 5 Is the best point from my point of view.  I have need to do better reading and learning from others here at Active Rain!

Jul 06, 2009 04:29 PM #70
Rainer
22,335
Enat Halperin
Halperin Realty Corp - Weston, FL
Broker-Owner, CDPE

Now that's a good article! Not only we want to keep our reputation, but we want to "play fair".

And if we take your advice about writing only what we would be saying from here - all our reputations would improve! 

Aug 13, 2009 03:09 AM #72
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Spencer Rascoff

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