You Can’t Polish a Social Media Terd

Real Estate Agent with Southeastern Realty Group

I was discussing matters with a team member recently.  We both agreed that a system we were using in our office was not working and needed to be thrown out and not re-built.  Without hesitation he summed it up…”you can’t polish a terd.”  Say what?  I could not contain the laughter.

Never before have I heard the “can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse” analogy put quite so bluntly.  For some reason I connected his saying to an issue I have been having with real estate professionals and their social media interaction.

Many don’t think about their on-line reputation and the focus of their on-line presence enough.  You can easily tarnish your image irretrievably.  To be blunt, you can come across as a terd and never quite polish your way back to credibility.  Remember that things you post on-line are out there for good.  Even if you try to remove a post, it is still likely cached somewhere and could pop-up eternally.

I see this all the time especially in more casual social media environments such as Twitter and Facebook.  Real estate professionals will post noise that is unrelated to their profession which makes you more accessible and likeable.  However, they forget that some noise is unimportant and could offend fans and followers that you worked hard to bring into your network.  Those people that it took you time to gather may now un-friend or un-follow you.

Remember too that your clients may choose to check you out on your social media accounts to measure your professionalism based upon your status updates, who your friends are, and what content you share.  These potential clients need to find a stellar on-line presence.

An agent that I like to follow, recently wrote about how frustrated they were to spend two whole days showing properties to buyers.  Any buyer traffic that she is driving to her site who see that status update will likely lose their interest in working with her.  I mean, they wouldn’t want to inconvenience her or anything.

You will be measured by your political leanings, moral fabric, and commitment to the industry.  Don’t contradict yourself.  If you take a position on something, stay consistent and proud of that position.  If you post inappropriate content, remember that is how you will be remembered even if 95% of what you post is helpful information.

Building an on-line reputation is essential for your business success and, if strategically done, will become an invaluable part of both your lead generation and business-to-business networking.

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Comments (28)

Monica Foster
Monica Foster Team of eXp Realty - League City, TX


You are so right!  I see this happen a lot on FaceBook, someone complaining about something or saying things that might be offensive to clientele.  Great advice ... I also love the picture of Mr. Hanky, the Christmas Poo, from Southpark!!  : )

Dec 22, 2010 04:50 PM
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Broker/Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Amy, well your title certainly sucked me in...information that certainly is worth repeating...congrats on the feature.

Dec 22, 2010 05:33 PM
The ATC Properties Team
Keller Williams Realty West Monmouth - Rumson, NJ

Absolutely great advice and so easy to forget. Thank you for reminding us. Know your brand and the presence you are trying to show and ensure what you share on social media ONLY reflects that.

Dec 22, 2010 10:09 PM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

Having recently discovered Facebook, it amazes me what some people put up as their status updates.

Just freaky!

Dec 22, 2010 10:47 PM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Hi Amy, great post and very true.  I just never understand some AR posts (not members only) as well as Facebook, etc that some folks promoting a business will write.  What are they thinking?

Dec 22, 2010 11:14 PM
Chuck Carstensen
RE/MAX Results - Elk River, MN
Minnesota/Wisconsin Real Estate Expert

Definitely need to use wisdom when you post. I do think its okay to be social on social media but the complaining things should be left offline.

Dec 23, 2010 12:11 AM
Surprise Arizona Realtor Jim Braun Sun City Grand Active Adult Communities
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Jim Braun Sun City Grand Az - Surprise, AZ
Surprise AZ real estate Phoenix West Valley

Amy: Love the title. It amazes me to see what some write and I think why would you ever tell the world what you just did. I guess some don't realize how hard it is to build a good reputation and how easy it is to destroy that very reputation they just worked so hard building.

Dec 23, 2010 12:12 AM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Amy you really hit the nail on the head. I can't believe some of the things I read from other Realtors in my status updates on Facebook. It is funny how so many do not comprehend how social media really works. I love the polish a terd expression as well:)

Dec 23, 2010 12:23 AM
Tanya Nouwens
Immeubles Deakin Realty - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

You can't polish a terd!  Hahahahaha!  That's hysterical.  Your points are all well made and well taken, Amy, but that expression will stay with me for a long, long time :)

Dec 23, 2010 12:28 AM
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

I cracked up when I saw the title and clicked on the link to make a comment about the spelling and then really started laughing when I saw the picture of the infamous "Mr. Hankey". You obviously have a great sense of humor and it worked niceky with a serious subject about keep us our online reputation! Great job, I looking forward to more posts from you in the future!

Dec 23, 2010 12:33 AM
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

Amy. I have found that the best way to handle my social media and what I put out for the world to see is to just be myself. My opinion is that if someone has to be watchful everytime they write an article or post a stautus update then maybe they need to work on themselves first. Maybe they have a problem with negativity if their articles are always negative. Maybe if their status updates always sound frustrated then they have a stress issue. And so forth.

Dec 23, 2010 02:01 AM
Krystal Knott
Christie's International Real Estate - Summit Colorado - Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge CO Real Estate & All Summit County CO

Amy, I agree you have to mindful of what you post/blog but it is also important to come across as human and not just realtor.  It is a fine line and hard to balance but hopefully through trial and error most of us come across as both.  Thanks for the post, your title definately made me want to click and read your post.  Happy Holidays!  --Krystal

Dec 23, 2010 02:50 AM
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

Amy:  Even if I had not read the article itself ... I would have gained something something from just the title of the post.  I'm still laughing.  Just the word "terd" in a title or post ... it just funny!  Sorry!  Got to get the chuckles out!  But .. the post was good too.  I really came out ahead with this.  Maybe we should have a "terd" group??  I think we all have something we could contribute.  Just saying ...


Dec 23, 2010 02:51 AM
Justin Dibbs
Fairway Independent Mortgage - Ashburn, VA
Mortgage Advisor

Yes, one has to be aware of what you post on FB, Twitter ect.  People are always looking.  I can't believe how many people use bad language on their social media sites.

Dec 23, 2010 04:09 AM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Amy, social media is there to stay. WE must be mindful of what we post but at the same time be real, who we are, passionate about what we are doing.

Dec 23, 2010 04:31 AM
Lisa Matondi
RE/MAX Professional Associates - Brookfield, MA

Point well taken, keeping it professional is utmost even when posting on your personal site.

Dec 23, 2010 11:41 PM
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Urban Nest Real Estate Group - Atlanta, GA
Your Urban Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant

I couldn't agree more!  You can lose dozens of potential clients when you "vent" on your blog.  Even if you're doing on a Member's Only post, it still concerns me, as the person reading it could be a referring agent in another state!  You just never know...

Dec 26, 2010 04:50 AM
Tom Crowle
Bamfield, BC

Very good title. Couldn't help but click the link. You make some interesting points. A lot of people forget that anyone can see anything on the internet, good or bad. You should only post on the internet what you would naturally say to the local newspaper. The internet is a public place.

Dec 28, 2010 12:06 AM
Steve Bucher
Mortgage Intelligence Mortgage Consulting - Kamloops, BC


Dec 31, 2010 06:48 AM
CA COASTAL ESTATES Lauren Selinsky Perez CRS
California Coastal Estates - Aliso Viejo, CA
"Your Real Estate Broker" #oclauren

Amy, that is pretty funny. I am still trying to make sure I can make changes on my FB~ as I have a Company page off my personal page and it's just everything shows on my personal page. Although, I am careful of what I say, sometimes we just want to be a little free with our words... Or get a message out... Nonetheless, not anything bad, but personal and I would rather keep business and personal a lil' separate.

Jan 03, 2011 07:56 PM