Social media is a way to showcase listings, build relationships, and connect with prospects and clients. To maximize its benefits, you need a solid social media strategy and a social media safety plan so your posts don’t land you in court.
Avoiding a real estate lawsuit related to social media starts by knowing the risks. Here’s how to avoid social media errors that could lead to legal issues.
Don’t falsely advertise
With digital images, it’s easy to edit out unwanted visuals from pictures, but in most cases you shouldn’t. If you do virtual staging, a safe practice is to show before and after pictures that are clearly labeled.
Just as with mistakes on MLS listings, you are responsible for identifying and correcting mistakes on social media posts and marketing. Avoid statements like “perfect condition,” since this kind of phrase can be easily disputed. A better choice is to give clear, accurate descriptions of the property without vague labels that might be misunderstood or argued.
Social media posts are often short and informal, which means it’s easy to get a little lax. Take time to get it right. Since even old posts can get you into trouble, you should edit or correct past information you know is wrong.
Get social media authorization
You want to share success stories, so you snap a photo of your clients in front of their home and post it to Facebook. Is that a problem? It depends. Do you have authorization to post photos of your clients on social media?
Make it a practice to get authorization to use client names and likenesses in photographs and videos. And always get authorization if the photos or videos include children. You must have permission to use the photos and videos in social media, on your website, and in any other marketing materials.
Additional information to convey in an authorization is that clients will not be compensated in any way for the use of images or other materials, and they can choose to revoke authorization in the future by stating their intent in writing (though they cannot undo any sharing done while the authorization was in place).
Whether your clients sign the authorization or choose not to, make clear in the clients’ file that authorization has or has not been given.
Steering clear of social media isn’t the way to avoid a real estate lawsuit. Knowing the risks and taking steps to protect yourself is how you can reduce your risk.
This article is reprinted with permission from CRES Insurance Services, an errors and omissions risk-reduction partner of the association. A longer version of this article called “3 ways to avoid a real estate lawsuit when using social media” is available at cresinsurance.com. Copyright held by CRES Insurance Services.