A panel of three attorneys gave a terrific presentation about social media at the California Escrow Association (CEA) annual education meeting in October.
Here at A Team, we were proud to see an A Team alum, Jennifer Felton, Esquire, of RELAW, APC on the panel. Jennifer worked for A Team on assignment at industry client sites while in law school. We were so struck by the relevance of the attorneys’ recommendations to our clients and employees that we asked and received Jennifer’s okay to share the highlights of the presentation with you here on the blog.
Best Practices for Your Personal and Company Pages and Accounts:
- Google yourself every 30 days. If you lead an escrow firm, also google the firm’s name every 30 days.
What may you find?
Yelp reviews, tweets, Facebook posts, even employer reviews on job boards. What’s important is that you see and review the most highly ranked mentions of you and your company scattered about the Web – the items that pop up on the first page of the Google search. Know what’s out there.
- Know your audience. Online image is marketing, so use good marketing techniques.
First, know your audience. Keep your most important audience in mind as you develop your personal and company social media pages. What does your audience value and respect? Have you presented yourself in a way that will attract the audience you want to speak with? Does your public social media presence reflect your values as a professional and as a company?
- Take the time to keep your social media accounts current and accurate. Do you value accuracy and professionalism in your vendors? Making sure your social media pages are accurate, up-to-date and typo-free will present you and your company in the best professional light.
Escrow Professionals and Endorsements: Risky Business?
The panel of attorneys advised escrow professionals to use caution when posting, liking and endorsing on social media.
- How often do you *like* agents’ listings posted on social media? How often do you promote agents’ open houses by sharing their posts?
The panel recommended caution. As an escrow settlement service provider, your use of social media to promote your broker and agent clients could be a RESPA/DBO violation. Be certain that you fully understand and follow your firm’s social media policy.
If you lead an escrow firm, ensure you have a clear and appropriate policy, reviewed by your attorney, if possible, and ensure that each of your employees knows and follows the policy.
- Do you use your personal account for shares, likes and other communication with and about agents?
The panelists made the important point that the same RESPA/DBO rules apply whether you use your personal account or the company account.
- How often do you post closed escrows on social media, mentioning the broker, the selling price or other information related to the transaction?
The panel recommended caution here, as well. Disclosing details of a transaction on social media could be a violation of confidentiality. Ensure your policy covers these posts, as well.
- Does your LinkedIn profile list endorsements for skills in which you are not truly specialized?
The attorneys recommeded deleting all endorsements that could be considered out of date or inaccurate, to avoid any appearance of false or misleading advertising. Remember, you use LinkedIn to attract clients to your firm.
- Do you use texts or other electronic messaging to communicate with agents and clients?
If so, you’d be wise to always follow-up in email, according to the attorney trio at the CEA meeting.
Texts and instant messenger applications do not constitute sufficient written instruction to convey real estate property. Always follow those communications with email confirmations, and retain all of your email communication as part of the file.
Be sure you have an electronic filing system that would allow you to make all of the email communications that form part of a transaction and a file available throughout the required retention period.
A sincere thanks to Jennifer Felten of RELAW APC, Rose Pothier of Pothier and Associates, and Steve Garcia of Garcia Legal APC for a useful and impactful presentation. Thanks, as well, to CEA for bringing us such good content every year at the Education Conference.