Most real estate agents have begun embracing social media as an essential part of their marketing strategy, but entering the online universe in a professional capacity can be every bit as dangerous as it is advantageous. For every opportunity to gain exposure, you have to nimbly avoid the digital pitfalls that could easily derail both your reputation and your business.

To take advantage of some of the most popular platforms while still maintaining your professionalism, it’s important to sidestep social media marketing mistakes and to engage in some savvy strategy. Here’s how.

Adjust Your Tone

You never quite realize how significant inflection and body language are to a great conversation until you’re trying to communicate without them. Things like sarcasm and humor don’t always translate well when you’re texting or posting online, so it’s important to give each ad or status update an extra look before you hit send. If you have any doubt as to how your message may be interpreted, do yourself a favor and ditch it. No witty joke is worth offending a current or potential client.

Listen More Than You Talk

Social media strategists have a lot to offer in terms of understanding and connecting with consumers, but you can learn an awful lot on your own by just listening. For every post you create, you should spend at least double that amount of time reading and responding to comments. Look at your competitors’ pages, read Google+ and Facebook reviews, and check out local and industry-related hashtags. The information you glean from these not-so-covert missions could be the key to your next sale.

Stop Posting Self Promoting Content

Contrary to popular belief, social media marketing is not an opportunity to toot your own horn as loud and as often as possible. Try that, and your followers will do anything and everything to get away from the noise — and from you. Self-promotion is fine, but those posts should be interspersed with informative and entertaining content that helps readers solve problems or improve their day.

For instance, you can:

  • Share a link to an article highlighting changes in the local market
  • Link to your blog about relocation tips
  • Post an infographic with quirky real estate stats
  • Profile a local neighborhood
  • Talk up a local nonprofit you enjoy working with

All of these help you gain notice as a local expert while also building a rapport between you and your audience.

Aim for Consistency and Quality

Posting regularly gives your followers something to count on. If you post several of your listings a day, home seekers know they can drop by this often to see what properties have just hit the market. You can also become a destination for other community members by sharing local events and news stories — preferably positive, human interest-type reports —  that are of interest to people in your sales area. Even if those posts reach people who aren’t currently ready to buy or sell, it never hurts to build up a little name recognition and keep your brand top of mind.

Value Authenticity and Accuracy Above All

If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that the internet is ripe for misinformation and hyperbole. With relative anonymity and photo-editing software so readily accessible, it’s far too easy to filter pictures and tweak listings until they no longer resemble the actual property. Whether intentional or not, fibbing about things like a home’s features or your sales stats is not only a clear violation of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics, it’s a sure-fire way to all but guarantee that you get a reputation for dishonesty. Be forthright and embrace transparency, and the trust you get in return is literally priceless.