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Real estate columnist says remove clients from your Facebook

I have to tell you about the futureBack to the past from the future Bernice Ross, Inman blogger and 30 year real estate veteran turned public speaker and writer suggests against the social media elites that Realtors should remove clients as friends from their Facebook in order to avoid jeopardizing client confidentiality.

Doc! I have to tell you about the future!

So the news that Bernice returns from the future to tell us is not that we should manage (or learn to manage) friends that become clients in the social sphere, but just not to make friends that buy and sell homes with you at all- at least not on Facebook.

Back to 1988…

What Bernice fails to understand is that making friends/connections is the point of being on Facebook, and to make friends that might recommend you to their friends- it’s what we’ve all done offline for years. I recall the early days of email the same rhetoric from the old guard to mind your Ps and Qs on the internet or to just plain avoid the world wide web of nightmares altogether. OMG THEY’RE STEALING AWER DA-TA!

Bernice is entitled to her opinion, but in the real world, it is our recommendation that you meet clients wherever they wish to meet you. Back up your conversations, as well as have the conversation early on (once in the process of representation) on how you and your clients should best communicate.

Where we’re going, we’ll need roads?

As for the fear mongering on violating Facebook TOS by placing property listings on your personal page rather than your business page, it is true, but heavy handed- just mind the same TOS that your clients agreed to and you’re good to go. As for data mining by applications? Every time you login using Facebook (anywhere) you transfer your data to the Facebook (approved) trusted entity you’re logging into- again, you and your clients agreed to this via the same TOS when joining Facebook or giving permission to each individual app. Your clients are aware of their risks or they aren’t, it’s truly none of your business or concern. Obviously, common sense dictates we not discuss personal information in the public realm, and I doubt a Realtor would be foolish enough to announce a client did not qualify via Facebook status update.

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This idea that we should be afraid of anything we don’t understand is why consumers rail against your commissions versus your value and fear mongering only perpetuates old school stereotypes of real estate professionals. Instead, our time is better served on learning about and managing advancing technologies and mediums, not fearing them.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Drew Meyers - Virtual Results

    February 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I 2nd your opinion. Someone sent this article to me earlier today and I responded with a quick tirade about the bad advice.

  2. Lesley Lambert

    February 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Another brilliant bit of advice from a namby pamby that isn’t properly using social media and as such thinks it is bunk.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Okay, namby pamby? Really? In 65k comments, that’s a first :p

  3. Erion Shehaj via Facebook

    February 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    What a ridiculous idea. So what’s left then, other realtors?!

  4. I agree…. back to past for sure!

  5. aMY L cavENDER

    February 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Unless you are posting inappropriate stuff on FB (which you shouldn’t be…) why in the heck would you defriend your clients? The reason I have my current/past/potential clients on my FB and Twitter is to show that I’m a real person.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Amy, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that you’re a real woman who rocks it every single day for her friends and clients.

  6. Vicki Moore

    February 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I just listened to a few of her podcasts and was really disappointed that she talked about things that aren’t new and inventive but outdated and overdone.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Vicki, you’ve been around AG for so long there is no doubt that you’ve heard and read ‘it all.’ :p

  7. Becky Squyres

    February 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    She also wrote an article not so long ago claiming that Facebook for Real Estate was better left to the baby boomer generations. Ross made some fairly offensive claims that the younger generations did not know how to use medium as an effective marketing tool because of questionable material possibly being posted which included references to binge drinking. First off, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to understand how to appropriately sensor and moderate facebook content. Second, it’s our medium. It’s how we’ve communicated with our friends and peers since before mom and the rest of her Farmville posse started taking up shop. She’s welcome to her opinion, but there’s a reason why every Generation Y oriented conference I’ve been to has been a completely offensive: Mom just doesn’t understand.

  8. Jeff Bulman

    February 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Horrible advice, shun people who like you because of some far fetched fear of litigation. Hopefully people will stop putting stock in “coaches”, professional “bloggers” and other who don’t live in the real world of real estate.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    February 22, 2011 at 1:49 am

    I just re-joined Inman news and the first article I read was about Facebook only being good for particular generations, followed by how great being pregnant was for getting business. Today I read this article and just shut down my blog reader…

    Inman needs to better editors (cough-cough like Lani cough-cough). There’s virtually no consistent message there anymore. That said, these types of articles do get traction…

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:24 am

      I’ve never paid for a subscription, and never will. News should be free.

  10. Ken Brand

    February 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

    This is what’s beautiful about Facebook, blogging, Twitter, et al. We can all beam our good, bad and ugly points of view across the universe and our success-or-suck destiny is accelerated. If you’re attractive you’ll succeed faster. If you suck, you’ll #fail faster.

    At least Bernice has a point of view, albeit one I don’t agree with. At least she’s putting it out there. How many people never stand for anything and remain quiet and invisible.

    No doubt there is, although we won’t hear from them here, a tribe of prospects and training-consumers who will welcome the news that Facebook is dangerous and this article will reinforce their perspective and garner new speaking engagements, etc.

    While to my point of view these recommendations are extreme, I definitely see and read equally extreme recommendations that proclaim Facebook, et al to be the holy grail and a replacement for the real work of on-purpose and in-person contact, conversation, solving and selling.

    The power of sharing our thoughts and beliefs with everyone everywhere is a transformative.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Her magic bullet is not to play at all. We’re used to that, Ken, there’s enough old school fear left around the industry to choke the healthiest of ideas.

      • Ken Brand

        February 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

        Yeah, you’re right. In my view it’s so 180 that what struck me was not the message, but how we can ALL demonstrate to the world who we are and what we’re about.

        You’ll appreciate this. I was in day long water cooler talk with several super smart people. Technology types, successful agents, brokers and consultant types. There were 7 or 8 of us, just sharing thoughts on what we were working on and stuff like that. Before we started sharing we went around the room and introduced ourselves, how long we we had been in the business, what we do, where we do it, etc.

        The subject of eLeads, conversion, lost opportunity, scrubbing, incubating and stuff like that. Eric Stegman was sharing some ideas. Anyway, asked what I thought about one of the elements of his idea. I told him I thought it would never work. I’ve never seen it work. He should come up with a better plan, something with less resistance. He’s a cool guy. He looked at me and smiled. Then politely asked me, “Do you know why you think that Ken?” Me thinking, “Because I have experience.” Me speaking, “Why?” Eric, “Because you’ve been in the business for 30 years.”

        Holy crap. You could have knocked me down with a feather. He was right. I took a position based on my experience and never stopped to challenge my own assumptions. We all do that, that’s what happened with BR’s post I imagine.

        So, my thought was, that whatever the message, today we can broadcast it and others can rebroadcast and comment, yesteryears we couldn’t. And this demonstration of how sharing your thoughts can create conversations like this, to me highlights more about the media medium than the message.

        Having said all that, you’re right. I imagine those looking for confirmation that FB and other tools are dangerous and to be avoided, have something they can hang their hat on. The beat goes on.


        • Benn Rosales

          February 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

          I’ve always said new ideas are best mixed with wisdom. I call Jeff Brown to counter balance my ideas. He’s called me an idealist, and windmill tilting many times, and I’ve called him old fashioned and a stick in the mud. Typically, we end up in the middle. 🙂 Jeff has never told me not to try though, and he’s also never told me to be afraid to fail.

    • Benn Rosales

      February 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

      PS love that she stands for something, 99.9% of all others stand silently.

  11. Matthew Hardy

    February 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

    “social media elites”

    What’s that? 😉

    “News should be free.”

    You mean, without advertising?

  12. BawldGuy

    February 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I love these discussions almost as much as homemade, overfilled tacos on Sunday nights. I’m on FB but mostly inactive. I’m happy for agents who’re doin’ massive volume due to their FB efforts. Oops, my bad, there is no such agent.

    Much as twitter has been proved overrated, I suspect the same for FB. Good personal interaction, great for broadcasting posts/links, but not effective for much else — at least when it comes to bank deposits. Let’s establish a gold standard for kinda sorta elite results, say $100,000 in gross commissions for a calendar year.

    In Austin an agent closing just 18 sides, less than 1.5 a month, would generate (at 3%/side & $200,000/side) $102,000 in gross commissions. In San Diego it’d take 10 closed sides. Let’s exclude agents with blogs, as I’ve already agreed FB is a solid link-broadcasting medium. How many agents in the entire country can say, with a straight face, they’ve closed a side a month directly from their FB efforts?

    FB isn’t worthless by a longshot. I’m OldSchool through and through, but even I know it has its value. But somebody, anybody, please admit its power to produce bank deposits is acutely overrated.

    OldFogie Radio now signing off. 🙂

  13. Matthew Hardy

    February 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    @BawldGuy That gauntlet may have to remain on the ground for now. Of course the argument might be made that bank deposits weren’t really the goal. 😉

  14. BawldGuy

    February 22, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    “Of course the argument might be made that bank deposits weren’t really the goal.”

    Oh, well in that case, FB rocks!

  15. MH for Movoto

    February 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I read that article too. definitely a bit fear-monger-esque. while she’s got a point, and you shouldn’t conduct any SERIOUS business on FB (obviously), if you’re on FB and your client’s on FB – what’s the harm?

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