Real Social – How to Stay Safe Online

September 9, 2020

- By Teah Hopper

Everyone should take online safety seriously, but REALTORS® must be especially cautious on the Internet. The nature of the real estate industry means that your location is often public, and you likely have a wider audience than many of your friends and followers. Social media is an incredible tool for REALTORS®, and when you use it safely it becomes even better. So, let’s talk about how to stay safe online.

Know your accounts.

Do you have a Facebook Business Page for your real estate posts? If not, you should make one. Facebook Business Pages are known for their marketing capabilities, but they also allow you to keep your personal and professional posts separate. This means that you can choose to keep private information, like details on family vacations, exclusively on your personal page, where you have more control over who sees each post. (Yes, you can actually change the privacy setting of each individual post.) Just keep in mind that Facebook Business Pages are always public, so the items you share are available for all to see. This is great for listings, but for personal details? Not so much!

Check your privacy settings.

Many social media accounts default to hyper-public settings, so it’s important to alter them to fit your needs. To change your Facebook privacy preferences, navigate to “settings,” then click “privacy.” Here you can customize everything from who can see your posts to who can send you friend requests. Take the time to review and update your settings…

Instagram also has privacy features. You can make your account public, which means that everyone can see your posts, or private, which keeps your posts hidden until you accept someone’s request to follow you. I do recommend if you use Instagram that you keep your account public and only share information you are okay sharing publicly. But if you prefer to make your account private, navigate to “settings” on the Instagram app. With a private account, if you reject a person’s follow request, they will not be able to see your photos.

Be selective.

While it can be flattering to get lots of friend or follow requests, it’s not a good idea to accept every single one. When you are selective about who you bring into your personal accounts, you gain privacy and security. You should carefully vet future friend requests, but you can also clean out your current list of friends and followers, too. Delete anyone you don’t know and anyone you don’t want to see your personal information. This will make sure your personal pages are just for you and the people you care about and give you peace of mind about what you are sharing.

Think before you post.

Before you share a post on social media, ask yourself if this is the right platform for it. For example, do you want to share your current location on a public business page, or is that something to share with close friends only? Do you want to share silly, personal photos with a wide audience on Instagram, or are those better for your Facebook Stories? Taking a quick second to double-check your posts can keep you safe.

This week, add a social media check-up to your to-do list. Assess all the privacy settings on each account, and start to clean out your current lists of friends of followers. Remember, social media is only fun if it’s used safely.