Social Media Sharing of Listings

Share This Listing! Wait, before you hit “share” there are rules that govern sharing another agent’s listings on social media. Please note, you can share your OWN listings without limitation, and depending on your office policy, can typically share you office listings freely as well. Issues arise with sharing your competitor’s listings.  When you enter a listing into the MLS in Berkshire County, the following applies:

  1. Cooperating brokers have the right to print, email or share property listing data with PROSPECTIVE PURCHASERS that may be interested (MLS Rules)
  2. If internet display is checked in the listing, other agents may include the listing only in an IDX WEBSITE SEARCH, following very clear parameters of displaying the listing agent / agency name in a prominent location. (IDX Rules)
  3. Cooperating Brokers can otherwise advertise or market a listing only WITH PERMISSION of the Listing Broker. (Code of Ethics)

Does your “share” fall into one of those three categories? Yes – Great! Share away. No? Investigate further before proceeding

Know your audience

Are you dealing with prospective purchasers?  Since advertising property listing information without the consent or authorization of the listing broker is not allowed, and copyright law prohibits reproduction of copyright-protected works (like listing photos) without permission, the question becomes….

Is Facebook “advertising”? Is Linked-In? Is a blog post or email? A good rule of thumb:

  • Advertising is between an agent and the public. In most cases, an agent has no control over who sees the information (unless a targeted ad).  And if you’re paying to target an audience, the very nature of that makes it an ad.
  • Communication takes place between an individual or group of individuals and an agent.  You know the people you are “speaking” to and your message is not open to anyone.  When sharing a listing, you are able to limit that message to prospective purchasers who you believe would have interest in the message.

If you create a general blog post, Tweet, Linked-In update or Google+ post, the audience is not controlled by the agent and would be considered advertising. If you send a private Linked-In message or email to select individuals or groups, that’s communication.  Facebook is more complicated.  Brian Larson of Larson Skinner, a well know law firm the Berkshire MLS engages for highly technical issues, weighed in on the problem.

“Posting information on Facebook would likely be considered a type of advertising between a broker and the public. [BUT] Facebook has many levels of privacy settings [and Friend groups] that can limit the viewing audience. For example, if a broker posts a listing on her Facebook page, and that page is available to all Facebook users or to all of the broker’s Facebook friends, chances are she is advertising the listing.

“If on the other hand the page is available only to a small group of her friends, perhaps consisting of clients looking for real estate in the neighborhood in which the listing lies, she might just be delivering listing information in the context of a brokerage relationship.”

Let’s be real:

Listing agents really want to sell the property. They are not likely to withhold permission for you to share that new gem of a home with your network of prospects…. But, they worked hard for that listing, and anything that makes it appear as if YOU listed the property or doesn’t give credit to the source would be the main reason why your marketing “help” isn’t welcome. So, the most important test you can give a listing share is:  Does it present a true picture? [Article 12 COE]

If you “share” the listing brokerage’s Facebook post and it retains all of their information on the post and links to THEIR page, that is fine. But, think about it.  It is very rare that an agent would lead their circle of influence to competitor’s Facebook presence… but you can!

If you want to share property information for another agent’s listing that you develop, you should:

(1) get the listing broker’s permission

OR

(2) display only a link on your Facebook page back to the listing on your/your office IDX site that contains all proper attribution; AND display the post ONLY to your Facebook friends who are clients that are likely interested in the property in question.

Hope that helps to clear up all of the confusion out there.  For Brian Larson’s full post on this topic, including details on the regulations that govern this topic, please visits the http://www.larsonskinner.com blog.

If you are a listing agent, do you think you would consider giving cooperating brokers persmission to share your listing on Facebook via the Realtor-to-Realtor reamrks?