Staying safe on social media

Now, perhaps more than ever, real estate folks should be cautious with their social media presence and make sure they are keeping up to date on the latest in cybersecurity, according to the National Association of Realtors and Bay State Realtor magazine.

NAR has a trove of webinars and other information about social networking, smart phones, e-mail and online safety, and Bay State has dedicated a recent issue to the topic of Realtor safety.

MAR advises that agents and brokers become more familiar with their online accounts if they’re not already; make sure their privacy settings are set properly; be selective in who they allow into their social circles; and think before they post.

One place to start with better securing your online presence is by setting up a Facebook business page, rather than using a personal Facebook profile to promote your business. The pages “are known for their marketing capabilities, but they also allow you to keep your personal and professional posts separate,” the MAR article noted.

MAR also suggests taking a closer look at settings on social media accounts to customize who can see what on your various pages. The association suggests keeping profiles like Instagram public, otherwise followers must request permission to follow your posts.

Although it might make your following look more robust, take a closer look at who is allowed to follow your social media accounts and be selective on who makes the cut, MAR suggests.

“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 seeing your personal information,” the article suggested.

Finally, take a step back and evaluate what you’re posting before you hit the send button. Ask whether it is the right kind of post for your platform, according to MAR.

“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 in Instagram or are those better for your Facebook Stories?”

For more on cultivating your social media presence, watch AgentEDU’s courses on Yelp for Your Business and Developing Your Professional Image.

Financial resources in a time of economic crisis

It’s been about two years since the National Association of Realtors launched its financial planning and assistance wing, the Center for Realtor Financial Wellness, and just in time to find its footing for the coming global recession.

The center offers Realtors financial help in a variety of ways, such as assistance with taxes, strategies for investing, tools for budgeting, and more, and has amassed a collection of webinars in just a few years and made them available to view on demand.

Laying the groundwork over the last few years has positioned the program to adjust quickly to the pandemic with COVID-19-specific programming and virtual seminars to take the place of live events originally planned for later this year.

NAR Director of Member Development Kasey Stewart said the center grew out of an idea that originally aimed to help provide education and support for Realtors investing in real estate.
A survey of membership at the time, however, revealed that half of Realtors were not saving for and were not prepared for retirement, Stewart said. She emphasized that, because real estate brokers and agents usually work as independent contractors and often are not provided the same financial help and resources as other kinds of employees, the center’s work is vital to many members’ long-term monetary security.

“We try to cover the full spectrum of financial issues that independent contractors face,” Stewart said.

Brittany Schanck, financial wellness manager with NAR, said the center doesn’t take a cookie-cutter approach but rather tailors its assistance to the needs of each individual member seeking help. Brokers help their clients make what is often the most important financial decision of their lives, but who helps them in their financial journey, she asked.

The center was beginning to increase its notoriety earlier this year, holding its first live event on March 4 with the Bay East Association of Realtors in California, where the center offered sessions on good financial habits, investment strategies and retirement planning. But the first in-person event would be the center’s last for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like everyone else facing this new reality, the center had to pivot and focus on providing information about coronavirus-related issues and holding virtual events.

Programming quickly focused on helping members understand various aspects of the federal stimulus package such as the Payment Protection Program, Stewart said. She advised members who are new to the program to visit the center’s web portal at financialwellness.realtor and complete a 10-question assessment to determine where they are in their careers and overall financial security. They then can begin to set financial goals and find a clear path toward achieving those goals.

One of the best parts, Stewart said, is there’s no cost. “We fund it through member dues,” she said. “We just want to help them. It’s truly a benefit.”


Additional financial resources are available on NAR’s website, and from AgentEDU’s free business plan template.