You don’t even have to be active on social media to fall victim to the risks associated with it’s availability. This is the reality many title agents face as a push for social media best practices begins to sweep the industry.
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council has published guidelines that it hopes will protect title agents from the risks associated with the presence of social media in todays business world. As a title agency, what do you need to know? How can you protect yourself?
It starts with a plan.
Social media should enhance your title agencies goals. If you’re looking to grow your business or gain brand equity in the marketplace, social media is certainly for you. Social media has become a strong enhancement to word of mouth marketing and thus is an effective and affordable form of advertising online.
However, before you go about giving the power to post to your employees or even a marketing company, remember that it is your policies that will protect you. Every policy should outline the following:
- Your title agency’s goals in using social media as a form of advertising.
- The roles and responsibilities of those who post on your behalf online.
- Internal best practices for daily publishing.
- Best practices for handling serious scenarios.
- How to handel customer complains that are published out of your control online.
This policy is your first line of defense and guide on how social media should enhance your company online.
Whether you use social media or not, every title agency should develop in writing a Social Media Policy with the help of marketing, human resources and technology specialists to reduce risk. Why should a company that doesn’t use social media create a Social Media Policy? I’m glad you asked because that is exactly where the risks associated with social media begin.
Your reputation for the world to see.
Social media has created an entirely new form of communication that knows no borders, unified language or even a standard of etiquette online. Because of this consumers have become empowered to spread ideas quickly and effectively using websites like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. While many title agencies will enjoy great benefit from quality reviews, raving testimonials and increased customer interaction, some may accidentally find themselves in the middle of an compliant made against their company publicly online. This is called reputation risk and is a kind of risk that every title agency is vulnerable to.
However, reputation risk does not simply happen with your customers. It also reveals an often overlooked and mismanaged vulnerability within a title agency, your employees. While allowing employees to manage your social media may be beneficial to growing your business it also can be dangerous to allow this kind of public representation of your company without a proper policy and training.
It’s the law.
Beyond your reputation and proper management of your social media internally, it is also important to address the laws that govern advertising as a land title agency such as:
- Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)
- Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices
- CAN-SPAM Act
Every social media policy should accurately articulate the efforts by the title agency to document how its online presence comply with the law. This will protect your title agency should you become the target of legal action resulting from your use of social media.
Embrace social media and enjoy its reward.
It is most important to be proactive in being sure that your social media is working to address your business goals and not hurt them. There is great reward in the use of social media for your title agency and it’s future in the real estate industry. Social media has changed what it means to market your services and advertise to your audience bringing affordable mass communication tools to title agencies across the nation.