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Incentives, Marketing and Social Media

Like me on Facebook and be entered into a draw for an iPad!

Follow me on Twitter and be entered to win a draw for an e-book reader!

Join my LinkedIn group and you could win dinner on me!

What do these three statements have in common? They each include an example of an incentive, which is anything that is advertised, communicated or offered by a brokerage to the public or a person for the purpose of attracting business to the brokerage. They include a promise, good, service, game of chance, contest, or anything else of value.

Regardless of how an incentive is communicated or advertised, the rules surrounding incentives are the same. All incentives must be offered through a brokerage. Individual real estate (or mortgage brokerage) professionals cannot offer incentives separate from or in addition to those incentives offered by their brokerage. Any incentive offered by one industry professional within a brokerage must be offered by all industry professionals registered with the brokerage.

Industry professionals often treat online advertising/marketing differently than traditional methods, but they shouldn’t. The line between a professional profile and a personal profile can get blurry, especially when the same content is used for both. Simply mentioning that you are an industry professional on a personal social media profile is not marketing per se; it simply identifies your profession. However, when you set up a presence on LinkedIn or Facebook, for example, and your profile clearly promotes yourself and/or your brokerage, and may include marketing tactics such as the incentives above, that professional profile falls under RECA’s Advertising Guidelines and RECA views it as brokerage advertising.

To keep the personal/professional distinction clear, you may want to maintain two accounts in various social media platforms. One would be a personal account that you don’t use for marketing. The other account would be for you to market your services and RECA would consider it a form of marketing or advertising.

RECA is very pro-social media; and a contest through your Facebook page may seem like an innovative marketing idea, but even those must abide by the guidelines. Likewise, inviting followers to your Twitter account is fine, but providing a gift or contest entry in return may breach the guidelines.

To review RECA’s Advertising Guidelines, click here.

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