Social Media Tools: A Game Changer for Investors

AMA8-23-13Social media has forever changed how people do business. From the early days of personal blogs and Facebook accounts for chatting with family and friends, social media sites ranging from the obvious old standbys like Twitter and Facebook to more specialized professional services like LinkedIn have leveled the playing field for both business people and their clients, as reputations, behaviors and personal lives are put on display.

For entrepreneurs, social media can offer key tools to establish a personal brand and network far beyond the local area. But it can also open doors to unexpected problems, And for income property investors, creating and managing a social media presence both establishes and protects a professional identity.

Professional networks like LinkedIn can help a new investor/entrepreneur establish a nudinrdd identity that’s helpful when building a new business. LinkedIn, Google+ and other networking-oriented sites allow you to connect with an array of people in fields related to yours – other investors, real estate professionals and financial advisers, and even housing professionals such as builders and contractors.

Twitter sounds frivolous and in some ways it is – but those 140 character posts and information sharing tweets can also put you in touch with professionals in a variety of fields for learning, problem solving and just plain chatting. Twitter works fast in real time, too – widely used on mobile apps, you can stay on top of property deals, connect with lenders and find potential tenants virtually anytime.

Even that old standby Facebook can be useful. A 2012 study of social media use in real estate found that over half of home sales in that year involved the internet in some way, with social media pulling a significant share of the action. Through Facebook people find properties, refer professional services and rate the performance of providers. You can even create a Facebook page separate from your personal profile just for your investment business activities.

Social media has also changed the landlord-tenant relationship. A recent survey found that landlords are increasingly turning to social media to screen tenants. Checking a prospective tenant’s Facebook page could yield information that sends red flags. While it’s legal to do that, a landlord must be careful that there’s no violation of fair housing laws involved – for example, if you learn your prospective tenant is gay from his Facebook profile and then refuse to rent to him.

Just as property owners can check tenants out on social media, renters can also investigate prospective landlords. With sites like RateMyLandlord alongside the usual outlets and easy access to cell phone cameras and video, it’s easy for a disgruntled tenant or prospective tenant to “flame” a landlord all over he Internet. And once that genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to regain control of your reputation and your brand.

The tools of the new media offer tremendous assets for real estate entrepreneurs to do as Jason Harman recommends – get educated, take action and stay in control of the investment process. But it’s essential to tack charge of social media with a professional profile and behavior – before it takes charge of you.

Five Social Media Tips for Landlords.” Rocket Lease Blog. 8 Jan 2013.

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