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Who owns your social media? You or your boss?

Updated: Jun 2, 2019


Recently I caught up with a girlfriend for coffee and we got on chatting about "real estate" as always & social media and the impact it's having on the industry.




Not to bang on about my own socials all the time but I've done pretty well online and built a brand for myself but it hasn't always been smooth sailing. At one point it resulted in solicitors getting involved & fair trading interviews to try and have my platforms pulled from social media and take ownership of my name. It didn't work out quite the way the former employer wanted.


I was lucky though, at the time social media wasn't "a thing" and at that point I didn't have much of a profile so there was nothing really to gain on the employers side.


Fast forward about 6 or 7 years and it's a totally different story. Social media is here, it's changing the industry & we are all trying to figure out how to navigate around it. With a combined following of over 60,000 followers across my social media pages there's now something worth fighting for.


Take a franchise for instance. We all know how patches/farm areas work right?


You can promote a listing in someone else's patch but not actively work that area. So how does hashtags, checkins and all those other little ways of utilising social media come to play? So if my service area is in Potts Point but I have breakfast in Double Bay should I be able to check in to that cafe or is that breaking the rules?


Yes, it sounds silly - now, but it will come. The speed at which social media is travelling and the success agents are having online it's only a matter of time before it comes under severe scrutiny from employers and CEO's of franchises. There's no invisible lines or roads to define service areas. You can't stop a post from going viral or being shared around.


So back to the story, the topic of employment agreements came up and we were going through one and I came upon what I assume is a relatively new clause about social media.


To sum it up there's restrictions/restraints about what you can and can't do when your employment ends. Some of it is fair - no negativity about your former office online which you can understand but where it starts to get tricky is the restraints on updating your profile to your new office, can you even use these platforms after your employment ends, can content be legally enforced to be removed from your pages with your prior employers branding and just who actually owns your pages?




Seems silly doesn't it. It's your page, it's your name of course you own it. Now trust me I am in no way defending employers rights here. I want to open this up for discussion because it's something I've found fascinating since yesterday and after recently posting about this on the Real Estate Community facebook page it seems most of us are intrigued to see how this is all going to play out.


If you have created a page on company time, promoted listings, sales, images etc of the company and have used VPA to promote property on your socials do you in fact have the right to those pages. We are not talking about personal pages here. Only professional business pages such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn for the most part. We are also not referring to the recent social media explosion on the Israel Folau case on what you can and can't post. That is a totally different topic completely but one we will cover at another time.


As a result of the marketing your pages will have gained followers/likes. Basically a social media database. Instead of sending and eDM through say My Desktop or Agentbox you are sending it through a different platform so who "actually" owns your followers.


Let's get really into it and bring other agents from your office into this conversation. I've done it, you have done it, we all have done it. Praised, promoted & celebrated colleagues listings online and in turn boost our own profiles. So would it be fair to say that other agents in your office have claim to your pages and or followers?


What's the resolution? That's what we are all trying to figure out. So here's a few questions to ask yourself.


  1. Should the office have it's own page and that's it?

  2. Can an agent have their own profile and leave at a later date and continue on with their marketing under a new banner?

  3. Can the agency buy the profile off the agent for an agreed price?

  4. Are these successful profiles actually worth a $ figure & if so what is it?

  5. Can we all go on the way we are marketing ourselves with very clear guidelines & expectations should a workplace relationship end?


I guess the question is what do you think of the new clauses in the agreements and do you agree? Should an employer have these kind of rights over your socials?


We are truly fascinated by what we are seeing on social media by agents & agencies and can see that there are going to be MAJOR problems down the line.


Social media is no longer about posting what you are having for dinner it's a business, it's a database and it's only going to get bigger.


Nip this in the bud now if you are hiring/about to sign an employment agreement and know what these clauses mean and what it could mean for you down the track.


We are going to be looking into this with relevant agencies and will keep you in the loop if you would like to send us an email with your details to nic@bespokemediamanagement.com


Nic

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