Stalking clients' Facebook is fine – if done right

Despite a majority of agents claiming they would not use a new service that uses consumers' digital footprints to predict when they will sell their home, one top agent claims it’s fine as long as you’re honest about it.

Last month, parent company to RP Data CoreLogic unveiled plans for a new service that would trawl consumers' social media pages to anticipate when a client is ‘just about’ to list their property.

“We find that people signal what they're about to do, what their interests are and their personal information across social media,” said managing director of CoreLogic Information Solutions Research Olumide Soroye.

See the interview with Mr Soroye here.

“So we're finding ways to connect those insights to other things that we're doing offline.”

However, the latest straw poll from Real Estate Business shows that less than half of agents would use the service.

When asked ‘Would you use a system that tracks consumers through social media to predict when they will sell?’ 42.9 per cent of respondents said 'yes, it would be a great tool'. However, 55.8 per cent of the 163 respondents said they believed it was an invasion of privacy.

While information posted publicly on Facebook isn’t covered by privacy laws, vendors may still find it intrusive if they knew they were being surveyed.

But according to Mike Dobbin, CEO of Magain Real Estate in South Australia, so long as the agent is open about where the lead came from there shouldn’t be a problem.

“It’s all about the delivery to the client,” Mr Dobbin said. “I would definitely use a tool like this, and the agents out there who claim they wouldn’t because it breaches the trust with the consumer will just end up using it in secret.”

Mr Dobbin has featured on the Real Estate Business Top 100 Agents ranking in 2012 and 2013, as well as in the Top 50 Offices ranking in 2013.

“You’re always going to have the consumer who is not happy about you getting their information. We do a lot of cold-calling from a publicly accessible phone book, and we have some people complain," he said.

“If this service is just searching publicly accessible content, there’s nothing sinister to it.”

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