Social Media and Commercial Real Estate
Social Media has created a significant shift in how we communicate with one another. It has become a digital equalizer; small and large companies alike can build their brands, grow and expand their businesses and connect with their clients online via social media outlets. Traditional marketing involved identifying a target market, crafting a compelling message and “pushing” it out via channels that would reach only a specific audience. Typical strategies included advertising, commercials, brochures, direct mail, billboards, and flyers. But brands must now figure out how to “pull” clients and customers to relevant content instead of “pushing” content to them. The entire communication landscape has changed from a “pushing” to a “pulling” of client and customer’s attention. Now, users who are interested in a company or a brand can subscribe to its email-blasts, read its blog(s), “friend” it on Facebook, follow it on “Twitter” and so forth. The brand’s content is thus organically “pulling” clients and consumers toward it rather than “pushing” branding, marketing, and advertising to them. The new challenge is for companies is to produce, craft, and curate relevant, interesting, easily-accessible content that their clients find useful.
Yes, historically the commercial real estate industry has relied on long-standing methods such as in-person networking, email, and face-to-face interaction. However, in order for you to get that face-time, and no, we’re not talking about the iPhone capability, you need to have a connection. Sales calls used to be the way to start the conversation but today, the conversation can truly start on social media. Commercial real estate brokers and companies are slowly shedding their aversions to social media platforms and are engaging more frequently and consistently in online marketing, information gathering, and client building via social media, in hopes that one day it will lead to deals and dollars. But, keep in mind that social media is not the place to sell; it’s the place to market yourself and your brand, and to closely connect with the community around you. Always remember that your reputation is your brand. Social media should be seen as an inroad to establishing new online relationships and as a bridge to building offline relationships.
There are four main social media platforms that will contribute to your brand awareness and client relationships: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging.
Launched in 2003 as a business-oriented social media platform, LinkedIn currently has more than 300 million members across more than 200 countries, making it the largest online professional networking website. Executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies have profiles on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been referred to as a “live Rolodex,” brand builder, professional database, personalized marketing platform and social networking channel. LinkedIn gives companies and individuals the ability to build a digital brand by demonstrating expertise, experience and talent through their posts and connections. On LinkedIn your profile becomes a showcase for your professional expertise. You can post links to articles or blogs you’ve written, relevant news stories, and other articles that bring value to your clients. LinkedIn is also a valuable research tool. Researching someone via LinkedIn often unveils a wealth of information that could assist you in rapport building and connection making – it is the easy pass of information.
Launched in 2006, Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging site that enables users to send and read tweets that are limited to 140 characters each, allowing a connection with companies and individuals that are outside of their network to further expand their brand’s awareness. Currently, more than 200 million registered users post more than 400 million tweets per day! For commercial real estate usage, these tweets can be links to industry news or local happenings affecting the real estate markets. But in order for your Twitter to gain traction and be useful to growing your brand, tweets must be current, relevant, and interesting. Also very important to note, Twitter has also demonstrated the highest capacity for driving traffic directly to websites.
Started in 2004 as a closed online community for college students, Facebook now has over 1.15 billion users. While many see Facebook as the most personal, used to share family pictures or updates with friends, the lines between the personal and the professional have blurred, especially in commercial real estate, an industry built on networking and relationship building. More than 400 of Fortunate 500 companies have corporate Facebook pages. Also, because Facebook posts can be longer, it has also become an effective way to share information, especially with the use of Pages, which is Facebook’s way of helping you to create your own personal company or brand awareness.
A blog is a website designed to facilitate self-publishing with an interactive element. The intent of a blog is sharing information and conversing by either crafting original content or curating existing content. The United States currently has over 42 million blogs. Because of all the at-your-fingertips information via social media platforms, we sometimes experience an overload of marketing and online messaging and find ourselves searching for one specific place that we can find compelling and relevant content without all of the chatter; blogs can offer that specific filtered content. However, blogging does take an ongoing commitment and the largest investment of time out of the four social media platforms discussed in this article, but when blogging is done right, can position you to become the Subject Matter Expert (SME), or the go-to thought-leader in your area of expertise.