Answering the Social Media Question… Sort of

by CoyDavidson on February 9, 2018

How Much Money Have You Made with Social Media?

I have thought about publishing this post for a long time and in the past have opted out for a few different reasons.

Since I am a prolific user of social media for business purposes, one question that I get often is “have you made any money off of your social media efforts in commercial real estate?” That question always centers around a question they are asking themselves, “should I be doing this?” So they call me.

Of course, the answer is yes, and the second question is always how much have you made?  The ROI question. The truth is I have never totaled it all up. Maybe I will do that someday.

“Social Media is marketing and the purpose is to get you in front of people, so you can ask for their business.” This quote is from my friend Ken Ashley with Cushman & Wakefield in Atlanta. Ken gets it!

Social media has done just that for me, and it has generated a ton of new opportunities, that turned into clients and ultimately resulted in transactions and commission dollars. There have been a lot of these transactions on the smaller side but not all of them. Most of the commission fees generated have been in the $5-$20K range, but there have been several in the $20-$50K range and occasionally a larger opportunity surfaces.

So How Does it Happen?

In late 2014, I was contacted by a publicly traded NYSE company who was contemplating a headquarter relocation and while researching office rents in major Texas cities online stumbled upon my blog. The Chief Operating Officer called me and asked if I would come visit with them about my services. They retained me, and in 2015 I completed a headquarters relocation for this client. This was a $9.8 million-dollar lease transaction. You can do the commission math if you are in commercial real estate.

Today this very client, called me with another significant assignment on their behalf, a disposition of one of their multiple operating facilities that is no longer needed. This client would have never reached out to me again if they were not happy with their previous experience with my services, but the point is I never would have done business with them in the first place, if they had not discovered me online and I might not have ever written this blog post. I decided it was time to answer the question, sort of.

Other Examples

I have had numerous referrals from my Colliers colleagues around the country who I have never met “face-to-face” but knew who I was  because of my online presence or what about the brokers from other firms whose company did not have an office in Houston and decided to call me because I had credibility from my web and social media presence and decided I was the right guy to call.

I can’t put a dollar figure on all the interview requests from the major commercial real estate publications. I know it greatly enhanced my visibility as I went from being a commercial real estate professional known only in Houston to a recognizable name around the country in my industry. I am just a slightly geeky,  somewhat introvert from Houston, Texas who happens to be pretty damn good at what I do. I started my social media initiative over 9 years ago, because I recognized half the battle was educating potential customers as to who I am and what I do for a living and my hunch was the internet could be a powerful tool. I certainly would not have been featured in a book about commercial real estate brokers.

So, will a social media effort pay off? The answer is if it is well executed, then it is a good marketing, and if it puts you in front of people and you can ask for business, it will absolutely pay off.

I still do “old school” business development, but the social media effort has been a nice complimentary marketing approach. After, 27 years in the commercial real estate business I get a lot of referrals, that have nothing to do with social media, but I promise you this, if you meet someone at a networking event, or even if they are a referral from a client, friend or industry peer, the first thing that person is going to do is “Google” you and if your online presence is impressive, it will greatly compliment your sales effort.

When I first started writing about social media and commercial real estate nine years ago, finding anyone in commercial real estate with a blog or a twitter account was a challenge. Today every major CRE firm has a blog, twitter account, facebook page, instagram profile and LinkedIn page and they now employ people to handle their content marketing and social medial initiatives.

Their are hundreds of hugely successful commercial real estate brokers that have never posted anything on social media other than pictures of their pets or family vacations and have made their success in more traditional ways. The internet and social media has changed the way consumers buy goods and services whether its B2B or B2C. So if I was a young commercial real estate broker or anyone who plans on doing it for the next 20 years, I would not be asking the “Have you made any money question”, it is something you should probably do.

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