Don’t Bother with Social Media

by CoyDavidson on November 30, 2012

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3 Reasons CRE Brokers Should Ignore Social Media

Weekly, I get a phone call from a commercial real estate broker located somewhere in the United States, sometimes 2 or 3 contact me per week wanting to discuss my use of social media. The conversation starts something like this; “Coy, I read your blog regularly and follow you on Twitter. I am trying to decide if this social media thing is something I should do and wanted to get your thoughts” and typically this question is delivered with a trace of skepticism. Almost as if their peers have talked them off the ledge when they were about to jump and give it a try.

The conversation then progresses whereby I explain how I utilize the web, what success stories I have experienced and of course “What’s my ROI? Have I made any money (i.e. commission dollars) that I can attribute to social media? I will tell you that I can layout all the plausible reasons and make a convincing case as to why you should. First let me say, I am always willing to share my views with peers who contact me, but in the future I may just tell most CRE brokers, not to bother with social media and below are three reasons why.

Reason 1: Your skeptical

If you are skeptical to begin with, then you will be looking for reasons that social media doesn’t work rather than experimenting with the tactics and approach that gets results. I don’t recommend trying to utilize social media as a marketing tool unless you at the very least suspect that this approach will ultimately become a standard practice in business development.

Reason 2: You will do it wrong anyway

Typically when a CRE broker dips his toes in the water of social media, they will try to apply the traditional marketing and sales approach of target, push and promote that doesn’t work with social media (more on this later). The results are lackluster and they quickly give up. Your prospects aren’t reading your press releases and self promotional email blasts to begin with and they are going to be primarily ignored on social networks as well. Many sales professionals learn how to cold call more effectively often through formal training and years of trial and error experience. The art of social marketing requires education and trial and error experience as well.

Reason 3: Unrealistic expectations about a quick ROI

Since, I believe most brokers are skeptical of the value of social media to begin with and initially the only reason to even look at this new business development tool is out of fear. Yes, fear that one of the competitors has something new that provides a quick ROI. The mentality is that social media requires time and if it doesn’t produce a quick ROI, then I will just keep doing what I am doing. The problem is there is no quick ROI with social media. However, I would ask the question what traditional business development tool does provide a quick ROI? Cold calls or traditional networking groups? The only quick ROI in sales are referrals.

The Hunter and the Farmer

Most  of us have heard the analogy of the Hunter and the Farmer to characterize the type of salesperson you are. The Hunter is the person who gets their sales energy off of the “hunt” for the new opportunity. The Farmer is the sales person who builds and cultivates relationships and opportunities, often within existing accounts. The Hunter mentality doesn’t work well with social media, the Farmer mentality does.

Content Marketing vs. Social Media

Many in the commercial real estate industry have labeled me as an authority on social media and somewhat of an expert at least within my industry. I don’t really care for the “social media” label because what I really am is a content marketer. Social media is tool that I utilize to distribute my content, expand my visibility and amplify my message. I have always been a content marketer, more of a farmer than a hunter, even before the emergence of the social web.

Many commercial real estate professionals have been content marketing for years beginning with direct mail then email. Most commercial real estate brokers would prefer to market with email because they know almost every prospect they would like to target has an email address. Today, the problem with email is that everyone’s inbox is overloaded and people now utilize spam filters to thwart the onslaught of marketing messages and unsolicited communication. I get over 500 emails per day. I doubt I read over 50. I look for reasons to delete an email as opposed to read it. The concept of pulling in prospects with content is the very first concept that you must grasp in social marketing.

My Client’s and Prospects Are Not on Social Networks

Many commercial real estate professionals struggle with the fact of not knowing whether or not suitable prospects will get their message on social networks, in fact many are skeptical that their clients and ideal prospects are even using social networks. My experience tells me that a growing number of my clients and attractive prospects are now actively spending time on the social web. However, there is a far more important fact. Everyone of your clients and an infinite number of highly attractive prospects are using Google. When someone is looking for information, let’s say about commercial real estate where do you think they are going to look? When someone recommends that you are someone they should talk to about their commercial real estate needs, where will they go to learn more about you? Do you think they might Google your name or see if you have a LinkedIn profile. What if your mutual friend on Facebook recommended you?

So from now on, if you solicit my opinion on whether not you should be utilizing social media in your commercial real estate practice, my first question is going to be “Are you a content marketing farmer?”

  • Absolutely agree! Our (theBrokerList) effort has been a toe in the water approach to get our industry a simple transparent way to find one another and give folks struggling with SEO another way to be found. Even that simple concept is yet to be embraced. Skeptics are the 80% and the 20% will continue to soar using these tools correctly! That is what is always comes down to. Either you hunt of farm, and our approach is with the farmer! Great post!

  • Allen C. Buchanan

    VERY well stated!

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