As 2012 approaches, I find myself looking back at the benefits that social media has brought to my commercial real estate practice over the last two years. I can say without question that it has re-energized my business, greatly expanded my visibility in the marketplace both locally and nationally and produced new business relationships that ultimately turned into deals and income (ROI).
However, I also at the same time find myself feeling the need to retool as the social media landscapes changes particularly as it relates to the business and the CRE community. Everything that has worked over the last two years isn’t necessarily going to be effective going forward and I am feeling a sense of urgency to rethink my strategy in order to take my initiatives to a whole new level.
When I started my efforts just over two years ago the prospect of “standing out” at least among CRE professionals was pretty much a “slam dunk” because basically nobody in the industry was engaged heavily in social media. Over time this has changed as more and more CRE professionals realize the importance of developing a credible and relevant social media presence. The increasing adoption of and participation in social media is leading to a less pleasant signal-to-noise ratio both for business and professional information. The result is that what once appeared “real time’ in nature, now like noise in a crowded room.
How Do You Stand Out in a Noisy Room?
The trend towards better content filters is upon us and the importance of vetted data will grow as people realize that managing their information streams requires streamlining to only the most impactful and relevant. Choosing to follow someone or vice versa, whether we know them personally or not will be based on the trust in their ability to pass on the most relevant and useful information.
Today, everyone can play the content marketing game because advances in technology and the proliferation of social networks have made it cost-effective, simpler and fast. Social will shift from a primary focus on content creation and publication to include more monitoring and measuring response. I see the ultimate goal of social media is to become the “go-to” source of all relevant information within your niche and becoming an effective content curator will play as important of a role as content creation. Today, when people need information they “google” it, but today with so much content online they will be looking for sources they can trust as accurate and credible and social media will play a key role in that process. Google and other search engines will keep adjusting their algorithms to take account of content shared on Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. This means it’s more critical than ever for CRE professionals to jump into the social space and start creating a real online identity by sharing content your clients care about.
Personal and Business Converge
I believe people look to do business with people they trust, like and that have credibility. Transparency will become more of a recurring theme. People are starting to become more comfortable with sharing opinions, preferences and information and less concerned with protecting information. Most importantly, business and personal lives will continue to converge. I believe social will become less media with an increased focus on the “human relationship”. People are becoming much more open to initiating new relationships both personal and business online and I believe that social media is increasingly becoming part of the sales process. I have no doubt that clients and prospects are spending significant amounts of time online, but the challenge will be finding the effective tools and method to engage them. Engagement is going to be a key performance indicator with so many platforms available to users. Just showing up on the social networks is not going to guarantee any level of engagement going forward.
I still believe ultimately a telephone and/or “face to face” meeting is the ultimate engagement tool and is required to be hired for a commercial real estate assignment, but also believe your online presence will play an increasing important role in accessing new potential clients. However, what has worked in for the past couple of years with social media and commercial real estate will need some refinement for 2012. I don’t plan on the “status quo”.