When I started experimenting with Social Media tools for my commercial real estate practice over a year ago, I did expect it would raise a few eyebrows and perhaps even illicit a few snickers from my colleagues, peers and even senior management. When I decided I would experiment with social media for business purposes, one of the first things I did was research if anyone in the CRE industry was using the tools of what many considered only a fad that is “Social Media.” What I discovered was that very few were.
While I believed at the time Social Media was going to increasingly find its place in the mainstream business world, what I was really excited about was the fact that you could count on two hands people in my industry who had really adopted these tools. I saw this as a huge opportunity to differentiate myself from the pack of CRE brokers out there who all are doing exactly the same things in terms of business development and client relationship management.
Let’s face it, the CRE industry is:
- Very conservative or stuffy, pick your preference to describe it.
- Historically late adopters of new technology or even to new ideas for business practices.
CRE doesn’t understand Social Media
I believe there are several reasons CRE brokers have been slow to embrace Social Media as a tool for their business which revolve around several misconceptions that:
- Social Media is only for the younger generation
- Social Media is a fad that would quickly fade away
- Social Media is too far out of the mainstream for Commercial Real Estate
I believe there is a fear that exists among some CRE brokers as to what their colleagues and clients will think if they use Social Media for business purposes. Case in point, today most brokers do not have any apprehension joining Linkedin, because it is so widely accepted among the business community, but Twitter, Facebook and perhaps even blogging is considered too “out there”.
Social Media is Communication
The ability to effectively communicate is an essential skill for the commercial real estate broker. The most successful commercial real estate brokers or even sales people in general know how to effectively communicate with their clients, prospects, peers, vendors, partners, etc.
Social Media is just another tool or platform to communicate with people. It wasn’t all that long ago when email was a new tool and there were many who initially resisted that tool. We use our mouths, the telephone and software that creates documents and presentations to communicate our knowledge, experience and capabilities to the world, all in the effort to create new clients, keep old ones and transact real estate. Give a CRE broker the opportunity to tell someone what they know, what they have done and who they have done business with and he or she will be at no loss for words.
Communicate with Clients and Prospects without Selling
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
The first rule of content marketing is to understand that your customers only care about themselves.
- If we aren’t communicating valuable, compelling information to our customers on a consistent basis, how can they ever see us as industry experts?
- If the majority of our content is focused on our products and services, how are we solving the everyday pain points of our customers?
While content marketing is not an exclusive to Social Media, there is no tool more powerful for this approach. What other tool can you use to reach thousands of people with your message so efficiently? The real power of Social Media is the speed and breadth of its reach.
Times are Changing
Today, I see more and more CRE brokers experimenting with Social Media, but in relative terms it is a very small percentage. The business world is rapidly adopting Social Media as a tool at these days because they have realized the amount of time consumers of all demographics are spending on-line and on social media sites. I have always said that CRE brokers will show up as soon as they realize all their clients and prospects are there, or as soon as enough CRE brokers demonstrate some success with this tool.
I use Social Media to augment my entire marketing strategy. I still take my clients to lunch, play golf, ask for referrals and attend business events, but I have not seen a tool that gives me the ability to reach so many new people with my message and make new business connections as quickly and efficiently as Social Media.
For me having success with Social Media in my commercial real estate practice did not come immediately, but it is now starting to pay off in a big way. I also believe I have only scratched the surface. There is a learning curve and just like traditional networking it requires consistent effort. Social Media is not hard, it’s just hard work. While some still raise their eyebrows and maybe a few even snicker, it does not bother me. I stepped outside the box and decided to get out there. What about you? Are you ready to take the social risk?