Social networking continues to grow in popularity, connecting people with just about everything they read and buy. Nielsen released a report this week on the state of social media and found 80 percent of U.S. internet users use social media or read blogs. Commercial real estate is notoriously a “late adopter” in terms of utilizing new technology. However over the last year the industry has begun to move past the experimentation phase with social media to more wide spread adoption as the importance of an effective online media strategy has been realized.
How is the commercial real estate industry using social media?
Twitter the “Real Time” News Feed
Earlier this year based strictly on an informal observation I speculated that Twitter was the social media of choice for the commercial real estate community.
I tend to believe the popularity of twitter among commercial real estate organizations is rooted in the fact that twitter serves primarily as a “real time” news feed. The service has evolved primarily into a broadcast media platform and a powerful branding tool for both companies and individual professionals.
CRE is LinkedIn
While LinkedIn has never been a personal favorite of mine it remains an important and popular social networking platform of the commercial real estate industry. With 120 million users, LinkedIn is for business professionals what Facebook has been for consumer marketers. It’s increasingly uncommon to meet a professional contact without a LinkedIn account as the service remains focused on professional networking, and this is why it belongs in every commercial real estate professional’s social media strategy.
The Case for Facebook
I believe Facebook particularly business pages have been largely ignored by the commercial real estate industry. There are some in the commercial real estate community that believe that Facebook is not an effective social networking tool for business purposes. I believe your clients and prospects are on Facebook and the data suggests they are. I believe just because people use Facebook as primarily as a personal social network doesn’t mean their eyeballs are not making their way to your content. Facebook continues to reign supreme as the top U.S. social network with over 140 million visitors during May 2011 – nearly 3-times the audience of the #2 site Blogger.
Facebook pages have has a built-in analytics that helps you track total views, page fans and engagement with your audience.
Despite the tremendous popularity of blogs the commercial real estate community has been slow to adopt this self publishing medium. The data suggests that people are clearly reading blogs and I can only attribute the slow adoption by commercial real estate professionals to the time effort required to maintain and active blog site. I am surprised more commercial real estate brands and brokerage professionals are not taking advantage of the benefits and marketing capabilities of a blog.
The Tenant Advisor: Blog Traffic
The use of video has also been an under utilized tool by the commercial real estate industry. We are starting to see some of the larger CRE brands utilize this powerful medium. As far as individual professionals my biggest criticism has been the quality of the video and content. Duke Long has really done an excellent job with the use of video and is great example of how to use this tool as part of your marketing and social networking strategy.
Mobile adoption among social network users is an increasingly important factor. The ability to access social media is a commonly used feature among mobile owners. According to a recent study by NM Incite, a Nielsen/ McKinsey Company, nearly 2 in 5 social media users access these services from their mobile phones and half of the U.S. population is projected to own a smartphone by the end 2011. In addition, with the growing popularity of iPad’s and similar tablet devices making your sites mobile-friendly, while adding easily shared and viewed content such as video, will be a critical factor for CRE social marketing going forward.
What about Google Plus?
This is Google’s latest entry into the social networking scene. Google+ is still in beta and appears to be popular among the tech community and early social media adopter. However, I describe Google Plus as like a hit country music song, “great at first and kind of catchy, then it gets boring really fast.” Currently, Google+ does not allow business accounts but this feature is expected to roll out by year-end and at that point we may see a more substantial business and commercial real estate community evolve on this network. I would also note that since the G+ network is from Google the dominant internet search engine, it might become a “must do” for SEO purposes.