Time is money and any successful social media campaign requires time. It is easy to point to companies like Burger King or Ford who have used social media extremely effectively – but they also have a team of “big bang theory” individuals running their social media campaigns.
Given that the majority of 18-64 year olds confirm they use some form of social media, it would be unwise to ignore social media as a potential for marketing and building on-line connections (which can lead to personal connections and deals).
For office tenant reps they should encourage their building owners to entice their tenants to post on Foursquare what they think of the building and the amenities around the building – Then as the rep for the building you should encourage prospective tenants to also check in with foursquare so their followers can see where they have been and what they think of the building. This creates a character for the building based on the building itself and location.
This “online” marketing works 24-7 as people searching out spaces to rent will look on the internet to search areas. This also helps to “brand” the building for the followers of current tenants and prospective tenants – you never know who else is looking for a space?
You can also find out things that the owner of the building might not know – such as people complaining it is hard to find (signage or clear display of address), Parking is too dark at night, etc. This allows you to look informed to your client (the owner of the building) and help them address these issues to help get tenants into the building.
CRE brokers working with developers should encourage their clients to reach out to the citizens in the area they are developing via Facebook, blogs, etc about the development; the care they are taking regarding the region, and asking for input. This involvement will decrease public anxiety about development and lead to a smoother interaction with the public.
Federal Realty Investment Trust did exactly this with their Montgomery County, Maryland development project. They reached out to the public via Facebook, blog posts and an interactive website which led to over 400 pro-development letters being sent to the town board (1).
We constantly hear that “content” drives social media marketing but according to a recent study (2) the most influential factor is the person speaking on behalf of the company (example: Steve Jobs for Apple) – therefore any CRE company should consider who is their brand ambassador and who are the influencers they wish to engage with.
Social media is simply growing too large to ignore for any CRE professional. Failure to “be on” social media will certainly make prospective clients (emerging ones who are tech savvy) wonder how you can market them if they know more than you do about an emerging marketing medium.
Is there a simple answer to using social media – no (but is there ever). As outlined above, CRE professionals can assist their clients and prospective clients with ideas of how to market their buildings and development deals by reaching out to the public directly via social media. CRE professionals who encourage their clients to use social media can help their clients learn what the perception of their building or project is –and address any negative remarks quickly and publicly…..Remember, people will be talking about your clients building or project so you either leave the “branding” of our clients assets in the hands of others or you help your clients take control of it.
To do so will set you a part from most other CRE professionals, establish yourself as a specialist, and create loyalty with your clients.
(1) Robert Krueger, Social Media and Commercial Real Estate: Epic Fail or Too Soon to Call
(2) Social EQ Study