Getting Started in Social Media: 5 Top Tips for Commercial Real Estate Executives

Commercial real estate social media is a wild frontier – and its pioneers are saddled with heavy wagons of late technology adopters.  This makes for a slow trip over the Rockies for commercial real estate social media pioneers – people like Leopardo’s Todd Andrlik,   Retail Traffic editor David Bodamer and commercial real estate deal junkie and publisher Jay Rickey.

Social media today represents a parallel to the commercial real estate industry’s slow embrace of email in the 1990’s:  late to start, but critical mass builds on a steep curve.

Remember the first person in your real estate company to sign up for an email address?  I do – and it was me, in 1995. But my former coworkers from that office and industrial development company who resisted email and “that Google thing” are now Blackberry addicts.  They are also the social media users of the future, and I have no doubt they’ll make money doing it.

National Real Estate Investor, the Wall Street Journal and titans of the industry are already blogging, tweeting and linking.   Case in point:  the full service commercial real estate service firms like CB Richard Ellis, Jones Lang LaSalle and Cushman & Wakefield are all embracing social media in various forms, and the industry’s many entrepreneurs have formed communities online via LinkedIn, Twitter and even in some cases Facebook.

On this blog, we have already discussed how banks are handling social media and the impact of the guidelines recently issued by FINRA. These guidelines are relevant to many in the commercial real estate finance corner of this industry.  We’ve also blogged about social media tips for wealth managers – many of whom advise on real estate investments.

Below we offer 5 suggestions on how commercial real estate executives can start to engage in social media:

1) LinkedIn Engagement  

Hands-down, there is more engagement in the commercial real estate industry on LinkedIn than in any other social media forum.  Join it.  Link to everyone you can.  Work it like an ICSC cocktail party, but with less small talk.  Once you’re connected, join groups and participate in the discussions. Post comments and recommend people you like and respect.

Rule of thumb: You’re a successful networker, or you wouldn’t be in commercial real estate.  Take it online, and take it up a notch.

2) Commercial Real Estate Blogs

The Wall Street Journal blogs are among the most popular and user-friendly blogs out there, and they offer one of the most widely-read blogs in the industry. The Developments blog focuses on trends and deals of national interest alike, for example.  Get started by reading the blog regularly, following the links they offer to find additional blogs of interest, then maybe begin making comments online.  To find blogs germane to your sector and business goals, look at your regular sources of news and networking:  industry associations like CoreNet Global, ICSC, NAIOP and trade publications like Commercial Property Executive, France Publications and others.  Company blogs, such as the AlterNOW blog, can also provide timely interpretations that provide a strong perspective and point of view on issues important to this industry.

Rule of thumb:  If you read it or join it, look for its blog, then read it and share it.

3) Webcasts/Podcasts

Many commercial real estate firms offer a variety of informative materials (in some cases Thought Leadership) presented to clients or potential deal partners on a regular basis. It comes in a wide range of forms including market information, road shows, economic commentary, private event presentations or articles on commercial real estate trends.  This can all be repackaged as webcasts, podcasts or other social media friendly materials. For example, you can produce short commercial real estate market commentary segments, or host a Q&A session on upcoming trends and recent transactions.

Rule of thumb:  If you used marketing dollars to create a traditional marketing or thought leadership piece, get more for your money by making it social, interactive and online.

4) Social Media Press Releases

Social Media Press Releases (SMPRs) are optimized press releases that can include video segments, pictures and links to further information. Because of the extra information they can provide, many view them as more of a resource than a promotion. You can include videos of interviews with key spokespeople, links to other data in a particular area, or previous pieces you have published.  Excellent for deal announcements where you still need to lease space in the remainder of the building, think about adding a video of finished space – and  also possibly video of the space that new tenants could visualize becoming their own.  For some video examples, check out the Leopardo Construction YouTube Channel.

Rule of thumb:  Add interactivity wherever you can – no more text-only announcements.

5) Twitter

Everyone jokes about “tweeting” and there are legitimate questions about current engagement in Twitter amongst high profile commercial real estate decision-makers.  But cynics be warned:  your competitors are signing up.  Do you want to be the last one there?   A recent article from Inc.com gives tips on how people can use social media outlets, such as Twitter to their advantage in attracting and engaging with new customers.  Give it a read – and I’ll see you in the Twitterverse (@margysweeney).

Rule of thumb:  Sign up, follow people and firms you respect, and engagement will follow down the line.

Are you still curious how to reach your commercial real estate clients in social media?  I suggest you ask them – and be prepared to receive lots of LinkedIn requests and new Twitter followers.

What is your commercial real estate firm doing to embrace social media?

To contact Margy Sweeney:

Phone:  312-252-7314
Email: margy@blisspr.com
Twitter: @margysweeney
LinkedIn: Margy Sweeney