In this third and final installment of Digital Marketing for Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, we will look at how to use Social Media in your marketing and branding efforts. Many people don’t realize how many social media outlets exist on the web. Of course everyone is familiar with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But there are actually hundreds if not thousands of sites that can be defined as social media sites. Perhaps you have also heard of Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram? But what about DeviantART with over 22 million registered users, Flixter with over 63 million registered users or Netlog with 95 million registered users?(*stats taken from Wikipedia “List of Social Networking Sites”) The concept of social media has permeated our culture and our lives to the extent that we consider them our digital communities. As with most things on the Internet, you will have to filter through the massive jungle of noise to find the social media outlets that will be most effective for your intended purpose, which in this case is marketing and branding for your commercial real estate brokerage business.
Certainly the social media site that has emerged as the premier source for business networking is LinkedIn. LinkedIn like most social media sites is free to join but they also offer a Premium account that gives you a deeper set of data and more flexibility. Having a well presented profile on LinkedIn is becoming almost crucial in the world of business networking. I know that when I am interviewing for new agents or other key personnel, one of the first things I do before meeting them is pull up their LinkedIn profile so that I can get a flavor for how they perceive themselves and what they have done in their career. The LinkedIn profile almost serves as a sort of online resume or “About Me” page. Of course, connecting with people you want to do business with is one of the primary benefits of utilizing LinkedIn. It is easy to search by company, keywords and geography when seeking out people to connect with. Once connected, you generally have specific contact information and you are able to communicate directly with your new contact. Be very selective in whom you connect with and once you start to build your network, be professional about your approach to communicating with people. Remember that using social media as well as other forms of digital marketing creates your brand and image for all the world to see.
Linkedin also offers Groups or communities of like minded individuals. These Groups are moderated and can be very specific to a particular topic. Go into LinkedIn Groups and search the key phrase Commercial Real Estate. You will see that you have no shortage of choices for groups to join no matter how narrow the niche you may be focused on. As with your personal Network, Group members are able to communicate with each other either directly or through Group discussions. This can be an excellent avenue for presenting new listings or showcasing your services. Just be professional about it and no matter what, DON’T SPAM! Frequency of communication is also a sensitive issue when using LinkedIn so don’t post something new 3 times a day. Contribute occasionally to the conversation and present your offerings with integrity to make the most of this medium.
Facebook has become iconic and an integral part of our day to day lives. While Facebook is not as business focused as LinkedIn, they do allow you to create a business page which can bolster your brand and give you another marketing avenue to reach a targeted audience. It is quite easy to create a Facebook Business Page and after you have obtained at least 25 “Likes” or people who have opted to follow your page, you can create your own Facebook Business Web Address similar to your own website. You can post anything you’d like on your Facebook Page including photos and even video. You can also post other articles to bring interesting content to your follows. You can link to your website and your blog to further promote your expertise in the commercial real estate industry. Facebook also makes it easy to search for related businesses and individuals that you can connect with. Just like LinkedIn, Facebook also offers groups although not quite as robust or business focused.
Twitter is probably the least effective social media source for commercial real estate brokerage professionals but it is worth discussing nonetheless. Similar to other social media sites, Twitter allows you to search for like-minded individuals within commercial real estate, follow them and possibly have them follow you. You can also “tweet” photos and video links to your followers. The issue for commercial real estate professionals is that Twitter limits your message to 140 characters and tends to have a very limited shelf life. Someone with thousands of follows has a twitter feed that virtually scrolls with tweets on a second by second basis. While people can find your message by using “hashtags”, which is the attachment of the # symbol to a word or phrase such as #commercialrealestate, for the most part the message goes out and only gets attention for a short period of time.
The downside to utilizing social media as a serious part of your marketing and branding strategy is that it can be very time consuming. For some it is almost an addiction but that is a subject for another post. Another effective use of social media for commercial real estate marketing and branding is paid advertising. While the methods for utilizing social media described above are free, paid advertising on social media sites can be very cost effective. The advertising offered on social media sites as well as search engines such as Google and Bing is very targeted, using specific key words and phrases to put your message in front of people who have expressly stated an interest in the topic you are advertising. Unlike traditional advertising that shotguns your message to a very wide audience who may or may not have an interest, the advertising that you can purchase through social media sites is priced based on each click, impression or action that the viewer engages in. Each social media site can provide further information on how to advertise with them.
The strategies described in this 3 part blog post series barely scratch the surface of opportunities to market and brand your commercial real estate business on the Internet. The best way to start is to simply create your online presence so that you can incorporate it into your interactions with prospects and clients. Create your website. Start Blogging. Create a LinkedIn Profile and join some Groups. Setup a Facebook Page and start asking people to “Like” it so you can generate your individualized internet address. Spend a few bucks on some ads. Incorporate some digital marketing into your commercial real estate brokerage business and you can bolster your personal and professional image and expand your sphere of contacts faster than ever before.