I recently returned from Scottsdale, Arizona where I spoke to hundreds of my colleagues about using social media for sales. By far, the most overwhelming theme of our conference was the use of technology to accelerate sales efforts and contribute to the success of clients. I was excited about this, as the CRE industry needs to start embracing new media and tech, just like every other industry already has. But I am not convinced people really understand the most obvious sales tool for our business – social media marketing. Candidly, I think that most commercial real estate brokers hide behind the industry to avoid embracing social media. They say things like “isn’t twitter for kids and celebrities,” or “doesn’t it take a lot of time,” or “can you honestly tell me one meeting you have gotten from tweeting?” These are all short for, “I’m really, really afraid of change, and I don’t want people to think I am stupid, and I don’t like being uncomfortable, and I just want things to happen how they are supposed to happen, and I want to rely on my senior partners for business, or I like finding business at my club.”
Ok, that’s a little harsh, but its true for a large portion of the CRE population. I do believe however, that there are CRE people out there that see the value in social media tools, and understand that the ROI is not always calculated by leases and commissions but by awareness, social proof and thought leadership. You cannot have a great brand, personal or corporate, without these things. Long and short, I think CRE brokers have a lot to learn about effective use of social media tools for sales. We are just scratching the surface.
I use the presentation above to give CRE brokers a little of the why social media is relevant, as well as the how I use social media. I have my own guidelines, use my own set of rules and tools, and do what feels right to me. So don’t feel like I am giving you a lecture, use my presentation as a reference point for your own social media strategy.
So here are the three reasons why CRE brokers won’t embrace social media:
1) CRE sales channels are old school – cold calling, canvassing, leasing signs, mailers, email blasts, “networking,” hunting, playing golf. You name it, we do it. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good things, and arguably necessary. It’s just that, they are all becoming less important. The internet, especially search engines, are where things are found these days. I was speaking with an entrepreneur today who just leased 6,000 SF of space in Boston off of Craigslist. The broker that put his listing on Craigslist won because he benefited from inbound marketing. There are over 2 billion people on the internet. Lots of them are on twitter, facebook, linkedin, blogs. So…do all the things that are arguably necessary, add social media to the mix, and dominate.
2) $$$ – leasing commissions are too high. Yes, I realize that’s how I make a living, but sometimes you can trip over a deal and make enough to buy that house in the burbs. Or, you can work really, really hard and get the same result. It’s difficult to measure a real estate broker’s ROI in terms of time spent working. So the mentality for too many brokers becomes hang around the net long enough, work hard here and there, maybe get lucky, and you will be rewarded. Social media is too bleeding edge for this way of thinking. It involves being yourself, testing the limits of what’s acceptable in business, and showing vulnerability – not being a company man. Far be it for me to suggest this might aid in your path to success, and in the process make you feel like more of an individual.
3) You don’t know what you don’t know – remember that time you first got behind the wheel of a car? You knew that what you were doing was something that you were going to have to learn, but it was really, really uncomfortable. That’s embracing social media. Until you take a few spins around the neighborhood, you will never know how cool it feels to cruise by and pick up some friends for the ride. Every instance of growth in life entails getting outside your comfort zone. Until you do, you will not see any benefit.
Let me know what you think of my post. Seriously. Do it. Also, let me know if you need help getting off the ground with social media for CRE.