3 Reasons CRE doesn’t do social media

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.

18 thoughts on “3 Reasons CRE doesn’t do social media

  1. Hi Matt,

    Good points! It is no different from anything new we need to learn. It takes time and effort, and many cre people work on commission so they have to focus on the dollars that will put food on their tables. When they think about social media, the word “social” conjures up thoughts of facebook and other gossip type portals or time sinks.

    We need to stop using the term social media. To me what we are doing is virtual networking. Like twitter or LinkedIn or Google+ (if they make it), etc. it is virtual networking, NOT social media, per se. Those sites, and online tools like theBrokerList, are business tools that integrate virtual networking tools.

    For those of us that use twitter, we are using it for business or marketing our business or properties. Our entire goal is get leads and network and be out there and build a brand. This is not social fun, but it is doing business with twitter as one tool for example. When we use twitter at theBrokerList, for example, our team thinks of this as a virtual chamber of commerce meeting or virtual luncheon. When you are sharing people’s tweets (retweets) is like meeting a colleague and sharing their business card. When we look for great products or service providers for our tBL Marketplace, we are making contacts! Our focus is brand awareness and B2B outreach. Can it be fun, yes, but so can all we do at the physical chamber of commerce meeting or industry lunch!! It is no different.

    This is the virtual world we now live in. It is no longer physical, but it is not a social function, in the term that our industry views the word social. We should start to use virtual cre networking as our new term so cre people will understand it is about B2B outreach, canvassing, networking and building a brand online. Maybe all of us that blog should start saying virtual cre networking or something, because social media is over used and not appropriate for cre.

    Matt, we would love to give you a private demo of the theBrokerList. We know you are on the list, but we think a private demo would be great since you really have not exploited all you can do with our site! As a cre blogger and early adopter, we would be so interested to see how you craft your pitch and profile. We are html friendly and most folks are not taking advantage of that! Some of our team members may have tried to reach you before, but we never connected!! Thanks for writing this great blog post.

    Thanks,
    ~theBrokerList Team

    • Hey BrokerList, thanks for reading and responding. I think that you are on to something with the idea that the word “social” is a little scary for some folks, especially the more senior people in the industry. I think that education around the subject in the industry can be significantly improved.

      Feel free to email me at matthew.giffune@gmail.com to tak about the beta.

    • Virtual networking is much more appropo to what is needed in CRE versus the unfortunate perceived notion that SM only about socializing. Large companies that have felt the sting of unhappy customers using SM to vent have learned how to use SM as a dialogue tool as well as a marketing and lead capture tool. As new technology starts to phase out existing email formats, old school CRE brokers are going to have a steep learning curve to get caught up. Those that understand how to use twitter, blogging, professional networking site (like linkedin and fB’s branchout), craigslist (or the like) and mobile based application will be better prepared to relate and network with the new generation of business owners that enter the CRE market.

    • Thanks Link! The CRE industry is certainly changing. Technology, market forces, and global economic trends are going to impact the way we do business. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  2. Matt excellent article and spot on. As my partner says to me all the time, that is why I started a training company. Old school is not dead, but new school needs to be adopted, although the longer the dinos go without adopting SM, the better the competitive edge for those that do.

  3. Good stuff, Matt – exposing some of the barriers. Asking ourselves “why not” when faced with choices opens up new possibilities. I appreciated your “how I use…” each application in your presentation – good angle. Best to you, Barbi

  4. I think for many the social media is a time black hole. We are all pressed to invest our time in the most efficient manner to earn a living. Many avoid social media, because its hard to understand how to utilize the time appropriately to make it a worthy investment of time. Those of us that have been fortunate enough to make money from our social media endeavors get “it”, but I do have to admit that I was skeptical when I began and had to learn how to use it efficiently. Not easy.

  5. Great article.. I’ve tweeted it to the UK CRE world.
    The change in the term from ‘social’ to a more widely understood/ valued business term, would immediately turn CRE professionals on rather than off. More examples and case studies of successful application of social media I think will be key to winning over sceptics.

  6. Just excellent! Your examples are strongly convincing and illustrative, which effectively highlights your viewpoints. Plus, the powerpoint above is definitely concrete, transparent and efficient. Great thoughts. Thanks, Matt!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s