Not so long ago, when meeting a leading commercial real estate agency in Australia, I put forward the view that social media would become of growing importance to people looking to transact commercial property.
It’s fair to say that the idea met with a frosty reception. One of the principals commented derisively, “Exactly how is this going to help me sell a ten-million-dollar property?” I responded by suggesting that you never can predict who is going to engage with social media and, at the very least, recommended the agency open a social media account to ensure that it had control of its brand in cyberspace before others moved to do so.
A few hours later, it was good to see that the advice had been taken and a Twitter account had been set up. Within a week, their followers began to mushroom, with one follower being of particular interest – the Australian Prime Minister!
The moral of the story? The beauty of social media is that it lets you engage with people you might never think would be interested in your business or services. It could be a contact of your contact who needs to lease an office and has their attention drawn to a listing you recently shared on social media; perhaps it’s an owner who has been observing your postings on recent transactions and now wants to sell their property or switch their property management business to a new agency.
If you’re a commercial broker or agent thinking of how best to use social media, following these tips may help you get started.
Firstly, in a tight market, where commercial vacancy rates are low (think London, Sydney, Hong Kong or many other cities), consider using social media to promote your distinctive listings rather than all your listings. While this may sound counter-intuitive, don’t be tempted to try and use social media to clear stock that no one else is interested in. Focusing on distinctive listings will reinforce the impression that you deal with quality stock and can quickly achieve good outcomes for tenants and owners. Don’t try and use social media as an advertising channel for everything you have. Less is more.
Secondly, use social media to share results and thereby inform your followers of market outcomes. Keeping on top of nearby commercial transactions is part of everyday due diligence that landlords undertake to stay abreast of the value of their portfolio. When it comes time to transact that asset or increase market exposure, it’s likely that they will turn to players who have a proven track of success in the locality and understand market conditions. Again, with social media, it doesn’t have to be the landlord that follows your postings, just someone in your common network of associates who is observing what you are posting and then conveys that information to the owner of the asset.
Thirdly, keep in mind the power of social media to quickly propagate a message among lots of people. Opinion pieces about local or national market trends can be used to build your profile as an informed professional capable of adding value to a transaction in the territory you service. You may not attract the attention of the Prime Minister, but you can be pleasantly surprised how far your messages can reach into modern social networks.