Are you sitting there asking yourself what you should do about social media? You might be a younger person who can block-and-tackle on navigating the apps, but don’t have the real estate experience or network to generate a following. Who is going to listen to a 24-year-old, who has only canvassed nail salons, local mom-and-pop shops with only three deals under their belt, right (we’ve all been there )? Or, you might be in an older generation, have a Facebook you rarely check or don’t really know how to use, only a family Instagram (your kids are better than you at it) or you don’t even have any social media at all.
To both of those groups and even those with a modest understanding of the social media universe (which is all of us), figuring out how to grow followers, connect with influencers and build a company and/or personal brand seems to be at the epicenter of commercial real estate marketing. We believe all of this is valid—that social media will increasingly dominate CRE marketing and that technology is leveling the playing field for boutique companies, especially for those of us who are tech savvy and the younger generation.
While down in Key West doing some waterfront restaurant work, Jon and I decided to write this article. There is nothing better to fuel your creative idea flow than writing thought-pieces when surrounded by dear friends, nature, a margarita in Margaritaville and a waterfront view. We wanted to share our knowledge about this burgeoning digital wave of deliberate sniper-smartphone marketing that has the business community puzzled, enthralled, frustrated and excited about the future. We undertook this journey because we consider ourselves apprentices of identifying technological trends/opportunities and feel that social media will play a significant role in our future information arbitrage strategies. We are on a quest to find the right temple to learn Shaolin in the social media universe and I think we found our Bodhidharma in our new friend Alex Cervasio (CVAS Consulting). All of our followers will be learning a lot more about him in the next few months, especially in the Twitterverse.
We both recently read David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and it made us think of the advantages that smaller more nimble companies have in commercial real estate digital marketing. In the right hands, social media can be an agile company’s sling and stone, creating a niche where the many other companies are burdened by heavy armor (red tape in the modern world) and here are the reasons why:
Technology Leveling the Playing Field
Prior to social media and other digital marketing mediums, larger firms and private firms with unlimited resources had significant advantages in terms of reach and exposure. Large firms have always stayed prominent by sponsoring trade shows, buying large booths at RECON in Vegas, throwing lavish parties and having an entrenched referral network within their companies. In many cases, executives will choose the large national firms because they have to justify why they chose a local firm (ie., why an Archon or other boutique firm didn’t work out). But if an office such as CBLL (using a fictitious pseudonym), were to do a bad job, it was just an incompetent office and/or broker. In most cases, national firms bring great talent and resources to the table, but in today’s world, many potential leads can be touched, informed and impressed by a strong social media presence.
People like to see pictures, posts and breaking information in a timely manner. Large companies have marketing departments, approval processes and cannot post edgy or controversial content. Speaking candidly, most corporate CRE posts (written by companies not individuals) are so boring my mind goes numb and I would rather look at a cat doing a back flip off of a gorilla on Instagram. Small companies can work in real time, are nimble in the way they operate and can post whatever they want.
Lack of Creativity & Empathy
Many people are out for only financial gains, power or a combination of both. To many in the cutthroat business world, sharing knowledge with an industry competitor online would be tantamount to treason within their company. They covet intel, knowledge, money and only look out for numero uno in every situation. Those on the side of empathy understand what knowledge hungry people yearn to ingest, create content for those at all experience levels and yearn to make our industry more dynamic. It’s a unique modus operandi and it gets rewarded in the social media universe. I have certainly been impressed with what some of my colleagues (especially some younger people lately) and friends are undertaking, sharing and contributing in this uncharted cyber-frontier. One of the easiest ways to think about content is what you would like to watch on television and the break it down by genre:
Who doesn’t like to laugh? If they don’t, then they aren’t our kind of lead.
Solve an audience’s problem and be informative.
Pictures of people, networking events, philanthropic causes and more intimate and personal settings.
Sports & Competition
Entertainment for the sporting public, cool events and non-business posts for consumption.
This is what most companies do. They post self-promotional content or something they are trying to sell.
Connecting, Touching & Relationship Building
If you are proficient at connecting people without expecting anything in return, sharing knowledge and building long-term relationships, social media can be an immensely strong arrow in your business development quiver. There are numerous ways to touch old colleagues and college friends, share gestures of kindness or sympathy, advocate for worthy causes and show the circle you care about or the influencers you are targeting who you really are.
We saved connecting and relationship building for the end because it is the most personal to our company and why our team is investing significant resources into building the Archon digital brand. It’s been so much fun touching friends from college and graduate school, Collaborating with our colleagues in our nationwide site-source network, documenting and tagging all those special to us, building our helipad on April Fools, teaching the naive how to identify narcissists and sociopaths, reuniting with non CRE friends and navigating this labyrinth of smoke, mirrors, likes, views and algorithms.
In conclusion, come “Charles Barkley” strong or stay in the cave with the stubborn, uninformed and aloof that don’t see this a necessary component to their business. If you have a skeleton page that you rarely post on or a mediocre website, your potential clients will see it and competitors will even direct business contacts to half-assed, outmoded digital content. I used that tactic on an adversary when their website was outdated for eight years because it shows lack of technological knowledge, no attention to detail and is the first sign of inevitable irrelevance. We also have some close friends and mentors that really don’t understand the value of a social media presence and we are fixing that. The good news for us small-fry companies like Archon and the millennial newbies entering the market right during a correction, is that money cannot buy creativity, interesting content or an empathetic approach to sharing knowledge—that gives us boutique underdogs something to be excited about.
Would you watch a channel with all commercials?