The Tulsa Roundtable question seemed a simple one - how many commercial real estate executives actually found ways to make money using social media?
Popular conceptions suggested many older executives couldn't figure out a social media return on investment, while up-and-comers couldn't do without it. This panel was meant to test that theory. It's a mixture of building owners and brokers drawing some who entered the business before the personal computer existed, and others who grew up in the electronic age. They included:
* Bob Parker, a retail broker with GBR Properties, owner and manager of shopping centers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
* Michael Sager, a downtown Tulsa property owner best known as the developer of the Blue Dome District.
* Mike Parrish, founder of Parrish Co. Realtors, a broker and property owner.
* David Parrish, senior vice president of Parrish Co. Realtors and Mike Parrish's son.
* Brian Frere, a residential and commercial broker with Keller Williams Realty.
* Nick Probst, a broker and principal in Corporate Realty Advisors.
* Darla Knight, the Tulsa market representative for the multifamily brokerage Commercial Realty Resources Co.
* Moderator Mandy Vavrinak, president of Tulsa's Crossroads Communications, with an extensive background in social media.
Vavrinak started out with a general question over electronic media usage. David Parrish asked for her definition of social media. And that's when the preconception-bursting fun began, especially from Parker.
Vavrinak: "Most people traditionally call social media those types of services where there is interaction. So Twitter, Facebook, to some extent LinkedIn, blogs or types of forms where you give comment back and forth. In my opinion, social media would also include any place where you can touch directly your market. So it would include loops. It would include things like a drop-box account. It would include any way that you can share directly with another person. So the definition is a little watery. So let's start with do you have a website that's more than a brochure, and do you have any other presences on any kind of social media?"
Knight: "Do you include like when you do an email blast, a listing?"
Vavrinak: "There are aspects of that that are social. If it's strictly informational in nature, maybe not as much, but if you send that out with the expectation that people will take some sort of action, then yes, that would be an example of another type of social marketing."
Parker: "I use Facebook more for family and friends and then I do LinkedIn, which is definitely more professional. I always thought it was just a bunch of former Wal-Mart guys trying to stay in touch. Which is all it is. We sit around at GBR wondering, 'What's the point?' Which is I think the whole question here. Don't Twitter. Don't really even understand Twitter. I've got nothing to say that that's important that people need to hear, and I don't really care what Paris Hilton is doing, if she's taking her dog to the groomers. We do a website that is linked to LoopNet, but is what you call nothing but an online brochure at this point. They can send us an email for more information kind of a deal, but nothing more than that at this point."
Knight: "Do you find with LinkedIn that you find more of your competition asking you to link?"
Parker: "Yes. The biggest pet peeve I have on that is former Wal- Mart people asking me for referrals because they got fired from some developer somewhere. Every week I get somebody asking me to say how great they were or something. That's all I find LinkedIn to do. I don't need a job, thank God, but there seems to be at LinkedIn there's a lot of people trying to find jobs."
Vavrinak: "Is there anyone else on LinkedIn who is not having that kind of experience. …