Social Media: Changing How the Commercial Real Estate Industry Communicates

By Currin, Darren | THE JOURNAL RECORD, November 2, 2009 | Go to article overview

Social Media: Changing How the Commercial Real Estate Industry Communicates


Currin, Darren, THE JOURNAL RECORD


When commercial real estate professionals hear the term "social media" and its various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, they might typically think of it as a way for teenagers and college students to connect with each other. However, over the past three years social media has become a force that not only is changing the way individuals communicate, but also the way businesses communicate.

More importantly, it has become a new medium for corporations to expand their network of contacts while at the same time marketing their services to a whole new audience in the midst of a tough economic climate.

Even though the commercial real estate industry is notorious for being an industry that lags behind when it comes to embracing new technology, a growing number of firms in Oklahoma are utilizing social media as a way of marketing company services, communicating with others in the industry and building relationships with new and existing clients. One example is Jason Little, who recently formed Canopy Commercial Auction in Oklahoma City. Little has incorporated social media into the operations of his company primarily as a way of building new relationships and sustaining existing ones.

"We want to build a network of people that recognize our brand," Little said. "We are not using social media to sell property as an advertising method. We are instead using it to build customer loyalty and brand identity both in the brokerage and investor communities."

In addition to actively using Twitter, Facebook and a creating a company blog, Little said Canopy has also found success in using YouTube as a way to showcase professionally produced videos of its properties to investors and tenants who reside in other states. He cited the example of a video his company produced for Choctaw Plaza. Within the first 24 hours of the video being uploaded to YouTube, Canopy had more than 170 people virtually touring the property online.

"How many listing agents do you know that have had 170 people look at any deal they had in that short amount of time?" asked Little.

Phillip Jackson, chief information officer at Price Edwards & Co., believes social media is not a fad and is here to stay. As a result, Jackson is spearheading the development of a social media strategy for the company. Over the past few months, Price Edwards has created corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts and began interacting in these social media communities. The company has created a new blog, which Jackson says is one of the best tools to reach others in the commercial brokerage community.

Even though Price Edwards is in the early stages of utilizing social media, Jackson admitted that he had already found early success using Twitter for recruitment purposes and is confident that as the number of commercial real estate professionals using social media continues to increase at its current pace, it will have a tremendous effect on improving communication within the industry both locally and nationally.

"Once critical mass is reached in social media, it will be something that benefits all businesses," explained Jackson. "People are catching on in the industry and we are beginning to build that critical mass."

Like Price Edwards, Sperry Van Ness - Tim Strange & Associates is also in the early stages of developing its social media strategy. While Managing Director Tim Strange admitted the company is still learning the best ways to use social media in its business, he said the time spent working with social media will benefit the company both in the short and long term.

"The changes in the national economy are causing new challenges for our industry and social media is definitely a new platform worth exploring that may help navigate some of those challenges especially when it comes to building new relationships," said Strange. "We also want to use social media to connect and interact with the new generation of brokers and investors that are becoming increasingly active in the industry. …

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