Real estate marketing is all about selling a lifestyle. It's about helping buyers see themselves living or working in a particular space — or showing investors how others can. Properties are sold by showcasing an experience and aligning it with a prospective buyer's goals, aspirations and specific needs or requirements.Social media has tremendous possibilities in this regard. While residential real estate marketers have dialed up their social media efforts, commercial real estate continues to under-leverage this powerful channel.
Turning your attention to social media means getting more attention for your CRE brand and its properties. Here's why.
Tapping into Millennials Means Tapping into Big Business
Marketing has shifted away from the traditional "push" approaches beloved by real estate - and this includes in the commercial world. Consumers want ownership over advertising. They want authentic experiences, real connections and a targeted campaign that clearly gets them. This is increasingly true of commercial real estate marketing.
Why? Because Millennials are climbing the career ladder. They're rising to positions of influence, and with that comes certain expectations about a workspace. Square footage and location are just the beginning. Millennials value particular workspaces, flexible working options and amenities such as car parking, dining and fitness. These are all lifestyle offerings that form part of today's employment contracts - and employee expectations.
Social Media is a Conversation, Not a Speech.
But Millennials don't want to be reached by the old-school EDMs and brochures. They value marketing that speaks their own, lifestyle-centric language. If you want to reach a Millennial, social media is the place to do it. Millennials are voracious social media users, and commercial real estate marketers with a strong social media presence have increased access to these users.
By developing a visually rich, textured social media narrative that showcases an approach aligned with this segment's needs, marketers can build trusted connections.
Social media is inherently an "opt in" type of marketing approach. Consumers who follow a real estate marketer or property offering's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest account do so because what you have to say resonates to the audience they're appealing to. And unlike traditional marketing channels they're also able to interact with your offerings via likes, comments, shares, private messages and the coveted click to your offerings website. With social media, marketing has become a two-way communication channel.
We're All Social, but Not All Social is Equal
There are dozens of social media platforms out there, each with its own particular segment of users and fans. But not all platforms are going to resonate with the decision-makers in commercial real estate. So cross off Twitch, Snapchat and probably Tumblr, too. Below are some of the platforms that can get your firm or your offering noticed — but remember that a cross-platform approach can amplify your reach.
This image-heavy platform is a winner when it comes to capitalizing on the lifestyle-centric elements of an offering. It's ideal for interior shots, aspirational snaps and even brand-building via educational or informational posts. Mega-firm CBRE has been using it to great success - and in part because so few others are.
Geared towards the professional set, LinkedIn is a great way to target decision-makers and build brand cachet. With the ability to upload videos, images and long-form posts - as well as ads - it's an ideal place for positioning your company as a thought leader. Some commercial real estate firms also use it to highlight awards, charity events and major wins and developments.
A huge user base and a powerful advertising platform make Facebook a must have for connecting users with your brand or your offering. Create a page for your company and your properties, and post valuable, engaging updates. You can also invite users to connect with you via chat - delivering a real-time, tailored response.
Micro-messaging platform Twitter has a powerful base of business influencers, decision-makers and CRE journalists. It's an ideal place for sharing breaking news or networking in real time. Plus its #hashtag search functionality helping to connect relevant information and promote virality.
A visual diary of themed "pinboards", Pinterest is a platform for curating and sharing niche image content. It's highly searchable via Google Image Search, giving you a powerful SEO boost, and promotes virality via its image "repinning" functionality.
Embeddable and shareable, YouTube is a powerful platform for sharing marketing videos including interior shots, virtual tours and lifestyle pieces. It also helps put a "real person" behind a brand, making it a valuable tool for sharing messaging and insights.
Social media is about people. Here's how the best in CRE are doing it.
Instagram - CBRE. Global commercial marketing powerhouse CBRE has seen an incredible increase in engagement since revamping its social efforts to reflect its brand ethos in an interactive, conversational manner. Striking shots of buildings within their city contexts are appended with in-depth captions that inform their audience and build engagement. "Office" shots are also used to help humanize the brand and draw interest.
Instagram - Real Estate Arts. New York-based real estate marketing design firm Real Estate Arts uses Instagram as a gallery showing its exquisite branding identities, awards, campaign snippets and on-brand quotes. It's a beautiful, uncluttered feed that highlights the quality of the company's work - and is designed to reach designer, clients and tenants alike. It's a relatively small, new page, but one that shows that social media doesn't have to be ephemeral or "less than".
Twitter - Cushman & Wakefield. With 62k followers, CRE firm Cushman & Wakefield is doing it right. Its multiple daily updates fall into different content buckets - expert opinion, breaking news, company announcements and market reports. Images are added throughout for increased visibility and engagement. The outcome is a varied, interesting feed.
Twitter - Bedrock Detroit. Relevance can trump reach. This Detroit-based CRE company focuses on the redevelopment of urban cores, and its feed reflects this. Heavy with images, hashtags and news items, it shares valuable information while showing a deep love for its home city.
LinkedIn - CBRE. Yes, they're back again. Along with a powerful company page, CBRE has a series of LinkedIn ads running at any given time. It also runs the Urban Photographer of the Year competition as a way to boost visibility. By creating an inMail campaign to target photographers on the site, it was able to increase entries by 41%. And no doubt engagement and visibility as well.
Facebook - Transwestern. It was a bit of a challenge to find CRE companies utilizing Facebook not just well, but at all. The strongest out of the bunch in our opinion is Transwestern who understands the laid back nature of Facebook as a social platform. It uses the platform to share the latest news and events within their company while also giving behind-the-scenes snapshots of their company culture.
It's Time to Add Some Social to Your CRE.
Stepping up your social media game is critical in commercial real estate. Social media connects you with consumers on their terms, creating authentic experiences and multi-directional interactions.
A social media approach that goes to where your target audience is helps build your brand, grow your network - and drive interest in your products and services. If you've fallen prey to thinking that social media is the heartland of residential real estate, it's time to reconsider - before everyone else does.