Building Presence: Can Social Media Engagement Boost The CRE Value Proposition?

Using social media to close real estate deals isn’t a new idea. For a while now, building up a social media presence and ongoing relationships with actual and prospective clients has been a mainstay of the residential real estate sector, as evidenced by a recent National Association of Realtors report.

In the context of residential, social media was voted one of the top lead-generating tools that realtors are using to find clients, with around 49% of professionals surveyed saying they use social media platforms to promote listings and build relationships with clients.

As any commercial real estate (CRE) professional knows, however, closing deals in the commercial sector is a very different prospect from selling homes. So, how much value do these technologies add to the CRE toolbox, and should we be focusing more on social media strategies?

Marketing trends

As a marketing tool in general, social media has been on an increasing trend for multiple years. More businesses are finding ways to incorporate social media strategies into their day-to-day operations and the importance of a well-designed social media campaign shouldn’t be underestimated.

And, as NAIOP pointed out last year, the demographics of business decision-making are shifting, as millennials, who are social media natives, start to take the reins in the business world. What this means for CRE is that, to drive engagement with CRE brands and services, it’s important to consider how the people we’re targeting consume media. And more importantly, why they consume it.

A common issue many businesses run into when starting a social media campaign is that there isn’t an immediate return on investment (ROI). In many cases, however, this can be traced back to the type of content those businesses post.

A CRE firm that only posts deals or listings, without actually engaging the prospective audience or adding any other value, probably won’t garner a lot of interest. This can lead to frustrating engagements with social media platforms, where the true value remains untapped, and pursuing a social media strategy seems like a waste of effort or money, when it’s often just a case of pursuing the wrong targets.

Tracking the right key performance indicators (KPIs)

For social media to work in the CRE context, it’s important to realise first and foremost that a lot of the KPIs that should be tracked are initially non-revenue-generating.

This can include the engagement rate, in other words how many people are interacting with a post, and the connections that are being made as a result. And while these metrics don’t convert into immediate ROI, its important to keep in mind that building social media engagement takes time.

Down the line, social media interactions can translate into real-world deals and transactions. For example, a deal that goes forward following an online introduction, or a deal finessed by the client’s familiarity with an agency’s social media content.

Playing the long game

The thing to bear in mind is that building up a social media brand and relationships with potential clients is a long-term strategy. Over time, if your socials are truly adding value for prospective clients and peers, your brand becomes associated with deep industry knowledge and a commitment to engaging with, and building up, the professional community. In short, exactly the same thing your firm is trying to do in person.

And as we move into an era where having a virtual presence becomes ever more important through the use of tools like the metaverse, these kinds of engagements are likely to be central to how we do business. So, for the tech-savvy CRE professional, new social platforms should be viewed as just another tool that can be used to bolster deal-making and gain traction in an increasingly competitive market.