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Social Media and Commercial Real Estate


By now it should be no secret that I’m a big fan of social media. The statistics validating social media’s ability to positively impact performance more than serve as adequate evidence that commercial real estate professionals should be actively engaged in social media marketing. That said, not a week passes where the naysayers and apathetic scoff at social media as if were just a waste of time. If today’s post seems like a bit of a rant, it’s because it is…In the text that follows I’ll share a few brief thoughts in an attempt to reason with those still not switched-on to the many benefits of social media.

I want to begin by addressing the three most common objections (translation: cop-outs) that I encounter from the unimpassioned or uninitiated:

1.       Real business people don’t use social media: The inference with this excuse is that social media is somehow not worthy of their attention – that “real businesses” simply don’t market using social media. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, if you do a bit of digging you’ll quickly see that the category dominant personal and corporate brands in virtually every sector are engaged at some level with social media. Moreover, most of them are dramatically increasing their investments into social media while cutting back on investments into traditional media.  On a global level, marketers report an increase of 30% in digital expenditures in the last 12 months alone.  While this “social media is for teenagers and college students” excuse may make for a nice sound bite in your mind, in reality the only thing you accomplish with this position is to demonstrate outdated thinking to those in the know.  In fact, according to Neilson, the over 35 age category is embracing social media faster than any other demographic, while growth among teens and college aged users has been flat to negative.

2.       I don’t have time to use social media: This statement smacks of naiveté at best, or of arrogance at its worst. Since when doesn’t a person have time to engage people in a way that builds trust, engenders confidence, and accelerates the efficiency of communication. Saying that you don’t have time to engage your prospects and clients where they want to be engaged is nothing short of flawed thinking. What many fail to understand until they experience it first hand is that social media doesn’t replace real relationships, it enhances and accelerates them. You simply don’t have time not to be involved in social media. Learn how to leverage social media to increase the frequency of quality, live, business development meetings, and your productivity will increase.  Learn that social media serves to enhance all of the activities that you are otherwise too busy focusing on, and you will run a commercial real estate practice which features greater profits and efficiencies. Fail to understand this and you’ll fail to maximize your potential.

3.       It doesn’t work for commercial real estate: News flash – as much as you may want to think differently, our business is not any different from other businesses. Believing that certain immutable business principals don’t exist for commercial real estate professionals is very dangerous thinking. Not only have I personally benefited from social media on several levels, but I am also aware of numerous examples of both service providers and end-users alike that have received benefit from their investments into social media. Commercial real estate almost always lags behind other industries in terms of adopting new technologies and means of information sharing.  We will see a repeat of this trend as the number of social media naysayers is reduced to a scant few within the next 24 months.  As an aside, as of April 2009, more people spend time on Twitter, Facebook, etc., than they do on email.  Do you really believe that our industry is so unique that we are immune to these revolutionary changes?  If you haven’t benefited from social media yet, my guess is that you’re either 1.) not participating in social media; 2.) new to social media, and/or; 3.) not committed to doing what it takes to be successful with social media.

If you’re still not buying-in to my logic, I’m going to cut right to the chase and outline a few representative examples below of the benefits of social media for commercial real estate professionals:

Benefits for Practitioners

Social media increases your presence and visibility on the search engines, your exposure to deals, prospects and information, your ability to engage in meaningful conversations, the ability to shorten selling cycles and improve relationships, the ability to improve your position relative to competition, the ability to demonstrate subject matter expertise by expanding distribution for your thoughts and ideas, the ability to reach more people with greater velocity, and the list could go on and on…The bottom line is this: It has been said that as high as 80% of all purchasing decisions and diligence efforts begin with an internet search. What possible reason would you have for not wanting to be found where your prospects and clients are looking?  Put another way, and as if our business couldn’t be any more difficult right now, why would you want to add to the existing set of new business challenges by having a poor Internet/social media presence?

Benefits for Clients

Clients and end-users are turning to social media in increasingly larger numbers when looking for information, advice, properties and professional expertise. Clients looking for increased transparency and accountability from their professional advisors will be looking for social proofing that is easily found online in reviewing a professionals social media presence. Clients looking to buy, sell or lease property will turn to and value the professionals that have the greatest visibility online and access to the toolsets and platforms most likely to benefit them.

Regardless of where you are in the commercial real estate value chain, you won’t be able to ignore social media and remain competitive in today’s marketplace. I would offer my strongest encouragement to anyone not actively involved in social media to develop a strategy for implementation.


1 JC Goldenstein { 02.09.10 at 5:47 pm }

Well said Kevin, this is for real – now! Your readers may be interested in learning that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the largest CRE association in the world, has recently put out a groundbreaking research paper on the role of social media in property (available at CREOpoint.com/forum/topics/role-of-social-media-in).

I guess you’ll see CRE professionals naturally evolve from denial to dabbling in social media, to wasting their time, to finally understanding that, like everything, it’s best to start with objectives, strategies and resources to get there! I thought I’d share some of the key questions I hear CRE executives and marketers from around the world:

1. Industry leaders and some in our organization are joining the social media bandwagon to better interact with customers, what are my peers doing and why?
2. Where are the pitfalls and how do I avoid mistakes?
3. Who is talking about us and what are they saying where we are not listening?
4. What can I learn about my competitors strengths and weaknesses that will help me differentiate and get market share from them?
5. What can I find out about what makes clients or prospects tick and how can I most effectively get corresponding content?
6. How do I find the true influencers by topic and focus/manage our outreach efforts?
7. What are the best sites given that many companies are blocking social networks to decrease reputation risk and productivity loss?
8. How do I convert our social media marketing efforts into tangible results?
9. How do we cohesively tie different social media efforts of our people and fans together?
10. CREOpoint’s DNA is in social media and CRE. What does the CREOpoint team know that we should?

Hope that helps someone out there save a lot of time and aggravation… and do some serious deals.

Thanks for your views and for your continued leadership. Best, JC

JC Goldenstein
Founder and CEO
The exclusive online meeting point for CRE decision makers worldwide

2 Why Real Estate Needs Social Networking « ideaviews.com { 02.10.10 at 9:50 am }

[...] The subject matter of this blog is targeted towards commercial real estate but I think his ideas and principles can be applied to all types of real estate. You can read his post here. [...]

3 Duke Long { 02.10.10 at 10:03 am }

Ironicially you are way ahead of the curve. Great piece.

4 Duke Long { 02.10.10 at 10:06 am }

Also linked out thru my posterous!!

5 admin { 02.10.10 at 5:18 pm }

Thanks, Duke. I read your work often. Please do keep the comments coming…

6 admin { 02.10.10 at 5:25 pm }

Looking forward to reading the paper, JC. I can’t read enough about the various applications of social media in commercial real estate. Agree, approaching a social media initiative with an objective in mind, vs. flying by the seat of one’s pants or simply winging it, will produce poor results. Your questions above, and your CREOpoint.com meeting point are great places for CRE professionals to start.

7 Jason G. Toll { 02.11.10 at 7:59 am }

Kevin, Well thought out and written article. I agree that we (cre brokers) are behind the curve with social media or technology in general. I starting using ArchView GIS mapping technology in 2004 while practicing with Grubb & Ellis in Orlando to boost my industrial & land practice. Meanwhile during that same time, a few seasoned brokers in my office feared their computer and relied on the fax machine for all non verbal communications. They were unwilling to adapt to email.

Bottom line, I look forward to following you on Twitter and reading your future posts.


Jason G. Toll @JGToll

8 admin { 02.11.10 at 9:46 am }

Thanks for your comment, Jason. I am certain that your early adoption of new technology has had a positive impact on your earnings. Being an innovator, or early adopter, or being one who is anywhere near the left side of the product diffusion curve certainly comes with risks and headaches, but SM trending towards the early majority.
Great to see that you are on the bus.

9 admin { 03.28.11 at 11:01 am }

Thanks for the reply, JW…you’re right about the early adopters leveraging first mover advantage to gain market share and more. And the space is quickly moving to “must use” status. As E. Qualman of Socialnomics says, “The ROI of social media for businesses is that they will still be in business in 5 years.” Anyway, looking fwd to participating in your CREDAA.com.

10 walidmrealtor { 03.29.11 at 3:54 am }

Excellent post Kevin! Very thoughtful and well laid out from beginning to end. Let’s hope your peers are listening, any acceleration in social media involvement culminating in more commercial transactions will be welcome by the economy at large.

11 Bo Barron, CCIM { 03.29.11 at 1:01 pm }

Kevin – I think you nailed it. SoMe is important for a CRE advisor for mainly 2 reasons – presence and client value. It can creat presence, no doubt, but the advisor still has to show up, know his/her stuff, and creat a tremendous amount of value or all the tweets in the world are essentially puff. The other critical element that SoMe provides is that I collect a tremendous amount of real-time information that can be very valuable to my clients. I always know the news before I watch it! So now I am an even more critical member of my clients’ inner-circles. Thanks Kevin!

12 admin { 04.02.11 at 12:36 pm }

Good points, Bo. There is a big difference between presence and relevance. There is certainly more so social media than SEO, and/or simply participating in SM.

13 admin { 04.02.11 at 12:37 pm }

Thanks for the note, @walidmrealtor. Agree…any acceleration in the space will create market efficiencies, which are good for the market, and in turn the economy.

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