Commercial real estate is a social business – or is it? – Orange County Register

My industry is in the proverbial dark ages when it comes to marketing through social media.

Compared with our residential counterparts — who kill it on social media sites — we limp along under the illusion that “social” just isn’t for folks who own or lease commercial real estate. Wow, how wrong we are!

So, why are we so 1980s, you might ask? In no particular order, here are some of the reasons.

Age plays a part

The average age of a commercial real estate broker is 57. Crowded with gray-haired men, commercial real estate sales evolved from predominantly family-owned brokerages with names such as Daum, Cushman, Collins, Lee, Ashwill, Burke, and others.

As the majority of business in the old days were fostered via relationships and referrals — and somewhat stuffily, BTW — the old generation of commercial real estate brokers farmed new opportunities on the golf course, the bar or the steakhouse. You called, mailed, or placed an ad when you had a new listing. If you used a computer in the 80s and 90s, you were the source of water cooler humor, as no leads will come out of that machine, young man. You get out there and cold call!

Industry bias toward technology has now traveled a couple of generations to the present day. Many new agents are trained the same way we were in the 80s — get out there and make relationships!

We approach it wrong

Social media marketing isn’t like taking out an ad in the Orange County Register, although many approach it that way. The Register has a broad circulation and appeals to those in the market for goods and services. If you are shopping for commercial real estate, great! You see the ad, call the broker, make a deal, done!

Consequently, when Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram came along, we pushed our same old message of “here is my listing; buy my stuff.” Missed in this method is the way folks transact these days. Sure, there are still buyers who are in the market, see an ad and buy. Most, however, search the web for informational content such as “how-to” articles, videos, or images and are pulled toward a service provider. If you are the agent providing the “help,” you are sought out as the expert. Critically important is this digital footprint so you can be found online.

When will it change

Given the nature of our business, maybe never. The commercial real estate scene is largely relational and our transactions are tough to standardize. However, as one who’s used social…

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