Q: I own a mixed-use retail and residential complex. How could social media increase my bottom line, and where do I start?
Facebook announced that they have reached the astonishing milestone of one billion users. Translate that to virtually one-seventh of the world’s population, and it’s not difficult to see that social media has become a fact of life for many people, and so a fact of doing business.
Through the interface of social media, your tenants, prospective tenants, and the consumers seeking goods and services offered by your retail tenants, all come together as a community. Your bottom line is that prospering merchants catering to loyal customers are a retail property owner’s best insurance against vacancy and obsolescence. Why not help bring them together? Keeping tenants and shoppers up-to-date has never been easier than with social media. Economic and social trends make now the ideal time for commercial real estate to gather online communities.
Managing Social Media
Social media managers now play a pivotal role in public opinion for companies large and small. Effectively navigating both the internet and social discourse should be entrusted to a media manager skilled at both aspects, with graphic arts and research savvy. An owner, or current staff, could conceivably manage your property’s social media if those skills are evident. Otherwise, it is best to leave this very public marketing forum to professionals.
Determining how social media and other forms of networking can increase the performance of your commercial property investment may seem daunting to the uninitiated. Making your entry into social media simple and directed will best facilitate the powerful advertising tools of today that are, literally, at your fingertips.
Focus on the Top Five
To create a social media presence, focus first on these five important networks, adding more later, such as pinterest, tumblr, and any local sites you become aware of for your demographic.
Facebook Love it or hate it, ubiquitous Facebook has grown to include most people you know. As a now publicly-traded corporation, Facebook is becoming increasingly attentive to business with their marketing solutions programmes. Training and advertising credit can help retail plazas and malls establish their Facebook presence. It’s also a great way to advertise to prospective residential tenants.
Twitter Popular social site of message posts, or tweets, of 140 characters or less, just like this description. Perfect for timely public notices.
Google+ the newest of these five, the social media site is lower maintenance than Facebook and, of course, google search-friendly. Google Hangouts for video chat can be used in real time with followers.
LinkedIn Creating a profile page of your company history will get you LinkedIn, the highest traffic business-focused social network for professionals and aspiring professionals.
YouTube Never underestimate the power of video to win fans. It’s more than visual; the medium is relatable and puts your brand into sharp focus. Video is the perfect complement to your online presence. Two minutes recorded during an event or on a tour of your property will prove a powerful marketing tool when linked from YouTube onto each of your company’s profiles.
Content and Commentary Create Community
Once online, you or a media manager can ignite interest and carve out your web presence by recruiting your tenants and additional fans to your pages to engage with posts related to current events. While facts about your property will also be posted here, the vast majority of entries to sites like Facebook are most effectively about more marginal matters of human interest. No human interest story is too big or too small to warrant local attention. Roadwork happening in the area may supply a seemingly endless stream of tweets, for instance, and so page interactions. Seniors in your building celebrating a golden wedding anniversary? Nice post. Your social media manager should make sure your business is a part of local happenings with attractive, photo-friendly entries and inspired banter to capture the imagination of readers. This serves well to create loyalty because you are genuinely involved in their world beyond rent checks and maintenance.
Community Starts at Home
Local news and events focus your online presence, but don’t stop with social media. Despite its obvious value in today’s marketplace, the personal touch always rules the day. Public postings allow information to travel faster than ever before, but the old-fashioned ways of networking are just as valued today.
Forming partnerships with area businesses, associations, service-providers and/or neighbouring residential complexes affords the commercial property owner an integral role in community.
Organize your retail tenants to offer discount cards at their shops to your residential tenants. It may also be worthwhile to offer the same deal to the management of a nearby apartment complex to distribute to their tenants, thus creating a mutually advantageous relationship amongst the local population. Owners of apartment complexes can, by the same token, create partnerships with area businesses willing to provide discounts to residential tenants in order to secure their loyalty. Spearheading such programmes is great public relations and fosters community. Whatever you do in this regard, just keep real value in mind for your tenants, and don’t forget to tweet all about it!
We’ll explore neighbourhood involvement more in future, and also revisit the internet in a future blog, answering the question, “What kind of website will work best for my commercial properties?”