Real-Estate Firms Get a Handle on Twitter

We found this Wall Street Journal article particularly interesting, given Carter’s dedication to maintaining strong social media platforms for our company and our developments. Check out the Carter twitter page, as well as our pages for The Banks in Cincinnati and Highland Square in Oxford, Miss.

“Real-Estate Firms Get a Handle on Twitter,” by Carmel Melouney of The Wall Street Journal

The commercial real-estate industry is notorious for being slow to embrace new technology. Social networking is no exception.

But that is finally beginning to change. Some top firms are beefingup their activity on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and some brokerssay they are doing deals thanks to leads generated by the sites.

As recently as[image] 2010, four years after the launch of Twitter, many brokers didn’t even know what the service was.

“People don’t understand it,” confessed Ron Houghtaling, CBRE Group Inc.’sCBG +0.72%head of social media, at a 2010 technology conference.

Today, CBRE leads the Twitter pack among major firms with more than 26,000 followers. Meanwhile Jones Lang LaSalle,JLL -0.37%is second with 16,048 and has a four-person social-media team that also manages accounts on Facebook,FB -1.35%LinkedIn and other sites.

“It’s definitely something that is apriority for the firm, and we’ll definitely continue to invest in it,”says Brooke Houghton, a Jones Lang LaSalle vice president.

These firms are clearly ahead of others in developing presences inthe social-media world. Studley, which launched its Twitter site in thefall of 2011, only has 536 followers.

Also, there is some debate as towhether social media leads directly to new business or is simply a goodway for firms to promote their brand. Analyst William Marks, of JMP Securities,JMP +3.13%says he doesn’t believe social media will make a big difference in commercial brokerage.

Mr.Marks notes that websites can’t come close to improving on theface-to-face contact that is the lifeblood of the brokerage business. “Idon’t think there’s any direct way to turn social media into a deal,”says Mr. Marks, a former broker himself. “There are indirect benefits,yes, because it’s free advertising in a sense. But there is a ceiling tohow much it can actually benefit.”

Some brokers say they can point to specific deals that they gotthrough social networking. CBRE broker Sacha Zarba, who has been amember of LinkedIn since 2006, estimates that he’s had over 25 businessmeetings thanks to the site. Between five and 10 of those have led to adeal and continued business, he says.

Using social networking beats cold-calling potential clients. “I willinstantly see who we know in common and get an introduction,” Mr.Zarba, 35 years old, says. “It makes it warmer.”

Jeffrey Roseman, 51, a retail broker with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank,says his intern explained Twitter to him about three years ago. Sincethen he’s attracted 1,700 followers, more than some entire real-estatefirms.

“I’m followed by a lot of different retailers that I don’t havebusiness with,” he says. “Maybe the next time I call them, they may takemy call.”

—Carmel Melouney

A version of this article appeared December10, 2012, on page A26 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal,with the headline: Real-Estate Firms Get a Handle on Twitter.

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