Commercial firms expand social media presence, but concrete benefits up for debate

From left: Sacha Zarba and a screenshot of CBRE's Twitter feed
From left: Sacha Zarba and a screenshot of CBRE's Twitter feed

Some commercial real estate firms now have a greater social media presence, and some brokers say they’re nabbing leads thanks to the social media sphere, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But whether a social media presence can secure a deal is a matter of debate. JMP Securities’ William Marks, himself a former broker, says online activity doesn’t make a big difference. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn cannot provide the face-to-face contact that the business thrives on, he said. “There are indirect benefits, yes,” he told the Journal of social media, “because it’s free advertising in a sense. But there is a ceiling to how much it can actually benefit.”

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However, CBRE broker Sacha Zarba told the Journal that thanks to LinkedIn, he’s had over 25 meetings — five to 10 of which have led to a deal. “I will instantly see who we know in common and get an introduction,” Zarba told the Journal. “It makes it warmer.”

Though there are benefits to having a social media presence, as The Real Deal previously reported, there’s the chance for a risky Tweet or Facebook update to cause harm, putting the firm’s brand on the line.

In terms of Twitter followers of commercial brokerages, CBRE takes first prize with over 26,000 followers. Jones Lang LaSalle, on the other hand, has a list of roughly 16,000 followers and even has a social media staff to maintain the firm’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. [WSJ]Zachary Kussin