Can Social Media Be a Savior For Real Estate Developers? asks Dave Jacobs

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(Dave Jacobs of Llenrock Group reviewed Nimby Wars in November 2009 and has recently posted a new look at social media and its potential for real estate developers)

By Dave Jacobs, Llenrock Group

The answer to this question, of course, is yes and no.  On its own, there is nothing social media can do to save a commercial real estate development.  However, you would be surprised at the myriad ways social media can have a dramatic impact for commercial real estate developers keen on putting their project in the most favorable light for both township commissioners and citizens who are on the fence about whether or not to support a new development in their community.  With some insight from the Saint Consulting Group, whose book NIMBY Wars I reviewed on this site last year, let’s examine how social media can help fast track the approval of your development project.

1. Traditional Social Media – Using outlets like Facebook, Twitter and other networking tools can help you reach and organize supporters for your development project.  Making a Facebook page for the project, which people can “like” or provide Twitter updates which community members can “follow” can be a high-impact, low cost (in terms of both time and capital) to connect with community members.

2. Video Petitions – Creating petitions and other custom-crafted video productions and posting them to sites like YouTube can be an effective way to capture the message of citizens in support of your project.  Nobody wants to hear it from the developer themselves, but if they see support through the words of there fellow community members, they will be more likely to support the project also, or at least not oppose it.

3. E-mail, Blogs and Websites – While these may be considered archaic forms of social media, the impact they carry with them still remains.  They are also essential tools for campaign management, if utilized correctly.

4. Specialized Mapping and Graphics – Whether software based geo-targeting methods are used, or simpler techniques like Google Earth, this can be an effective tool to show politicians where project supporters, petition signers, and active voters live, using images to demonstrate support in a way that words alone cannot.  These prove to be effective leave-behinds.

5. Targeted Supporter Contact – By analyzing the profiles of your community supporters, you can craft a database that allows you to direct mail, email or otherwise contact citizens most likely to be in support of your project, without wasting valuable dollars and time sending out mass mailers to those likely to be indifferent or oppose the project, which may only serve to rile up opponents even further.

6. iPhone & iPad Applications – If you have someone tech-savvy enough in house, you may want to consider iPad or iPhone based presentation and petitioning tools to help educate the public about the project, gather petitions of support electronically, and sometimes even photograph the petitioners who have signed.

Let’s face it.  As the digital age progresses and morphs, those who change with it and adapt to its new found uses, in any discipline, are more likely to achieve their desired goals.  Commercial real estate developers should view this fact no differently that members of any other industry, and take full advantage of what social media can offer.

(This article has been reprinted here with the permission of the author. It first appeared in Benzinga, The Trading Idea Network)

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