Those of you following me on Twitter (RedStarKim) will have seen numerous tweets from me bearing the hashtag #ricssm and this blog provides a more detailed account of the introduction to social media for property conference on 4th April 2011.

Peter Bradley of Orbital Media and our chair kicked the afternoon off – we were all surprised (but pleased) that over 100 people had booked as delegates. He is the author of a social media glossary where I learned the definition of a troll (someone who posts negative comments on your blog).

Adam Tinworth, Editorial Development Manager of RBI, started with his credentials by describing how long he has been involved – as a journalist at Estates Gazette initially – with social media (blogs since 2001, Twitter since 2006). He doesn’t look old enough! He emphasised the need to focus on the social rather than the media elements (quoting “markets are conversations” from Cluetrain) and busted a fair few myths along the way. He spent some time demonstrating the nature of online communities with interesting examples from the farming and livestock markets as well as some local communities around Greenwich. This was interesting as I had spoken to a town planner earlier who was interested in social media’s role in the localisation initiative.

He also gave a hint on using Flickr images to avoid copyright infringement. He mentioned a book “Me and my web shadow” by Anthony Mayfield and the web site whatworksonline. I loved his map of his LinkedIn contacts showing his networks in different “interest” communities – this has to be a great tool for helping folk with segmenting their networks and tailoring their communications.

Andrew Waller and Bob Thompson of Remit Consulting then did a double act – talking about the positive and negative aspects of social media. They shared some great statistics:

  • Twitter 105m+ users
  • 300K join every day
  • 600m searches every day
  • 57% of FTSE companies involved
  • 20% tweets “branded”
  • LinkedIn 100m users
  • 200 countries
  • 50% users outside the US
  • All Fortune 500 companies

They showed the huge variety of social media tools – and warned that some were no longer with us. The benefits of being able to channel the information and news you want were explained and a variety of tools for monitoring your own reputation as well as those of key clients and targets were reviewed (CoTweet, TweetDech and HootSuite). Then we flashed through some real estate wikis and had a quick look at CREOPoint (an invitation only commercial property network). Then the benefits in marketing terms were considered – a copy of their excellent White Paper “The role of social media in commercial property” covers this material in detail. The recruitment market use was touched upon for those seeking a change in career direction. The pros and cons of automated publishing were covered and then some property communities were shown – Broadgate Estate’s Vicinitee. I was particularly interested in the case studies – including Hammerson  using Facebook to engage with the community at the start of a development. Bob signalled some warning shots with regards to employees’ inappropriate use of social media bringing their organisations into disrepute and the challenges of data jurisdictions with regards to Data Protection legislation and the need for appropriate social media policies and contracts of employment.

At this point there were some questions, including: What are the benefits of social media? What to do when disgruntled employees write about you? How to moderate effectively? And How to prevent a surveyor’s life becoming dominated by technology.

After a short break, it was my session – on using social media in selling (as opposed to marketing) and engaging with clients and referrers – and I’ll try to remember to write a separate blog with the points that generated the most interest. Although much of the information is contained either in the White Paper (see the bog below) I produced in conjunction with econsultancy or in blogs and FAQs on this web site.

Peter Brady then presented on social media marketing in practice with case studies from Wyndham Hotel Group in Chelsea Harbour and the Bentall Centre in Kingston (increasing footfall, customer loyalty, web traffic and retail sales for shopping centre tenants) and, beyond the property market – Adidas. Whereas I had talked about FourSquare (a locational social media platform) for gaining insight into the interests and movements of clients and contacts he talked about the value to retailers in measuring interests and offering promotions.

Finally Tom Inglis, after talking about the Reorb collaborative commercial property network, and the value of social media in encouraging internal communication (Yammer had been mentioned a couple of times earlier in the conference) gave some thoughts about the shape of things to come. He reminded us to ensure that our web sites were sticky, relevant and portable. There was much excitement about the use of augmented reality for commercial property promotion.

I suppose that as the event was billed as an introduction to social media for the property sector, we shouldn’t have been surprised that the Twitter wall in the refreshment area was dominated by the speakers – adders (Adam Tinworth of RBI), remitaw (Andrew Waller of Remit), remitbt (Bob Thompson of Remit), peterbrady (of Orbital), feusd  and the organiser henley_lady (Sarah Miller of RICS). But there were contributions from delegates and those following the event from afar (m4_design, EEPaul, dukelong, ccsaurus, magnus_s, EGSimonR).