Prominent real estate blogger Duke Long has named Ken Ashley of Cushman & Wakefield’s Atlanta office to his annual list of the “Top 10 Most Influential Online Commercial Real Estate People.” This is the second year Ken has made the list, and this year he was also named to Duke’s list of the “Top 100 Commercial Real Estate People You Must Follow On Twitter” and he topped the list of “Top 150 Commercial Real Estate People You Must Connect With On LinkedIn.”
Below, Ken tells the story of his social media journey and the impact it has had on his business.
How did you get started on social media/your blog?
Ken Ashley: I signed up for Twitter in 2009, and I wrote my first blog post that summer. Seven people read it, and one of those people was my mom and she was very proud. Since then, my following has blossomed into almost 19,000 followers on Twitter and more than 4,500 followers on LinkedIn. Adding real value with content and consistency seems to be the winning formula.
Hiring a service provider is a difficult decision, especially when we all tend to say the same things. I thought if I could create a body of work allowing people to see what I think and how I capture trends that it might differentiate me. Also, there is a tendency to ascribe expertise to people who are featured in the media and online. This has created a platform that’s helped me to differentiate in a very crowded marketplace.
What the ROI been for your business?
It’s been a tremendous differentiator. When I walk into a pitch or meeting I get a lot of comments on my blog or LinkedIn posts, which is a good ice breaker. Because I’m curating something every week and writing about the business, it forces me to think critically about trends. So when someone asks how’s the market, I have probably thought deeply about that well in advance. It’s a terrific marketing tool, but you still have to pick up the phone and shake hands to secure business.
Can you give an example of a time you feel your blog and social media presence helped you to secure business?
I met an Atlanta-based corporate executive in a job transition, and we stayed in touch predominately through LinkedIn for a couple of years. I was dropping my daughter off at school one day, and he called me. He asked me to help with a small office space in Atlanta, which we did. When I asked about his new job, I learned that he was now the CEO of a large telecom company based in another state. The relationship we had built and maintained through LinkedIn led to me securing a 350,000-square-foot headquarters deal with him that resulted in millions in fees. It never would have happened had we not continued our relationship online because he was far too busy to meet in person beyond that initial meeting.
How do you make time for your blog and social media?
There are two parts to it. It only takes about 15 minutes a day because I am anti-spam. So I only post one thing a day on LinkedIn and a few things on Twitter. I hand-curate my content, and once a week I put together five interesting stories that I feel will be beneficial to help people. Second, I attempt once a month to write some original content. You can write an easy “blog,” which could be 15 to 20 words on top of an article you post on LinkedIn and still absolutely be perceived as an expert.
How do you decide what to post?
I put together my four corners, which are what I talk about online. Technology is one because everyone cares about tools that will help them do their job better. The second is macro commercial real estate in the workplace, such as culture, what’s happening in terms of trends/rental rates, etc. I picture a CEO reading my tweet while walking into the boardroom. Three is anything related to management, like how to do better employee reviews, how to set and reach goals, how to be a better leader. What executive doesn’t want to read about that? Last is anything positive – I love stories about overcoming obstacles and successful entrepreneurs.
What I don’t post about is maybe more important than what I do, which is politics, religion, sports – it just confuses the message. A couple of times over the years people reached out and said, “Why did you post that? It’s out of character.” People have a brand identity for you, and if you’re not compliant with that, that’s not a good thing.
Finally, what your mom taught you about manners in a physical setting is the same in social. Be nice and thoughtful. Your mom will be proud of you, too.
To download a copy of Ken’s social media best practice guide, click here.