The selfie and hashtags are social media staples. Everyday, billions of individuals get on the social media of their choice and post about their world view, favorite food, families and hobbies. Any number of Facebook pages include rants about landlords, government and any number of topics. Multifamily social media marketing is here to stay. As a property manager or multifamily marketing manager, how can you leverage the sites your potential renters are on everyday?
Why Be Social?
Ask an academic why your business should be local and you might learn more than you want to know about Pierre Bourdieu’s social capital theory and “Social Currency”.
In essence, Social Currency is “about creating a sense of community and by that a strong affiliation between customers, consumers and users of a brand. Having social currency increases a brand’s engagement with consumers and interaction with customers, and by that adding to the customer conversation around the brand, it grants access to information and knowledge, which is being shared within the customer base. Belonging to a group also helps users of a brand to grow personally by accessing new utility and also developing their own identity in the respective peer group. A strong attachment to a brand will also be a core driver for an active advocacy recommending or even defending the brand.”
To the average multifamily marketer the most important bit of social media insight begins and ends with the fact that most businesses and individuals have a presence on social media, whether they want to or not. An individual post can be shared hundreds if not thousands of times. Facebook alone has 1,310,000,000 monthly users and 680,000,000 mobile users. Every 20 minutes, 1 million links are shared and 3 million messages are sent, according to Statistic Brain. By taking control of your social media presence, you harness the power of social media as a marketing tool.
Today’s renters are connected 24 hours a day through social media. And 98% of 18 to 24 year olds are using social media, according to Statistic Brain. Bi-directional communication is no longer an amenity but expected as a right.
It’s All in the Status
For a potential resident, visiting a community’s Facebook page gives them immediate access to your residents’ view of their home. A potential renter will notice residents’ complaints about maintenance or other issues while noting your responses.
For current residents, social media is an outlet for sharing news. Property posts can notify residents of a concert, apartment movie night or a charity event. Ask open-ended questions. These invite responses from your residents and create community interaction, building connections for a friendly community. When residents connect positively with their community, it motivates them to stay – and encourages referrals to prospective tenants.
At the same time, don’t hesitate to use social media to notify residents of maintenance alerts or reminders of the office hours. It can also be a secondary notification for residents during an emergency. These reminders can often reach your residents quicker than an email and provide quality customer service.
Many communities have special events during the summer and on holidays. If your team hosts such an event, be sure to take pictures and post them. Allow your residents to tag themselves and share the pictures. While it contributes to community engagement, your residents are also showcasing the fun lifestyle available at your community to all of their friends, your potential renters.
“Post pictures of your property management team as well as updates of what goes on in your office. Social media can help residents put a face to your team, build trust and make you more approachable. In return, you can also interact with your tenants and get to know them better,” according to Jennifer Chan of Zillow.
Build Your Community
Foster community by hosting a resident contest. For example, a photo contest asking residents to document what they enjoy about their home can provide marketing information for you, while building your tenant relationship. Simple prizes, such as a pizza or a gift certificate, can be a great incentive to get a wide variety of photos showcasing the perks of your property.
Social media can help to drive traffic to your community’s website or listing. Make links available to your webpage or listing. As these links are shared by your residents, you receive the benefits of their clicks in the form of leads. So use your social media for special event notices. Grab their attention with contests and charity events. Initiate discussion with open-ended questions to get to know your residents’ likes and dislikes. Organize a community event where the funds raised go to the charity of your residents’ choice. Use social media to remind tenants of your referral program. Tap your best resource, current satisfied tenants, to recruit new tenants.
Grab your residents’ attention by tuning them into your community, while encouraging a long-term relationship.
Rate This, Review That, Refer Them
Every app and site has a rating system. The creators want feedback. Your residents are giving their feedback on Twitter and Facebook. Positive interactions with residents will reflect in their posts and ratings.
While social media has many benefits, those benefits can be lost if you rarely update your page or feed. Residents won’t see you as relevant and the potential benefit to your property is lost. Simply put, social media loses it’s effectiveness when it is out of date.
Delivering Social ROI
“Your social media effort should be treated in the same way that any other initiative in your business is treated, with a carefully crafted and well-thought out plan. This plan needs to include set goals or objectives and you need to be able to track the progress of the social media campaigns that you develop. Many times social media plans are ineffective because a company is not taking the time to review the progress they are making and to determine which things are engaging social media fans and which are not,” according to Fifth Avenue Brands.
To ensure your social media marketing is delivering a competitive return, track your activities against your core metrics, including leads, property visits and leases. Because social media tends “snowball” over time, smart marketers should consider the benefits of tracking Reach (audience growth), Engagement, Acquisition, Conversion and Follow-on Activity (e.g., correlate social interactions with customer satisfaction).
Social Media Tracking Tools
If your company manages multiple properties, consider using a robust tool like Simply Measured to track your social engagement. If that cost is prohibitive, consider compiling your metrics using free tools to such as Google Analytics (with custom reports), Klout, Keyhole, HootSuite, the Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics.
If you’re ready to level-up your digital skills, consider exploring the vast number of recipes available through Zapier to automate and aggregate your metrics in a Google Spreadsheet and then display those results on an eye-pleasing Geckoboard.
Is your content relevant to your target audience? Reviewing your social media plan on a regular basis, will help determine what content has delivered the results you’re looking for at each stage of the marketing funnel. Wield social media as a marketing tool to build a relationship with both current and future tenants.
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