As a property manager, you always have one thing on your mind – how to promote your apartment community. In 2018 most people would say that’s a simple answer: social media. While it’s true that social media has transformed daily life and ways to market your property it’s not always as easy as it seems. In fact, using social media as a marketing tool can often feel like adding a drop of water to the ocean. It’s a huge body of sometimes hard to navigate waters. The difficulty is often our approach to using these platforms to market our apartment community. You can post all day long on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram without generating actual leads especially leads that end up signing a lease. Additionally, utilizing social media to promote your apartment community assumes that the demographic you’re targeting actually uses social media services to look for apartments. While it is true that the majority of people use social media, it’s not as certain that they use them to find a place to rent. Don’t worry, we have some tips to help you navigate the ocean of social media to effectively promote your apartment community.
Let’s start at the beginning with the idea of branding. The general idea is that when you brand your product, in this case, your apartment community, you create one of two things. The first is an impression with consumers that will make them more likely to purchase, or in this case, lease. Second, branding creates a long-term loyalty with consumers that encourages them to keep buying the product or keep leasing the apartment. However, this type of branding doesn’t really work for a multifamily apartment community. Leasing an apartment is long-term and high-risk, neither of which work well with this type of branding. Most social media branding is for high-frequency, low-risk products; food, for example. When you think chicken you think (insert food chain here). But as a consumer, this isn’t really a risky purchase. What’s the worst that can happen? You purchase the food, you don’t like it and you don’t come back. It’s a small investment and low risk. On the flip side, you purchase the food and like it then the chances of you returning are high. Low-risk, high-frequency. Leasing an apartment is very different. The consumer has a lot to risk. If they choose to rent somewhere and they don’t like their experience it can be a miserable lease term for them. Similarly, leasing an apartment is not a high-frequency event for most people. The average person will only sign a few leases before they purchase. This is why typical social media branding techniques might not work for your apartment community.
So how do people make their leasing decisions? They start with research, typically using a search engine. Most consumers will look at 10 or more sources before making a decision. In fact, 90% of housing searches begin online. As potential renters are searching online they are most concerned about what their future apartment actually looks like. Aha! We have something we can work with. Now that we know what people want we can cater to their needs. Enter social media and all of its potential. The Facebook marketplace is the perfect place to start. In the past, Facebook has been a purely social platform. However, that is changing with the recent marketplace addition which has a specific place for apartment listings. Since people are already familiar with Facebook they’re more likely to trust the information they find here compared to a site like Craigslist. Because people are looking for visuals, give them what they want. Post plenty of floor plans in the Marketplace listing so potential residents know what they’re getting. Posted correctly, this technique will result in higher quality leads because anyone not interested in what they see won’t follow up for a tour and/or information. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to have a Facebook business page for your residents. While this won’t generate much new business and it’s unlikely to prevent people from vacating your community, it can serve a useful purpose as a mass-communication tool. Since most of your residents likely have their own personal Facebook page you can post upcoming events, lease reminders, safety updates, etc. If nothing else, it’s just another way to connect with your existing residents. You can also use Facebook Events to promote an open house for any vacancies you have. Post photographs and send out invites to create a buzz about your apartment community. Facebook live can also be a promotional tool to provide a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming available units using videos and 360-degree photos.
Facebook isn’t the only social media tool you can utilize. People love stories so consider creating a Snapchat story about apartment turnovers. You can visually illustrate the transformation with the before photos, the process of cleaning and prepping for the new residents and the final after photos. You can photo illustrate other events as well such as moving day for new tenants and any resident activities. Twitter can also be used to promote your apartment community. Consider using a branded hashtag that all residents can use when they post photos of their apartments or events related to your property. Last, but certainly not least, never underestimate the power of Instagram. People respond to visual posts and Instagram fulfills that need for people. A picture truly is worth a thousand words and any social media post with an image always receive much higher level of engagement than purely text-based posts.
Regardless of how you choose to market your apartment community on social media, it’s important that you earn the trust of potential renters. This is why it’s crucial to manage any social media profiles you create. Any person who visits your profiles is a potential review for your properties. Therefore, maintain a strong social media presence to help increase your positive reviews. Now that you know what the average renter is looking for, do your best to streamline your social media marketing.