Millennials social media addicted generation. Young people in colorful outfits leaned against brick wall, using smartphones.
Adobe Stock by golubovy

It’s no secret that Generation Z is big on social media.

This cohort has grown up on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, and they put more stock in the medium than any other generation out there. They use it to find love, to vet brands and businesses, and many even make a living off of it.

As such, it has also become a powerful tool for properties looking to draw in these young renters—or, at the very least, influence them.

“A targeted social media strategy is extremely important for apartment owners and managers looking to attract Gen Z renters,” says Max Sharkansky, managing partner at Trion Properties. “Social media has moved way beyond the fad stage. It has become a regular part of young people’s lives. To ignore it as a powerful marketing channel for multifamily stakeholders would be a mistake and an enormous missed opportunity.”

Getting Social
It’s true: Social media holds serious power in the eyes of young people. In fact, a recent study shows that 80% of Gen Z purchases are actually influenced by these platforms—that’s four out of every five.

The properties Gen Z chooses to rent likely fall into that share of socially influenced purchases. As Brian Koles, brand and marketing director at PMG, explains, “While Gen Z likely won’t search for available apartments on social media, they will absolutely assess whether an apartment community’s social media presence caters to their preferences.”

That assessment might include looking at a community’s profile or posts generated by the leasing team, but also going further and seeing what other users on platforms or, more important, current residents are saying about a place.

“It’s not limited to what’s posted in your feed,” Koles says. “They will also look at the location tag to see who is posting what from within the community.”

Reaching New Tenants
The first step is to establish a community profile on all the major platforms—especially the more imagecentric ones that Gen Z gravitates toward, like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok. As Sharkansky puts it, “Gen Z renters have come to expect their favorite personalities, brands, concepts, and companies to have an active presence on social media platforms. This expectation extends to virtually every aspect of their lives.”

But once those accounts are established, properties need to go beyond just posting cookie-cutter marketing copy and professionally staged photos—at least if they want Gen Z to get on board. They also need to respond to questions and comments, share content posted by current renters, and hone their unique brand voice, experts say.

“Having an inactive, irregular, or overly generic presence that’s obviously on autopilot signals that you don’t know how to communicate with younger renters,” Koles says. “The most important strategy is being authentic, both in your imagery and language. It should feel more personal than contrived. If every picture is glossy and staged, and every comment is flowery marketing buzzwords, then it will seem like you’re trying to fool people instead of having a genuine conversation.”

Advertising on social platforms can also be a smart way to reach Generation Z renters, according to Ryan McCann, partner at MNS. For developers going this route, he says to focus on highlighting brag-worthy features that users might comment on or share—things like amazing views or a great pool. “People just like to see pretty things,” he says.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Despite its merits, social media has a bad side, too—particularly when dealing with Gen Z. As Seth Wise, co-CEO at The Altman Cos., explains, “They can spread bad news and experiences very quickly through their social media channels.”

Those negative experiences and reviews could hurt future business. To prevent this, Koles says it’s important to choose the right social media manager.

“Don’t assume any young person or intern has the skills and judgment to properly represent your community,” Koles says. “You should also reply to every direct message and comment—especially when negative. Show you’re interested in an ongoing conversation.”