Property managers and owners often forget the ‘social’ part of social media.
There should be less of a focus on pushing advertisements, listings and lead-to-lease ratios, and more of a focus on connecting with the community, says Erica Campbell Byrum, director of social media for Homes.com and ForRent.com, and co-author of Youtility For Real Estate: Why Smart Real Estate Professionals are Helping, Not Selling.
Multifamily Executive's Kayla Devon recently chatted with Byrum to get her take on the most effective social media strategies firms can employ to build a sense of community, engage your residents, and ultimately, drive up retention rates.
MFE: What is the best social media platform for managers and owners to reach their audience?
Byrum: It’s definitely going to be Facebook. They still have the largest market share with over a billion users. It seems to be the best tool for analytic and app integration. We’re seeing a lot of properties starting to play in Pinterest and Instagram and take advantage of the power of visual storytelling.
MFE: Is there a trick to getting noticed on Facebook since it limited audience reach?
Byrum: One of the largest trends in 2014 and in 2015 is pay-to-play. I recommend in addition to having a social media strategy, you also budget some ad spend for social media for promoted posts. You still can get traction with your regular content without having to pay. My recommendation for that is to heavily post with visual content. The power of the photo gets more Facebook likes, comments, and shares.
MFE: What should property managers be sharing on social media?
Byrum: Different things you can do is ‘meet the team’ where they’re actually introducing members of their staff. Also, any kind of resident events that they have. And of course, expert advice–whether it’s on moving, apartment décor, lifestyle. It’s all about providing that youtility-type content, which is less about your core business of leasing apartments and more about how you can be helpful to the resident. That’s the Jay Baer theory, who’s an industry thought leader in marketing and social media. He wrote the book Youtility.
MFE: What companies are using social media the best right now in the multifamily world?
Byrum: I like the Bozzuto Group. They have an awesome offline, online strategy, and one of the best ones I’ve seen in the industry by far where they’ll literally start with an offline component, bring it online, transition it through social and then produce a live event at the end of it where social is constantly a part of everything. It’s a complete integrated campaign.
MFE: Should it all be about lead-to-lease to evaluate social media effectiveness?
Byrum: It should be more about engagement. The better way of thinking with social is going to be on the engagement side, the resident retention side, providing useful, helpful content that really enables them to position you at top of mind the next time they’re in the market looking for an apartment. You’ve been helpful for them instead of just pushing listings or pushing hype. It’s about help versus hype.
MFE: What new technologies should managers take advantage of in social media?
Byrum: Hyperlapse. It really changed the game for micro videos and allows high-speed photos in a hyperlapse format just using a mobile device and the application. It’s a fun way to excite your residents for an upcoming event. If you’re actually at the event, you can use the Hyperlapse app to draw attention for future events. There’s no cost to it; it takes very little time, and it’s great shareable content that can fit into every social platform.
MFE: Any other best practice tips?
Byrum: One of the biggest things is activating your employees. When you look at some of the larger successful companies, even medium size to small businesses, ones that are truly successful are the ones where they’ve empowered their employees to also participate in that conversation and act as an extension to their brand.