By Scott Wickman
More than 630,000 new multifamily units are currently underway across the country, with more than 400,000 expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
This influx of new supply is forcing multifamily owners and managers to implement strategies to stay ahead of the curve and stand out amongst the competition.
One way to do this is by leveraging social media and the digital world to enhance resident satisfaction and retention, as well as to attract new residents.
More than 80 percent of Americans have social media accounts, with two of the largest rental cohorts—Millennials and Gen Z—being the most active in the social space. Approximately 90 percent of young adults ages 18-to-29 are active on social platforms and usage among those 65 and older has more than tripled since 2010.
What this means is that nearly every potential rental demographic is on some form of social media, and that property managers can utilize these platforms to engage current and prospective residents.
As a property management firm that manages more than 23,600 apartment units and 162 communities, Western National Property Management has compiled the top three strategies for property owners and managers to successfully leverage social media to make their properties stand out amongst the rising flow of competition.
Target Platforms that Reach Your Core Audience
Social media has certainly been a disruptor in the industry. It is clear that most current and prospective residents are on some form of social media platform, making it a critical component for a property’s future success.
The key for property managers is to know which social platforms reach their specific target audiences. For example, the younger Millennial and Gen Z generations, are much more active on Instagram and Facebook than their Baby Boomer counterparts
That said, Baby Boomers are more active on Facebook than they are any other social platform. Approximately 72 percent of baby boomers are active on Facebook compared to approximately 18 percent on Instagram.
Before developing any social media strategy, property managers must first have a deep understanding as to which audiences are active on which social platforms. From there, devise a strategy that will cater content to appeal to each of these different demographics and share that content on the appropriate social channel.
This will ensure property managers are effectively reaching their core target audience, resulting in a more effective social strategy and increased leads for the apartment community.
Provide Engaging & Real-Time Content
With the constant flow of information and users being inundated with content on a regular basis, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Property managers must ensure they are creating original and unique content that will engage current and prospective residents. This can include items such as regularly updated blogs, and community-wide Instagram contests, among others.
At Western National Property Management, we know that one of our core target audiences is Millennials, which account for half of apartment renters today. We also know that Millennials place significant value on sustainability and environmentally conscious properties.
To engage this core group of renters, we created a “Green Living” blog where we constantly share tips and strategies regarding going green. These same strategies are also shared on many of our social media platforms where Millennials are most active.
By highlighting these “green” items we can engage with this demographic while also demonstrating our commitment to environmental and energy efficiency, which plays a major role in differentiating our properties amongst the competition. This, in turn, will aid in keeping current residents satisfied and appeal to new renters.
Property managers will also need to ensure they are further engaging residents and prospective residents by responding to comments in a timely manner. This means responding to both positive and negative comments.
One way to do this is by setting up email or text notifications to notify managers of comments in real time. Today’s residents, especially Millennials, are constantly connected and place strong value on speed and convenience. By actively responding to questions and comments, property managers can cultivate deeper relationships or immediately address concerns, ultimately translating to stronger retention rates and increased new leads.
Be Authentic and Informative
An apartment community’s social media outlets and website not only serve as a first impression for prospective residents, but also as a valuable and informative tool for current residents.
At a large apartment community, it can often be extremely difficult for management to keep in contact with all of its residents. However, social media is changing this. Property managers now have the ability to reach more residents and more rapidly than ever before.
Property managers can share information regarding community events, reviews of nearby restaurants, apartment decorating ideas, and important updates happening at the community. In doing so, they are able to act as a useful resource to current and prospective residents, which aid in driving more traffic back to the social media pages as residents return for useful tips, and cultivates a sense of brand loyalty among residents.
In addition to acting as a source of information, many property managers are taking this a step further and offering real-time content through platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
Growing up in the digital age, residents and prospective residents, especially the younger generations, can smell an ad a mile away and know when they’re being sold something. By expanding social strategies to utilize these features, property managers can appeal to current and prospective residents by making them feel more involved and offer a “real-life” authentic experience.
As multifamily competition continues to rise, property managers continue to integrate new strategies to stand out amongst the crowd. Social media strategies are one of the ways property managers can do this. By focusing on platforms that target a property’s core audience, creating content that engages residents, and acting as an online resource, property managers can strategically leverage social media to drive retention, attract new residents, and ultimately drive revenue at their properties in the years ahead.
Scott Wickman is the regional vice president of Western National Property Management, the residential real estate management arm of Western National Group. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Western National Property Management currently oversees the management of 23,600 apartment units in 162 communities throughout Orange County, the Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.