‘On the Ground’ with Eric Brown: Is Anyone Paying Attention to Your Facebook Fan Page Posts?

3 min read

As marketers know, sometimes airing on the side of being provocative can yield great results. However, that can be a slippery slope, as we found out Saturday morning.

What a strange weekend. Not only were we battling with AC calls, due to the heat wave in the Midwest in our portfolio with a limited maintenance staff, coupled with the Fourth of July holiday, the AC was out in the condominium where I live. Needless to say, the holiday didn’t start off so well, but then it got much worse than the 90-degree temperatures on Saturday morning, and all within a few minutes.

We manage a variety of Facebook fan pages for clients, both apartment management companies and retail clients. We publish more than 1,000 Facebook posts per month and more than 6,000 Twitter posts per month on behalf of our clients. The point is always to drive some sort of engagement, hopefully good, positive engagement. As marketers know, sometimes airing on the side of being provocative can yield great results. However, that can be a slippery slope, as we found out Saturday morning.

We test ideas and strategies on our own portfolio first to ferret out what works and what doesn’t, and we have been fooling around with adding pictures to each Facebook post. Similar to a blog post, a Facebook post with a picture seems to drive an enhanced result. With that, you need to create a narrative with each picture. We have also been testing posting times and the like. One thing we clearly learned this weekend is that 1) your fans are listening and watching, and 2) your fans are apartment prospects.

Unfortunately, we learned that at the expense of canceled rentals, some that we know of, and likely others that we aren’t aware of, all before 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. The debate isn’t about what caused the outrage, but how closely folks really are paying attention to what you are saying and doing online. The post in reference was of bad taste and a mistake. We apologized and removed the post within 30 minutes of it going up. One wouldn’t think that that many folks are awake and pursing Facebook early on a Saturday of a holiday weekend, but they are.

I guess another thing to ponder here is that the apartment business has a rule and policy for nearly everything under the sun. We have been quick to criticize that approach, as it stifles creativity and promotes fear in the organization as a whole. That said, it isn’t okay to run wild, either. What happened to us this weekend raises the question of what rules should apply to your social media marketing. And, I have said before that if something bad goes you can take it down. Just know there may well be a black eye from it. The good news is, black eyes heal if you do the right thing.

Eric Brown’s background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for Village Green Companies, a Midwest apartment developer. Brown also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.

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