We kicked off this series with the notion that apartment marketers who are using social media or thinking about it should shift their thinking from the array of soft metrics that social media consultants banter about to hard numbers. Broken down to its simplest form, “If you are not renting more apartments from your social media efforts, it is just a hobby.” Social media is a lead generator.
We started talking about Twitter last week, and have implied that with relative ease your apartment community can generate several thousand relative, hyper local followers. In all of our analysis herein we are writing about the embankment of our own journey and the fruit it bears and not theoretical rhetoric. All of the quoted numbers are centered around an average-size apartment community of 300 units. A significant piece of social media marketing for apartments is execution. Someone on behalf of your apartment community needs to consistently engage the process: either your staff or an outside consultant.
Similar to answering the phone, our leasing consultants at Urbane Apartments are required to post six original Facebook posts, some with links, per day and eight tweets, every day, no excuses. And we measure them for engagement. A one-liner doesn’t cut it; the intent is to engage a conversation.
If you have elected to trek the social media path, the cornerstone of your marketing strategy is your blog or online magazine. Note that we did not say Facebook. Your blog is not a resident newsletter, nor does it replace that. Your blog shouldn’t be about your apartment community; that would be an electronic brochure. If social media is a lead generator, then your content plan, which is the dashboard for every blog post, must be targeted toward prospects, not just residents.
Similar to Twitter, building a solid hyper local readership, with sharable, interesting content is a must for your blog effort. Simply put, if no one is reading your blog posts it is work with no payoff. As with any advertising medium that generates rental leads, you must have a following. We have just under 700 posts on our blog and just under 3,000 comments. We have around 12,000 monthly visitors, and our blog is the primary traffic source for our apartment website.
Giveaways, contests and sweepstakes are an excellent way to drive blog traffic, and in most cases the stuff we are giving away is free from the marketing partner. It makes for a win-win. We gave away 25 free tickets to a movie premier two weeks ago, with a crafted set of questions on The Urbane Life online magazine and got just under 90 comments. The cost to us was nothing.
As those comments were piling up, it was no surprise that we had our best leasing traffic day the day or two after the contest. The point is to get people talking about you, sharing things about you and your brand.
About Eric Brown
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.