Is Your Social Media Campaign Effective?

Measuring your social media presence

Your apartment community is on social media. Now what? Do you know which campaigns are successful or what your residents are responding to?

Like all marketing campaigns for your community, it is important to keep an eye on social media. There are several online programs that can track social media analytics for free, such as the analytics Facebook provides, and Google Analytics. However, though these services provide some useful numbers, they usually only scratch the surface.

“You can utilize a number of different tools to measure analytics from Facebook, Pinterest, etc.,” says Charity Zierten, owner, Socially Engaged Marketing. “The problem is, the more you want to measure, the more expensive that becomes. There are not a lot of free options out there.”

There are many services you could pay for to get in-depth numbers on your social media campaigns. However, keep in mind that social media is constantly changing, and what was once considered a crucial metric might have fallen from favor. Take, for example, the number of Facebook “likes” a post receives.

“I don’t care about ‘likes’ anymore,” Kate Good, speaker and director of multifamily development and operations at Hunington Residential, says. “I’m way more interested in how many people viewed our posts, how many people responded to our posts, and what type of activity we got. When people respond, they’re engaging with us, and that’s what we want.”

“Likes,” and similar metrics, might not give a good indication of a post’s success anymore. Plus it is very easy to artificially inflate these numbers.

“Those soft analytics are deceiving,” Zierten says. “For $5 I can get 200 likes on my page.”

Measuring what matters

So if hard numbers on social media campaigns don’t necessarily give a good overview—or are just too expensive to track—what should marketers look for?
Well, it depends.

“Measurement is going to depend on your goals, and every community has a different goal,” Zierten explains. “If your goal is just to connect with residents, then measuring the value of that can be very challenging and may be less important than the actual activity.”

Goals can vary from getting new leases to just getting engagement on the page.

Terri Sherrod, director of branding and marketing at Post Apartment Homes, says she uses social media at her community to keep residents informed about events.
“Post uses Facebook in particular as a tool to let residents know what’s going on in the community, whether it’s Post organized events or just local area events,” Sherrod says. “We also use it to share discounts that local businesses offer to our residents.”

If disseminating community information is your social media goal, then you can see in real time if your campaign was successful by seeing how many people show up at the event.
The best way to lead an effective campaign is to post information that is useful, relevant and interesting to your residents.

“People are really filtering out the noise,” Zierten says. “The key is to share not necessarily information about the apartment community itself, but about the local community, things people actually do care about—like real estate agents do! If leasing agents took a similar approach, they might find better results.”

Also key is knowing your audience. “You have to get to know your residents and what they respond to,” Good says. “In student housing we could get 40 people interacting on our Facebook page, all for a pizza. Would that work in a Class A property? Probably not. We’d probably have to give away an iPad. You have to do something different based on the demographic.”

And, when using social media, don’t limit yourself to just communicating with residents. Social media could also be used to communicate with other leasing professionals. “We have recruited more qualified candidates through LinkedIn and no longer have to use an executive search firm when filling the corporate-level positions,” Sherrod says.

Mix it up

To ensure that your social media presence is reaching a wide audience it is important to use multiple sites.

“I do think that we need a social marketing mix,” Good says. “If you’re only on Facebook, you’re going to have results. But when you bring Pinterest into that and Twitter, and posting things on YouTube, you’re going to get more interaction. Not everyone is a Tweeple, not everyone is a Pinhead. But we have all those people in our audience, and they’re going to respond and react.”

Also, pay attention to those smartphones!

“Mobile is really, really big, and you can measure that,” Zierten says.
Measuring your social media presence might seem challenging, but ultimately, if you’re on different platforms and getting responses from residents, you’ll know you’re on the right track.

“I’ve heard many people say, ‘We don’t measure success with social anymore—we’re not worried about that. We need to be there, and the measurement is almost irrelevant,’” Zierten says. “We have to be in that space, whether we want to or not. It’s like having a telephone. You have to have a telephone, whether you want one or not. You have to have a Facebook page, and if you don’t update it, and your competitors do…well, you never know.”

To comment, e-mail Jessica Fiur at jfiur@multi-housingnews.com