Mastering Advanced Social Media Marketing

Your employees are your best brand ambassadors

Denver—Social media has revolutionized how business is conducted and it continues to impact the ways in which consumers interact with brands. According to Erica Campbell Byrum, director of social media at For Rent Media Solutions & Homes.com and Barbara Savona, a national speaker and marketing strategist at Sprout Marketing, the average attention span today is just nine seconds. From the very moment a prospect comes into contact with your brand, a message is being sent. If your apartment community’s branding isn’t immediately engaging, you can be sure the prospect will slip away.

Byrum and Savona presented a number of excellent ideas for connecting with consumers during their presentation “The Big Brand Theory: Every Touchpoint Counts” at the 2014 National Apartment Association Education Conference & Exposition in Denver.

For example, never forget that your employees are an extension of your marketing department. “Your employees should be your best and biggest brand ambassadors,” said Byrum. Use them as storytellers, and have them execute on your branding strategy.

If blue is your branded color, integrate this hue into the food at your event and capture these moments on Instagram and Facebook. Even better is when employees are passionate about a brand outside work and express this passion via social media. Maybe the team had decided (on their own) to paint their nails the company’s branded blue and they have posted this to Instagram. You can create content using relevant posts from employees’ own social networking sites.

Or take a page from hospitality company Hyatt which has provided a new reason for employees to get fired up about important environmental issues. Hyatt has activated employee involvement to tackle issues like climate change and biodiversity. Hyatt employees around the world use a corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive, and a Facebook-like interface to post photos, questions and presentations about their local sustainability efforts.

Clif Bar & Company created buzz on social media by starting a bike share program for employees who bike to work and want to shower when they get there.

These are just two of the many creative ways that businesses are crowd sourcing content from employees that can then be used in marketing campaigns.

“When an employee [posts about their company], it comes from the same place that endears you to a brand,” said Savona. This strategy can be just as easily implemented by small companies. “We have fewer than five in our office, so you don’t need to be a large team or large company,” she adds. Also popular are Meet the Team pages. It’s easy to incorporate stories about employees and the brand on your company’s homepage. Consumers are looking for authenticity. You can provide it by using employees’ stories.

Visual storytelling is one of largest trends out there in social media. Use video to showcase fun time such as a team lunch or resident event. It could be a 15 second Instagram video; it doesn’t have to be a high-end production.

But remember that all social media channels still need to link back to the website. Consistent visuals, fonts and messaging across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc. are key to brand affirmation and also help differentiate you from the competition.

“Every detail speaks to your brand,” says Byrum. “An established building can be a nice product but have some disconnects if the message and clientele are not consistent with the brand.” When the community has an address in the name it’s tricky. Various marketing assets may spell the name differently. This results in a diluted message and of course create problems with search engine optimization.

If you use a hashtag across your site, the crowd will come and use that hashtag as well.

While people share your social media assets, your brand goes with it. So make sure all brand elements are there. One way to work smarter not harder is by sharing print assets already created and pushing them down to social media channels.

Also ensure that the marketing language is really selling the community’s best features and setting it apart from the competition. What’s your best asset? If the apartment community is just a three minute drive to the biggest employer in town, shoot a video of the drive there with the leasing agent to illustrate that selling point.

“Brand doesn’t happen by accident,” Savona noted. “It’s not built overnight. You can’t leave it to chance.”