Trending on Twitter: Bozzuto Awards Make a Splash

This year, Bozzuto's hashtag for its awards reception organically trended on Twitter. MHN talked to Alex Middel, Bozzuto's digital media strategist about how they accomplished this.

alexmiddelheadshotBy Leah Etling, Contributing Editor

Every year, The Bozzuto Group recognizes its top property management performers with a late winter gala that’s more like the Academy Awards than a rote corporate get-together. This year, the event truly reached superstar status when #BMA2014—the Twitter hashtag for the event–trended on the social network while it was taking place.

For those unfamiliar with social media parlance, “trending” on Twitter means that a hashtag is being used frequently enough that it is recognized network-wide as being a pervasive happening with mass appeal. If you log onto Twitter, you’ll see the constantly changing “Trends” section just below “Who to follow.” #BMA2014 trended organically, meaning Bozzuto did not pay for its placement on the list.

It’s possible—maybe even likely—that this is the first time in history a multifamily real estate awards event has garnered this kind of social media traction. So we went to the source of the company’s Twitter strategy, Digital Media Strategist Alex Middel, to find out more.

MHN: Tell me about your Twitter strategy for Bozzuto and how it enhances your brand.

Middel: Social media is a major part of our marketing strategy. You could say that our Twitter strategy is very much guided by some of The Bozzuto Group’s guiding principles and goals: building great communities. Part of that comes from making sure that we invest the time to interact with our fans and followers and help them in any way that we can. Whether that’s by answering customer service requests, providing more information about leasing at one of our communities, sharing news about Bozzuto, or showcasing the fun and innovative things we’re doing at Bozzuto and our communities, it’s all there for our followers to see.

MHN: How have you incorporated Twitter into property marketing and advertising?

Middel: Every single Bozzuto community is on Twitter. They all manage their own pages and contribute to it frequently. Very similar to our Bozzuto-branded social media channels, our communities use these platforms to interact with residents and friends in and around their neighborhood, share pictures, provide updates and news about local happenings and other areas of interests that our residents and neighbors may have.

MHN: For your BMA event, when did you start advocating for employees to participate and what methods did you use to get their engagement?

Middel: Our employees are always going to be our biggest advocate when it comes to our business, the services we provide and the products we offer.  When it comes to marketing our company or our brand, the “word of mouth” factor is invaluable and we leverage that through social media because it allows us to tap into a larger audience through our employees’ friends and followers in a way that is much more genuine and relevant.

Since we are so active on social media at our communities, our staff has become very familiar with each platform and as a result, many have become active through their own, personal Twitter profiles. We have always provided direction and offered resources for our employees to create accounts along with “Best Practices” guides to get them started if they are new. This made it much easier to communicate our plan to use #BMA2014 as the official hashtag of the event since most everyone was going to be Tweeting and posting pictures anyways.

MHN: What kind of instruction or theme did you use to get their participation/buy-in?

Middel: The participation/buy-in wasn’t really a challenge; everyone knew this would be a lot of fun. Earlier in the year we surpassed 10,000 Facebook ‘Likes.’ Around the same time, a new mobile app called JumpCam popped up on our radar and we thought it would be a great opportunity to test it out. So we set up a clip thanking everyone for helping us reach 10,000 Likes and sent our properties details on how to add their own video clip.

Since we all had such a blast with it and it turned out so well, we wanted to try to find another way we could all come together and do something fun via social media. For the JumpCam videos, those where submitted from all over the East Coast from a number of communities in our portfolio. For the BMA’s, it was a little easier with all of us being in one place, celebrating a great year at Bozzuto!

MHN: Was trending your ultimate goal? If not what objectives did you have in mind?

Middel: Trending on Twitter was more of a bi-product of what we were trying to achieve. The ultimate goal was to get as many Bozzuto employees on Twitter by encouraging everyone to contribute in their own way, together as a group. We did create a hashtag for the event (“#bma2014”) and it was definitely on our radar that it was possible for us to trend, but we wanted to get everyone involved, even more so than they already where, more than anything.

MHN: Describe the traction that you got and how you felt the evening unfolded online?

Middel: The traction was great! I was monitoring the feed the whole day and you could feel it building minute to minute—it was exciting. The true plan was for everyone to get on Twitter after the event, between the hours of 8pm and 9pm, and tweet a message including the hashtag #BMA2014.

The morning of the event I was seeing Tweet after Tweet from around the East Coast from property staff making their way to Washington, D.C., for the event. Pictures of everyone getting dressed up, excited Tweets about the night ahead, group selfies on airplanes, you name it! I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had started trending even before the event started. We ran a report the next day and found that #BMA2014 had reached more than 110,000 accounts and received more than 3 million impressions—something I don’t think has ever been done by any real estate company in the country.

MHN: What lessons did you take from this experience that you will use in the future?

Middel: Focus on the fun. One thing I’ve found to be very true since I’ve started working for Bozzuto is that all the awards and recognition Bozzuto receives for being a great place to work is so well deserved. We genuinely love working together and we’re always going to put forth a grand effort for each other because of it. But, when you make it fun and let everyone’s creativity run wild, that’s when everything really shines; that’s when you really see what Bozzuto is all about.

MHN: What advice do you have for other multifamily firms that would like to get more engagement from residents/employees on Twitter?

Middel: Twitter is supposed to be a fun way to bring people together. Nobody wants to follow or engage with someone that’s posting negative news. So, never be negative. Also (and I see this a lot) if you are a business that is always talking about yourself, even if it’s great stuff, you’re not giving people a chance to engage and join the conversation, which is what you should strive to achieve. After all, the whole point is to build a community that others can be a part of.

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