Making the Most of Social Media in Multifamily
Most property management companies are leveraging social media—but are they doing it the smart way?
You’d be hard pressed to find a property management company without a social media presence today. From Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and many channels in between, the multifamily industry is starting to do something more to connect with residents and prospects via social media.
Doing it right, however, is another story.
With the number of social media channels out there, and more going live every month, maintaining a presence on them poses many challenges. Which ones are right for my business or property? What and where are my residents and prospects talking? What do we communicate and what content do we share? What is the goal? Answering these questions will help any business formulate a strategy for a social media.
Bigger and bigger
The numbers of active social media users is staggering: over 2 billion people are active users of Facebook alone. Instagram has 700 million monthly active users. Twitter and Snapchat follow with 328 and 166 million respectively.
American marketers long ago realized that to promote their brands, they’d have to make social media an important component of their overall plans. And while not specific to the property management industry, the chart below provides a clear picture of how far this commitment has come.
But how much of this activity is generating real bottom-line results for the companies engaging in them – including property managers?
“Realizing they need to be on social media, an awful lot of companies just wade in without understanding what it takes to do it effectively,” says Eve Mayer, Author of The Social Media Business Equation. “Each platform has its own communication format, demographic, optimal posting frequency, etc. You have to know how to fit into the conversation.”
Mayer, who has been recognized by Forbes, CNN and Inc. Magazine for her influence in the social media industry, says that even a cursory look at the platform differences reveal a gulf of difference. For example, Pinterest is photo-based, and over 80% female; Facebook is more text-based, with a gender gap not nearly as pronounced. Pinterest has a more millennial user base, where Facebook’s base is aging. They’re two completely different environments that require different approaches and subject matter.
“Just think of the difference between a Twitter tweet and the average Facebook post, and it’s obvious you have to approach each platform differently,” Mayer says. “Not only are the communication formats vastly different, but the audiences are too, so for example if you’re trying to attract more young people to your property, you’re going to choose certain platforms over others to apply your limited resources.”
In regards to these resources, Mayer adds a surprising insight: she estimates it takes around 32 hours per month to leverage just ONE social media platform optimally. So if you’re trying to keep up with, say, just three of the many out there, you need a hundred hours of someone’s time devoted to the task. That’s a huge commitment; in fact, Mayer says it’s better to do just one platform right than three the wrong way. “Each platform presents a unique environment and demographic that demands a particular approach. Simply spewing random posts across as many platforms as possible without careful planning and tailoring is a waste of time.”
So where do you start in creating a smart strategy that gives you the most impact for the time spent?
It starts with a social media strategy
Mayer created what she calls the “Social Media Business Equation,” which illustrates a recommended breakdown of social media activity with the goal of a maximum return on time invested. The eye-opening aspect of her breakdown is that only 20% of the time is spent actually converting nurtured relationships to business. “Social media is not the same as radio, TV or apartment listings,” she says. “It’s about building relationships. Companies that just pump out messages hoping something will happen are not accomplishing much at all.”
At one extreme, she says, is a television station blasting a commercial to millions of Super Bowl fans. And at the other is a social media platform that can be as personal as, say, a property sending a “happy birthday” message to an individual resident, or dialoguing about a community event.
Mayer mentions cross-posting—pushing the same content to several platforms at once—as a good example of the wrong way to do social. Another mistake is failing to develop separate plans and messaging for reaching prospects (to get new leases) and residents (to increase loyalty and retention).
Unlike broadcast media, social media is a great tool for building a property’s aura of warmth, community, and personal attention. It’s also an effective medium for dialogue, conversation and feedback, allowing you to demonstrate your properties’ caring and professionalism. And it’s great for engaging with influencers who can help spread your message.
In terms of assigning staff to social media, Mayer warns against simply giving the job to the young person who understands it best. “The hip youngster who’s on Twitter all the time isn’t necessarily the right person to come up with content that will resonate with your target audiences.”
She also emphasizes the importance of formulating clear business goals, such as fostering resident loyalty, building the property’s reputation for social good or generating referrals and inquiries, rather than being guided by the simplistic principle “we need to be on social media.”
So, if you’re thinking about making the leap into the world of social media, feel free to dive in.
Editor’s note: We have updated and republished this article to benefit readers new to Property Management Insider.