Property Management Industry Expert Russ Webb Shares Insights into Social Media and Baby Boomers

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RealWorld’s one-two punch: Social media and branding, and why marketing in the property management industry should focus on Boomers

Russ Webb is a Boomer who knows a thing or two about social media. Anybody who knows him understands that in the last six years the vice president of the Atlanta Apartment Association has kept a tablet busy roaming Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media haunts.

He downloads  about a dozen apps a week (and pitches about half as many) looking for better ways to manage his lifestyle on the road, where he’s usually teaching social media to the property management industry or talking about trends.

An apartment industry veteran for nearly 25 years, he’s as digitally savvy as any Millennial. And he doesn’t mind poking fun at his generation. He gets plenty of chuckles along the way.

“I try to keep it lively but keep people engaged,” he said during downtime at June’s National Apartment Association Education Conference & Exposition in Atlanta. “I had one lady say after a session she never laughed so much but learned so much.”

His latest “edu-tainment” session on how to embrace mobile technology didn’t disappoint a mostly Boomer crowd.

Branding assets on social media is easier than most think

Webb will bring his road show to RealWorld July 16-18 in Las Vegas and offer up two sessions, one on how social platforms can open the door for effective branding in the property management industry and another on why his generation shouldn’t be ignored.

He’ll offer ideas about how properties can brand assets individually through social media and build occupancy while laying to rest some common myths behind execution of the marketing technique. Social media is an ideal way to create an authentic connection and build trust between a property’s brand and consumers, he says.

Doing so is easier than most people expect. Social media doesn’t have to break the marketing budget or require a special team of social media rangers.

“One mistake that people make about social is media is that it is an afterthought,” Webb said. “They don’t realize that it’s a mostly free form of marketing and it’s one of most viral. Having a plan is important as well as understanding what content to post.”

He warns that a one-size-fits-all approach to posting content isn’t always most effective. Webb − who has been on Facebook just about since Day 1 and was an early adopter of Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat – likes to show the good, bad and ugly.

“If you try to use every platform, sometimes you spread yourself too thin,” he said. “Multifamily companies need to have touch points with the people they are wanting to connect with. They have to understand who the audience is to direct the right message.”


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Marketing spend on Boomers should pay in long run

The message should resonate with Baby Boomers, not just the presumed younger majority of social media users. Older apartment renters need love, too, Webb says. Baby Boomers are the new hipsters in rental housing and their needs and wants are eclipsing those of Millennials.

Webb will offer some quick observations at the Rental Housing Huddle, “Catering to Baby Boomers” during the conference.

“I hate to say Boomers are downsizing, but they are looking for the right combination that better fits their lifestyles, and lot of times it’s apartment living,” he said. “In Atlanta, we’re seeing Boomers keeping homes in the suburbs and renting downtown. They want to have a presence in town so they don’t commute late at night or want to stay downtown for the weekend.”

Webb says Boomers aren’t looking for concessions and are less likely than younger renters to jump ship after one lease.

“Money spent on marketing toward them will be better off in the long run.”


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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