Apartments can no longer ignore social media – this we know.  But how can you best leverage social media platforms?  Residents are now turning to social media for recommendations, leasing info and customer service and this trend will only continue as a younger, social-media savvy generation comes of age for multifamily properties. 

As we’ve discussed before, you should be approaching social media like a cocktail party.  You need to take the time to meet the other people at the party (residents, neighborhood businesses, millennial renters, etc.).  Only when the conversation presents itself should you share what makes your community so great.  In the meantime, be a resource for your residents – Facebook is great for doing just that. 

Why Engage on Facebook?

Misty Sanford, owner of North of Creative explains to multifamily properties the importance of providing fresh, helpful content.  “Four years ago, you were finding residents.  Nowadays, residents are finding you,” said Misty about the leasing process today.  “People are searching online for places to live and it has become the apartment’s job to intercept them.  You do this by providing fresh content, sharing helpful information and having conversations.”

Oftentimes, multifamily professionals will claim that social media doesn’t bring them any conversions.  However, Misty explains that her view of social media is far too narrow.  “Social media is not about the sale, it’s about engagement and the customer experience,” Misty says. “When you do these things well (engaging, sharing quality content), the byproducts are relationships, referrals, leases and retention.

Any good salesman will tell you that relationship building drives sales.  And Facebook is an optimal relationship-building platform. 

What Does “Helpful Content” Look Like

Well, that depends on what kind of property you are, who your residents are, where you’re located, etc.  Here are some guidelines. 

Who Are Your Residents?

What kind of lifestyle do they have?  What are their hobbies, pain points?  This is where your resident personas come in handy.  If your community is home to several working professionals, helpful content may come in the form of quick-and-easy dinner recipes.  If your community is home to several dog owners, you could share an interactive map of dog parks in your city.  The information you share should be a mix of content you create and content you aggregate. 

What’s Going on in Your Neighborhood?

Are there any upcoming events that you can pass along to your residents – festivals, charity events, happy hours?  Find things that are in walking distance or close proximity to your property.  Sharing helpful content could be as simple as re-posting farmers market hours, sharing restaurant specials or providing tips and tricks for navigating the local flea market.  Try partnering with local businesses to arrange special discounts for your residents; this provides great content for sharing on Facebook. 

What’s Going on at Your Property?

We’ve advised against talking about yourself, however, this form of self-promotion is very different.  Instead of telling everyone how great you are, show them.  For example, posting photos from last week’s movie event showcases your property’s social calendar and paints a picture of resident engagement.  Isn’t that what you’d like new residents to stumble upon when they’re researching your property?

The benefits of Facebook engagement are two-fold:  not only does it foster resident relationships (and ultimately retention), but it provides a window for prospective residents to peer into your community.  With Facebook, we embrace this customer-centric approach that lays the foundation for all of our digital marketing efforts. 

Kerie Kerstetter is the Director of Content Strategy for a digital marketing agency in Dallas that specializes in both multifamily and mixed-use development.  Reprinted with permission of Rooflines.