Utilize Social Media To Enhance Your Community's Brand
With 2019 coming to an end, we’re taking a look into one of the most influential marketing platforms of the last decade – Social Media. According to the Pew Research Center1, 69 percent of all U.S. adults now use at least one social media platform and this number growing year-over-year. In this article, we will discuss how to best optimize your social media platforms to improve your community’s brand awareness, resident engagement, lead generation, and online reputation.
First things first; cleanup! Although it may seem elementary, establishing policies and procedures that guarantee all social sites reflect accurate and updated information is paramount to the success of the platform. Social media sites should be treated as an extension of the community’s website; however, there is more to cleanup involved than simply updating contact information. Ensuring the community’s voice, style, look, and feel is accurately reflected is just as necessary when creating a cohesive brand and strong brand awareness.
A resident or prospect should be able to easily identify the community and brand by simply glancing at their social site. By showcasing consistent content and media across all platforms, a simple, straight forward, and engaging user experience will be created. Focusing on cohesion of information across all platforms is the single most important factor for creating strong brand awareness and without strong brand awareness, it is nearly impossible to achieve success in regards to social resident engagement, lead generation, and online reputation.
With your social media sites cleaned up, what’s next? It is time to set your social media goals by focusing on resident engagement as the top priority. According to SatisFacts 2019 Online Renter Study2 social media is one of the top five drivers of perception of value. Perception of value is the #1 driver for renewals, and has been since 2013. Research has also proven that although social sites build brand awareness, social media plays less of a role in the leasing decision than it does in the perception of value.
To best engage your residents, you must know your demographics. Many communities house a wide variety of resident demographics so it is important to utilize multiple social media platforms to provide all residents with the opportunity to engage with the community no matter their social platform preference. With Facebook and Instagram reigning supreme within the multi-family industry it is critical to understand which demographics are engaging on which platform. Facebook users tend to include Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, or those 40+ year of age. Instagram users tend to include Generation Y, Millennials, and Generation Z, or those 40 years of age or younger.
Constantly creating new and engaging content for your residents can seem like a daunting task but with a few simple processes, it can be fun and dare I say… easy? When creating a new post, always focus on content that your community stands behind, has a positive message, is informative, and promotes engagement. By focusing on community and neighborhood specific content, you will provide valuable and engaging content for your residents. Are you simply out of ideas? Try following local businesses in your area that relate to your residents’ interests. You can then easily cross-promote by simply sharing the business’s post directly through the social platform. Also try setting up Google Alerts to notify you when great events are happening in the area so you can share the content with your residents.
You may be asking yourself, if all content should be focused on resident engagement, how do we focus on lead generation? Currently, the most effective way to generate leads through social media is to pay-to-play; however, for low-budget communities, continuing the focus on brand awareness and resident engagement will result in lead generation. By simply having an accurate and updated social platform and having high resident engagement within the platform, the social site will already be a great representation of the lifestyle your community offers to your residents and ultimately attract a higher quality of prospect than other advertising platforms can offer.
If your community does have the budget for sponsored ads through social sites – spend it! Not only does social media offer the unique ability to target specific audiences which leads to high quality leads for a reasonably low cost, but the information gained from social ads can be used across all marketing platforms. For example, by running some simple A/B testing, you can analyze which images, amenities, or even verbiage performs best and then use that information to adjust your other marketing platforms accordingly. This information takes a relatively short period of time to obtain and is relatively simple to gain in comparison to other platforms.
Your online reputation also supports lead generation. On social media sites, your online reputation is much more than just recommendations or reviews. It is how you engage with your residents and prospects. Are you responding to resident comments on your posts? Are you ‘liking’ your residents’ posts? Are you keeping a pulse on what others are posting about you? If not, you may not be truly managing your reputation. Taking an interest, engaging, and knowing what others are saying about your community is critical to managing your online reputation. Engaging with others on social media is just as important as others engaging with you.
When managing your reputation, with reviews or comments, it is important to take ownership, be respectful, and respond in a timely manager – no matter the content. Although your social site should be an authentic representation of the environment of your community, it is still important to use a customer-centric voice and tone when engaging. Your social site reflects a multi-million-dollar investment and once you have posted your content or media to a social platform, you have posted it to the world.