Advice for promoting and growing your business online.
Whether you’re checking news, connecting with friends, or just looking at funny cat memes, chances are social media is part of your world.
But in property management, it is also part of our business world. We look on Facebook for information on companies. We use LinkedIn to connect with staff, partners or clients. We use Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest to gather ideas and to promote our brands.
But is being on social media really a necessity for the property management industry?
We think it is. This guide will share not only why, but also show you how social can be used effectively in our industry, without sucking up too much of your time, energy or money.
First, we’ll run you through some of the ways social can work for you, and then we’ll go through each of the key social channels we have seen property managers use well, and give you some pro tips on leveraging them.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA MATTERS
- 78% of the U.S. population has a social media profile.
- The average social media user has 7 accounts (up from 3 accounts in 2012).
- Tha average American has an average of 5 social media accounts.
- Americans spend an average of 1 hour and 40 minutes on social media a day.
- 97% of online adults aged 16-64 visited a social media network in 2017.
- Americans have an average of 5 social media accounts.
- 62% of U.S. adults get their news from social media.
- The number of active social media users is growing at a 17% growth rate since 2015.
- Over 90% of employers use social media for recruiting.
- People check their phones on average 150 times a day.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA MATTERS IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
- Putting social media to work for you will:
- Let the world know about your business - Social media is the perfect way to let people know who you are and what you do. Post photos of your team at work, share a customer testimonial video, and offer stories that reflect your brand identity.
- Attract tenants and owner/partners - You promote your properties when they are vacant, but with social you can build and keep a permanent audience to amplify your properties and services—finding new tenants and owners.
- Form great relationships - Through posts, photos, videos and messaging, your audience of owners, residents and partners can engage with and get to know you. Become their go-to source for relevant news and they will be more inclined to like, comment or even share your posts!
GET FOUND ON GOOGLE
Social can also impact your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results. SEO, in a nutshell, means if someone types “1 bedroom apartment in Chicago” into Google, and you have one available, your property will pop up, ranked high on the list. Or, if an owner types “Chicago area property management”, again, your company will be near the top of the list. You can ensure a good SEO ranking by creating good content on your website and sharing it on social. The more content you produce and promote, the more you will be seen online, ultimately leading more traffic to your site and more exposure to your audience.
BUILD YOUR REPUTATION
So now people know you exist, and they are even following you. But you still need to convince them they want to do business with you. Turns out, social media is good for that, too.
• Walk the walk—Build a solid track record and communicate your business’ values with a voice that is relatable, consistent, and shows who you are.
• Provide fantastic customer service—Your customers may seek you out on social for help or advice. How you respond (and how quickly) shows who you really are!
• Encourage reviews—Studies show that prospective clients respond to favorable reviews. Facebook allows users to review your business, so encourage happy customers to post about you there!
SOCIAL MEDIA FUNDAMENTALS
Here’s a five step social media strategy to employ across all your channels:
1. Determine your long-term strategic goals - What do you want social media to do for your business? If you’re trying to attract new customers you might post content on real estate investing. If you want to fill vacancies you’ll want to post listings and lifestyle content. If you hope to increase resident engagement, you can share photos or posts related to fun activities you are hosting on your properties. Your goals will determine who your primary audience is. Is it tenants? Prospective applicants? Owners? A combination of all or even another group? Once you know who you are trying to reach, you then must think of their wants, needs and interests, and craft your brand and content accordingly.
2. Audit your pre-existing accounts - Establish a baseline for where you are now in social media use. How many followers or connections do you have? How many likes or shares do you have?
Look at your pre-existing posts and see if they align with the interests of the audience you identified above. Have you got personal stuff you should delete? Clean up and delete old content that doesn’t fit your audience.
Assess your profiles and branding. Are you on all the channels you want to be on? Are your profiles professional in nature or do you need new ones? Update your profile pictures. Consider using your company’s logo. Consistent profile pictures and cover photos across all channels will help your audience recognize you wherever they find you!
3. Set your specific goals for each channel - You know what you want social to do for you in the long term, so now plan out short term goals for your business. Pick one or two key goals for each channel you want to focus on. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you to create content, measure progress, and ultimately meet your goals. Here are a few examples:
- Increase applications
- Increase number of portfolio/owner leads
- Build number of followers
- Increase engagement (likes, shares, etc)
- Increase website traffic
- Increase tenant or customer referrals
- Improve tenant or resident relationships
4. Design your content - Now you know your audience and what you want from them. Time to create posts that entertain, educate and reward. Here are post types to consider:
Blog posts/original content: If you have a blog, share your posts to drive traffic to your site and increase subscribers! If not, it’s never too late to create one. Consider an easy blog site such as Wix, Blogger or Tumblr and post content that informs or educates. You could also post stories and articles directly to a social channel like Facebook.
Photos and videos: Visuals will attract the most engagement because they stand out in a news feed. In fact, posts with images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. They are ideal for more visual channels like Pinterest or Instagram. Share photos of anything from your office pet, to listings, to video of a severe storm.
Listings: If you are trying to attract new tenants, showcasing your listings across platforms is a great use of social.
Third-party articles or video: Social media is a major outlet for news. Over half of U.S. adults use it to stay up-to-date or to learn things. Share relevant articles so you don’t always appear to be self-promoting, and to make people look forward to your posts.
Testimonials or reviews: Customer stories are another form of content worth sharing. Whenever possible, let tenants or customers speak for themselves.
5. Get the right tools for managing and measuring your progress - All this might seem a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry! There are plenty of tools available to help simplify.
Automation tools. If you don’t have time to sit by your computer all day and post things, look into a tool like Hootsuite. You can see all your social channels in one place and schedule postings ahead of time. Plus, the basic version is free! Another useful tool to help you grow your Twitter account is Manageflitter, which can help you find new people to follow based on keywords, show you who has recently unfollowed you and suggest the best times of the day to tweet.
Tracking/measurement. As the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets managed.” Don’t forget to keep track of how you are doing so you can modify your strategy or do more of what works. Most social channels provide their own in-app analytics tools that you can click on to track progress. The most important things to track are: follower growth, engagement (likes, comments, shares or retweets) and your referral traffic to your website. This will indicate how often your audience is clicking on your content and viewing your website. If you have a website or blog, use a free tool like Google Analytics to track visitors and referral traffic from social.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Social
As you can see, there are lots of methods for using social media to promote your business and your reputation. But there are also some things NOT to do. Let’s touch on a few “do’s and don’ts”.
DO show a personal side to your business. Share enough of your personal world to be human and fun, like office pets or team outings.
DON’T get too personal - Protect your privacy by keeping your work and home social media lives separate.
DO create a new Twitter handle, and Instagram account for your work persona, and encourage your staff to do the same. Create a Facebook business page rather than using your personal page.
DO keep conversations professional - Make sure you don’t flirt or argue, complain, brag or get too intimate with personal details or photos online. Remember that the entire world is watching these exchanges and will make assessments accordingly.
DON’T discuss politics - We all know political discussions can get nasty.
Social media is full of politically charged discussions now more than ever, and it may be tempting to join in at times, but we suggest you steer clear and avoid offending customers needlessly.
DO be ethical and honest. Honesty—or dishonesty—will be quickly noticed in the social media environment. If you’re online, you’re on the record—everything on the Internet is public and searchable. So:
- DON’T share any confidential information
- DON’T make promises that aren’t backed up
- DON’T make claims you can’t support
- DON’T slam vendors, tenants or the competition
DO keep your cool. There may be times when customers, residents or tenants want to interact negatively with you on social media, and you should be prepared. Here are some things to be cautious of or avoid:
DON’T engage with trolls - Some people just want to complain and bait you into a fight. While it is important to engage initially to let them know you care about their opinion, continuing to engage may put you at risk of escalating the issue and attracting more attention. Follow our 3-Step plan for crisis management.
DO take responsibility. Did you screw up? If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with a correction. If you modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.
3 Step Crisis Management Plan
Step 1: Assess
Ask the following questions:
- Is what they are saying true?
- Are they engaging in comments based on an issue, or general complaint?
- Do you have (or can you find) a helpful answer?
- Can you correct or clarify a misconception?
- Is it becoming a dog-pile/negativity storm?
- Step 2: Respond
Respond only if you can do one of the following:
- Offer a solution or fix
- Clarify a misconception or gently correct an error
- Offer empathy or an apology for their frustration
- Assure them you care and are solving or escalating their issue
- Try to divert further negative comments and offer to resolve the topic offline via email or a phone call
- Express empathy
- Humanize yourself and the company if you can, encourage the poster to retract, follow up or modify the negative statement
Step 3: Refrain
Refrain from comment under these circumstances:
- If the attacks are ad hominem (personal rants just for the sake of it) or you will be unable to offer clarity, a solution, or an apology
- If the thread has gone off the rails and posting would be counter-productive
- If you have already offered clarity, a solution, or an apology and they are still complaining
- If you’re in a ping-pong match and no longer offering substance
- If you would be defensive
- If you would only attack or try to score points from the poster
Navigating Social Channels
Tips on how to become a power user for property management over social channels:
Facebook is a great social media channel to showcase who you are—with more in-depth or longer content, videos and photos. It is the most popular social media channel, used by 79% of the world’s internet users, and the one where you are most likely to find owners and residents. People will often turn to Facebook to determine if a company is “legit.”
Facebook allows you to upload photos and videos, share insightful content or articles and give updates on your business. These capabilities can help you to gain exposure to new prospects and establish a solid relationship with owners or prospective tenants. Facebook is also helpful for communicating with your existing customers or tenants. Whether it’s through comments or messages, it’s easier than ever to interact with your audience, providing you with the opportunity to build your reputation! Having a dedicated Facebook profile, separate from your personal account, is also a great way to drive traffic to your website. By posting blogs, listings or other links to your website, you grow the exposure of your business, and a business page will also allow reviews.
- 1.86 Billion Active Users
- 214 Million Active Monthly Users in the I.S.
- Facebook Drives 25% of All Web Referral Traffic
- 79% of Internet Users Use Facebook
- 62% of Adults 60+ Are Now using FaceBook - a 14% increase over last year
- The average user spends nearly 50 minutes a day on FaceBook
- FaceBook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement
- 73% of people say they use FaceBook for professional purposes
- Content consumption on FaceBook has increased by 57% in the past 2 years
- 39% of marketers are adding video to their social media strategy within the next year
TIPS FOR FACEBOOK
- Try posting content at least 2-4 times per week. Types of posts could include a blog post, a news article or even a photo.
- Posts with images tend to see much higher engagement because they are eye-catching so try to always include an image in your post.
- Make sure the “About” section of your page is up to date and filled out.
- Double check to make sure your phone number, website and address are correctly listed. This is imperative for when your audience is trying to contact you!
FEATURES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF:
- CTA Button - Facebook provides the option to have a customizable CTA (call-to-action) button at the top of your profile. Here you can link to your website and drive traffic back to your site.
- FB Messenger - This tool has become a popular way for users to get in touch with businesses due to its simplicity. Your responsiveness over messenger reflects your customer service, so don’t ignore it! Try to respond to all messages within a few hours.
- 360˚photos - The new feature allows you to view a photo from different angles as if you were physically there seeing what you are viewing. It’s very simple to do too! All you need to do is take a panoramic photo and upload it to your page.
- Live video - Facebook Live is a more recent feature but has become wildly popular. Even other social media platforms are taking after the trend by adding their own take on it. The feature allows you to live record and share videos with your followers.
CONTENT IDEAS FOR FACEBOOK
- Run a contest to increase your engagement with your customers or tenants without a lot of effort. Perhaps a photo contest of the local area or a caption contest for a photo you post.
- Link to your blog posts or third party articles.
- Use Facebook as a blog, if you don’t have one, sharing stories or articles you’ve written.
- Share listings for vacant properties.
- Share upcoming events or community interest stories.
- Publish handy information for common areas or emergencies.
- Use the 360˚ photo feature to showcase vacant properties.
SPENDING MONEY ON FACEBOOK
Facebook Ads let you boost posts and have them show on the newsfeeds of your own customizable audience based on location, age, gender, language, interests, and behavior. A little money here can go a long way and help get your name out there, but it also can get expensive. Most property management companies will not spend money for year-round promotions. They may, however, try putting spend behind a specific post in order to gain exposure and add followers or achieve a specific short-term goal. For example, you could advertise a post showing photos and details on a vacancy or new building. Short campaigns that you track closely are worth trying. If you see results, try more.
Twitter is a very fast paced channel. With its restriction of 140 characters per post, the platform is meant for short, quick and constant bursts of content. Users typically use Twitter as a source for staying updated on news or events and we don’t see it as a heavily trafficked channel for many owners or property managers.
However, many tenants—especially millennials, do use the platform frequently. Some property managers will skip Twitter entirely. However, customers or tenants often consider Twitter a quick way of getting in contact with business, and it is a good way to cultivate relationships. A note of warning: if you use this channel, it is important that you are checking for notifications!
- 319 Million monthly active users worldwide
- 67 Million monthly active users in the U.S.
- 66% of active users have discovered a small business on Twitter
- 54% of Twitter users reported they had taken action after seeing a brand mentioned in tweets
- 85% of people say they feel more connected to a business after they follow them
- 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a business when a tweet is responded to
- In the past two years, content consumption on Twitter has increased by 25%
- Tweets with images get 150% more retweets
TIPS FOR TWITTER
- Follow people. Many will follow you back.
- Try to schedule tweets for 2-3 times per day.
- Try testing out different times of the day to tweet. Typically the morning, lunchtime and afternoon are the times users are most active. To see exactly what times work best for your audience, try using ManageFlitter’s “Power post” feature.
- Use #hashtags. A hashtag is a word or phrase after a pound sign (#) and indicates a specific topic. Click on a hashtag in a post and it will show a live feed of the tweets using that word. Twitter provides lists of local trending hashtags. By including them in tweets, such as #ForRentNYC or #DallasRentals, you will get more exposure to your target audience. Be aware that spaces and punctuation will interrupt a hashtag.
- The more you tweet and use relevant hashtags, the faster you’ll grow your follower base!
- Include some type of image or GIF in your tweets. This will help them stand out in the sea of tweets.
- Make sure the content you are tweeting is relevant and provides value to your property management audience.
- Retweeting other users is another great way to gain exposure and build your reputation. Try to retweet others a few times per week.
- Small gestures such as a follow, retweet or like can go a long way when trying to grow your Twitter presence. If you find a Tweet interesting or funny, give it a like!
CONTENT IDEAS FOR TWITTER
- Promote your own content or industry news.
- Use Twitter to update your customers during emergency situations such as a fire or severe storm.
- Use tweets to promote your community events or send out reminders.
- Twitter polls are a fun way to engage your audience as well, and they are simple to create! For example, you could poll your tenants asking their advice on what type of community activities they would be interested in.
SPENDING MONEY ON TWITTER
Paid advertising is an option on Twitter, though we rarely see a use for property managers.
Instagram is the most visual platform, made for strictly sharing photos and videos. The platform has gained a lot of traction due to the rising trend of mobile-photography. It has also become a great marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. While a majority of users tend to follow businesses, the channel presents the perfect opportunity to put your creative skills to work and tell your brand’s story visually. So have fun with it and don’t be afraid to try new things!
- 600 Million active monthly users
- 78 Million active monthly users in the U.S.
- 32% of internet users use Instagram
- 59% of adults 18-29 use Instagram
- 70.7% of brands are expected to be on Instagram in 2017
- 75% of Instagram users take action – visit a website
- 952 Million photos and videos are shared per day
- 70% of Instagrammers follow a business on Instagram
- 33% of marketers are joining Instagram within the next year
TIPS FOR INSTAGRAM
- Hashtags are also popular on Instagram and can increase your exposure and engagement. Think of a hashtag to use for your own business and use it with all of your posts to help expose your profile. Encourage tenants to use your hashtags or use popular tags you see!
- Take advantage of Instagram’s tagging features. This includes both the location and profile tagging. When showcasing properties, location tagging is a simple way to show their location.
- When posting a photo of a resident or owner, give them a shout out by tagging their profile! It’s a great way to include them, plus everyone appreciates a moment in the spotlight!
- If you are showing your vacant units - make sure your photos are great quality, tasteful and appealing! For tips on how to take great photos of your properties, check out our guide, Take Amazing Property Photos with Your Phone.
BONUS: APPS FOR PHOTO EDITING
- You don’t have to hire a professional photographer to have great photos. VSCO (iOS/Android) is a fun app that allows you to edit photos and apply filters.
- Boomerang (iOS/Android) is a fun video app that loops short videos forward and backwards.
- Layout (iOS/Android) is another photo editing app that allows you to create picture collages
CONTENT IDEAS FOR INSTAGRAM
- Share behind-the-scenes photos of employees working on a specific project or volunteering for a local charity.
- Share photos of properties, apartment amenities and community events.
- Share photos of local destinations, dining, events and new stores and become a source for sharing all things local! Your local businesses will appreciate it!
- Consider running photo contests to interact with your tenants and build community. Ideas include a cutest pet photo contest, holiday decorations or interior design. Create a hashtag and have your tenants use it to find entries!
- Share photos of property events—from a summer pool party to bake-off—and show how much fun it is to live on your property.
SPENDING MONEY ON INSTAGRAM
Paid advertising is possible on Instagram, but not many property managers will run a year-round promotion. The opportunity is worth exploring when trying to fill vacant units and attract new tenants—particularly if you have many similar vacancies at once.
LinkedIn is more of a business and employment-oriented platform and for property managers is most useful for networking with owners or employees. If you’re looking to hire, you can list your open positions.
Through the groups feature you can join discussions based on specific topics or industries. Contributing to these group discussions and providing valuable insight can help expose your business and help build up your reputation.
- 433 Million registered LinkedIn users
- 40% of users check LinkedIn daily
- LinkedIn is the only social media platform where usage rates are higher among 30-49 year olds
- 32% of employed adults are on LinkedIn
- 79% of B2B marketers view LinkedIn as an effective source for generating B2B leads
- 100 Million LinkedIn users are over 50
TIPS FOR LINKEDIN
- Once you begin to grow your follower base, LinkedIn is a great platform to cross-promote content such as blog posts, news articles or other promotions.
- Because LinkedIn is a more professional platform, you will most likely be reaching owners rather than tenants and therefore, you’ll want to promote content that appeals to them.
- Establish connections with people you meet at networking events.
- Try to post at least 1-2 times per week to keep the channel active.
- As you gain more traction and followers, you may want to increase to 2-4 times per week, depending on the engagement you are seeing.
CONTENT IDEAS FOR LINKEDIN
- Make sure your profile credentials are filled out and up-to-date. This will help your prospects or future new hires get to know you and contact you.
- On your Careers page, consider discussing your business’ values and share some of the fun things you do with your team. Let others know why you are such a great business to work for!
- LinkedIn Articles are another way to help gain exposure and credibility for your business. Similar to a blog post, you can write an article and publish it on LinkedIn for users to read and share. These articles are great for cross-promoting on your other platforms as well and for driving traffic back to your site!
- Join or create your own LinkedIn group to connect people in your area, then share articles and conversations in that forum.
SPENDING MONEY ON LINKEDIN
If you find you want to use LinkedIn to send InMail to non-contacts you might consider upgrading to a professional subscription. Otherwise the paid options on LinkedIn are probably only useful for the largest firms who are looking to generate leads.
If you choose to spend money, you can sponsor posts and target a specific audience of your choice.
Pinterest is very popular in lifestyle blogging circles, and therefore a good platform to try to reach prospective tenants or those who influence them. Users will share “pins” or images linked to a website and pin them to their own personal boards on their profile. The site is where most go for ideas, inspiration or tips on decoration.
You can use it to share photos of your units or amenities on your properties or to offer pro tips for things like apartment living or gardening.
- 100 Million active monthly users
- 85% Female
- 42% of U.S. women use Pinterest
- 30% of social media users are on Pinterest
- 2Billion searches on Pinterest per month
- 5% of referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest
- Male users have grown by 120% in the past year
TIPS FOR PINTEREST
- Try to pin at least a few times a week in order to help grow your follower base and drive traffic to your profile.
- This can include both repinning from other’s boards and creating your own pins to add to your board.
- Following other businesses will also help you to grow your follower base and provide you with more content to repin!
- When creating your own pins, make sure you link back to your website. For example, when creating a pin from your blog, be sure to include that link to the blog post. This is how you will drive traffic from Pinterest to your website.
CONTENT IDEAS FOR PINTEREST
- Sharing pins that are helpful and interesting to your audience will help you find success with the platform.
- Consider creating different boards with topics such as interior design, recipes, or household tips.
- Pinterest is also a great place to pin your apartment listings. Be sure that you are linking your listing site to them!
SPENDING MONEY ON PINTEREST
Once you have established your boards and gained a modest following of users, you may want to consider putting spend behind some of your pins. Try promoting a listing or a blog post with a small amount of spend. Include a call to action (something you want the viewers to do) and track clicks and engagement you receive, to see if it is worth your money.
- 301 Million Active monthly users
- 57 Million Americans use SnapChat
- 72% Adoption rate
- Snapchat users spend 25 minutes a day on the app
- 10 Billion videos watched a day
- 2.5 Billion snaps sent a day
- Snapchat users visit the app 18 times per day on average
- 50% of new users are over 25
- The number of users 25+ is growing 2 times faster than users under 25
Snapchat is one of the newer social media platforms. The app allows users to send pictures, videos and texts that will disappear after 10 seconds or less.
That might seem sort of pointless, but Snapchat can be used to engage existing and prospective tenants by letting them follow you and your business through stories. Stories are where you can post pictures of videos for all of your followers to see for 24 hour periods. With a little creativity, Snapchat can be a fun way to engage and entertain your followers and for property managers is probably most useful in building a resident community.
TIPS & IDEAS FOR SNAPCHAT
- Use Snapchat to show your vacant properties and provide tours of housing and provide details on rent prices. It can be as if you are giving prospective tenants a personal tour yourself!
- Build a stronger resident community by engaging with events and spots in your town/city!
- Share local restaurants and snap a pic of a great meal!
- Snap a video or pic of a new store in your town/city
- Snap pics/videos of community events such as parties
- Snap decorations in your apartment building
- Snap new features or updates in your building
- Give a preview of new construction
- Create a geofilter for your apartment
SPENDING MONEY ON SNAPCHAT
Paid advertising is currently very expensive and we only recommend use by very large property management companies, if at all. Stay tuned as the app evolves to see how they expand their advertising services and cater to smaller businesses!
Hopefully, this guide has given you some great pointers on getting started with social media in property management!
Be sure to follow my social feeds and blog for more updates on great tips and tools!
ABOUT WALT KENNEDY DESIGN
Walt Kennedy Design is a small, personal service systems and design firm, established in 1997 to succeed the full service advertising firm Kennedy Advertising Associates, Inc. Desiring to scale down business without full retirement, Walt Kennedy continues to serve several small clients with whom he has a personal relationship.
Kennedy’s broad breadth of experience in systems design, graphic design, and the emerging world wide web has positioned WKD to concentrate on digital publishing and building websites, in additional to conventional publishing, prepress and identity design. Early clients included newspapers serving the Irish and Polish diaspora in the Midwest and community and fellowship organizations.
Current and former clients include musicians, festivals, artists, authors, publishers, designers, manufacturers and online retailers.
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