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Get over your vanity metrics. Social Media channels are Marketing and Leasing channels

So, you've read through countless fun blogs from within and outside the industry and yes, you've smiled to yourself as you've had to thumb through silly posts about the author's dogs or sunglasses and/or other gimmicky things to keep you reading. And yes, you've gone a step above and read through more authoritative beats like Mashable or TechCrunch or HBR to yes, still find yourself having to smile and get through gimmicky articles on social media. 

And in that time frame of lost minutes  (and yes, hours), you were trained over and over to think that social media was about #fans #followers #tweets #comments #posts and other "measurements". Well, guess what they were wrong and you were wrong to believe it. These vanity metrics simply don't add up to leases or renewals. At the very stretch, they are ONLY good for brand lift, which you likely will ONLY consider once you can DEMONSTRATE you have a handle on building true marketing and leasing ROI. Otherwise, I give it to your boss to tell you to eat it and find something else better to do with your time.

And the reason is simple, we as an industry need to spend the very little time we do have to market (how many of you truly have a full-time dedicated marketing manager on site???) on getting a return from it. 

So, here is how to do it. 

  1. Break your social media into two sections
    1. Customer Service and Employee/community recognition (which leads to brand lift and increase in renewal rate if correlated correctly)
    2. Marketing and Leasing
So for step 1 to work, please use your:

  1. Facebook Wall to communicate customer service points, employee and community recognition (photos, wall updates, etc)
  2. Twitter to communicate public service announcements (alerts on weather, schools, etc) and customer service points
  3. LinkedIn to do 1 and 2
  4. Blog to update on customer service, employee and community recognition (disclaimer... please don't take offense, but I am talking about those not-so-great articles that many of you love to write that honestly have worse impact on the bottom line than your attempt at SEO). I wish you all would stop writing those as would your residents, but that's a different blog post.
  5. When a customer highlights a positive please make sure to have them add that positive to sites like ApartmentRatings.com and Tweet about the positive comment.
How to measure--set a benchmark for number of positive comments/negative comments and measure month over month. For positive comments, see which went to comment back on ApartmentRatings.com and follow that as a monthly. Add those positive comments to all your print marketing collateral to showcase to prospects that they will be cared after the way that matters and here is the proof.
For step 2, please do the following:

  1. Use interactive page builders to build a comprehensive snapshot of your community 
  2. Have those pages link back to your website to attribute them as a source or MAKE them convert
  3. Make sure those pages are attributable
  4. Run leasing promotions that include resident renewal promotions
  5. And have these pages act as sources of advertisement (give them vanity URLs to blast your prospects with easy to use links) to market to past prospects, current fan base, current residents and past residents
How to measure-- the pages you built should either show you how many people went back to certain parts of your website AND/OR converted on the page itself. Measure that each month.
If you are really good, run different campaigns at multiple communities and see which had a greater return on calls/email leads/leases/renewals. Measure each month.
And finally, if you are wanting to monitor... use a solid social CRM like Nimble or HearsaySocial as they were built to do this very easily for you, plus they give you a ton of added features if that is of interest.
Now is the time to start the year off right to social media. Say good-bye to vanity metrics and hello to ROI.

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