As an industry, we seem to be getting the age of Facebook all wrong. With a few exceptions, I'm seeing properties use their Facebook walls to post updates to their specials and prices. I just looked a property page and noticed that their last 6 posts were all telling me that they were having a "sale" on their two bedrooms.
If you did not "get it" in 2010, you are really going to struggle in 2013 and beyond. My friends, and Facebook friends (!), it is all changing. Have you noticed? Are you ready? Have you accounted for this in your marketing budgets? Why? Because the apartment industry is prime to take on a whole new position in social media. We are going to rent apartments, in real time, on Facebook.
What started out at a tool to broadcast yourself with fun updates and pictures of your recent vacation to make all your friends jealous, has turned into a real business tool. I was having breakfast with Craig Donato who has been developing Facebook Marketplace. I was curious to know why they picked the apartment industry as one of the top verticals they are targeting. His response was that our industry is one of the most active industries on Facebook. Craig feels that apartment industry has a lot of enthusiasm for building connections with residents, past residents and future residents. Honestly, for an industry who has never been to the first to arrive to the technology party, this was exciting to hear. But what does it mean?
Let's start to put this all together. Have you noticed that you have been receiving emails from residents sent via your Facebook page? Have you noticed how easy it is to upload photos of events at your apartment community? If there’s anything we’ve learned about Facebook, it’s that Likes don’t always translate to … well, likes. We’ve all Liked things to enter a contest, get a free meal, or out of pity for a friend’s new business. The key to Facebook success is engagement. Measure your success on how many people commented and shared your post. Don't let any comment or share go without your comment. This keeps the thread alive in the news feed.
Facebook is also a tool to help you understand the demographics of your customers. Most importantly, where do they hang out? What sports teams do they like? What hot restaurants are they visiting? How do they feel about current events? Where will they be this weekend? These answers and more will help you market to your customers in a very specific way. We can also celebrate the milestones, birthdays and anniversary's in their life through interaction on their wall. Bring all of this knowledge and engagement into your office and you have a modern view of today's customer.