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The Price of Engagement

And I'm not talking the married kind of engagement. (although that can be pretty pricey too)

I'm talking the price of engagement in regards to social media. I was not a bandwagon social media user. I wanted to understand how to engage and converse with our residents and potential residents before I jumped on the social media train. I also wanted to understand how to measure engagement and then translate that to value for our clients. 

For me, the  issue with social media is not the time it takes to post, blog or tweet, the issue is engagement. Are you maximizing on opportunities of engagement? Are you talking at your residents and prospects are talking with them? Having thousands of fans or followers are great but what are you doing with them?

What gives you the best engagement bang for you buck? I have included my top three.


Posting and tweeting are a marathon, not a race. If you clog up their news feed, they are sure to unfollow or unsubscribe. Studies show a post every 3-4 hours is the sweet spot.


Are you looking at your insights page? Your insights page has a wealth of information and demographics. Use that to your advantage when posting. 


Look at your most successful post (in terms of likes, comments, impressions, re-tweets, etc) and figure out your feedback score. For the posts with the highest feedback percentage, do you see a pattern of posts people engage with most... sports, fashion, decorating ideas? 

I benchmark everything. As a Director of Marketing, making sure my marketing team's time is well spent requires just that, benchmarking everything. Have we figured out the secret formula to social media, engagement and ROI.. not yet but I'm working on it. :-)

Happy posting!


Sparkle Hammond, M.Ed.  First Communities | Director of Marketing
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www.century-apartments.com | www.facebook.com/centuryapartmenthomes

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Leadership Lessons- Part One: Loving to Lead

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. - Martin Luther King I’ve always felt like a leader. In my Girl Scout days, I was the tallest; therefore, I was in charge. When I started cheerleading, it just made sense that I was Captain. When I entered the work force as a Leasing Consultant, it was just months before I was tasked with training other Leasing Consultants and less than a year before I was managing them. In business, I’ve been in a “titled” leadership position since I was 19 years old! Being a leader is position I don’t take lightly by the way... I love to lead and I think I’m pretty good at it. But where it starts, I believe, is actually loving the role of a leader and taking it very seriously (ok, with a whole lot of fun mixed it). Since it seems I’ve always been looked at as leader, it took me a long time to figure out why I so naturally slid into this role, in practically every situation I was faced with. And then it hit me… I genuinely care about the success of others, my business and myself. Think about it, what do leaders do? In my opinion (and opinions can vary greatly, depending on your style); a leader is someone who others strive to be, they set the example, they tackle situations with a results oriented approach, instead of problems they only see solutions, leaders ......
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Team Building III (the final chapter); The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

In this, the third and final installment of the Team Building series, we are going to hone in on the key skills to identify and quantify when hiring a young developer. As we recall, in the first chapter we discussed the three key indicators of success; The Get-It Factor, Communication Skills and a History of Success. In the second chapter, we introduced our ‘toolbox’ and explored the difference between hard-skills and soft-skills (i.e. the tools). As we previously mentioned, between hard and soft tools, the soft ones are more critical because they are more difficult to develop. This fact doesn’t make them more important in the long run- but a young developer with a strong soft-skills base will generally be much easier to train successfully than one who relies heavily on the hard ones. The irony is that our profession most heavily respects hard-skills.   So what are the key soft-tools to hone for a developer’s toolbox?   Clearly we all possess multiple soft-skills with varying degrees of proficiency. Within the limits of an interview process, it is impossible to identify them all. That is why there are a few which are both critical and identifiable. The top three of these are:   Comportment. The way that an individual behaves and carries them self is indicative of a number of other key qualities. Do they speak clearly and concisely?  Do they maintain eye contact? Are they well groomed? Does their appearance indicate an attention to detail? Are they deferential, or aggressive,......
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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.  Break your social media into two sections Customer Service and Employee/community recognition (which leads to brand lift......
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Hire Me: Getting Hired for that NEXT LEVEL Position!

As an approachable leader and champion for both multifamily and my company, I’m asked almost daily how to get to the next level. They’ve taken classes, have a degree, a designation or two and yet their career with their current company is at a standstill. Professionals want to grow, to make more money, to be challenged, to feel like they’re making a contribution, to make their mark… but they’re often unsure about how to find a new position. You might be thinking this is a no-brainer; you’ll just head to an internet job board, type in the type of position you want, and search through the hundreds or thousands of results. Maybe you’ll apply to all of them, I mean… the more you apply to the better your chances, right? To quote one of my favorite plays, Death of a Salesman, “It’s who you know, and the smile on your face! It’s contacts, Ben, contacts!” Sure, applying to any and every position that even slightly resembles what you’re hoping to do, does seem to make sense, statistically. But, you’re going to burn through a lot of energy sending dozens of resumes and cover letters, why not put your time to a little better use and start networking, instead? NETWORK The multifamily housing industry affords us so many places to connect with likeminded professionals. From peers to potential supervisors, interacting has never been easier. Have great ideas? Share them… people will take notice.  Super smart firecracker? Let your personality & knowledge ......
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Let me begin by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. For those of you who regularly read my scribbles, you are used to some pretty meaty topics. In light of the Holidays, this one will be a bit frothier. In each blog that I write there are certain themes which remain pretty consistent. One of my favorites is that real estate development is about the coolest industry on the planet. After all, our job is to make the world a better, more usable, more beautiful place.   Often my intended audience is the real estate developer (my hope is of course that there is some part of my subject matter which translates to my non-developer audience- or at least helps you better understand those temperamental developers who constantly tell you ‘We can’t afford that.’). Today, I would like to remind us all of something that is very easily glossed over as we perform our day-to-day tasks.   No matter what our role in the industry, we have a hand in something very precious. Through our daily work (whether it is building, developing, leasing, managing or maintaining) we have a definite and real effect on people’s lives. We provide the backdrop in which our residents and neighbors work, play, rest, are made safe, fall in and out of love, have babies, spend their final years, argue and make-up, worship and congregate and pursue their individual goals. And while we don’t necessarily know which combination of these that they are ex......
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Team Building (part deux); The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

In the first installment of Team Building, we discussed the three key predictors of a developer’s success; the Get It Factor, Communication Skills and a History of Success. For those of us who are used to trying to isolate more tangible items in an interview, this concept can seem a bit too touchy-feely.  But truth be told, it is the touchy-feely items that are actually critical for success in a strategic role. You have to agree that we cannot attribute the success of Donald Trump, Mack Pogue, Trammel Crow, Jorge Perez, Robert Tishman, etc. to their abilities at running excel spreadsheets. Equally clear is the fact that the ability to generate pivot tables has had virtually no effect on your career’s trajectory either. So then why is it that we use this as an entry requirement into our profession? Sadly, the most obvious answer is also the most truthful- we do it because we are lazy. If we, as the leaders of our organizations, would simply accept the notion that the role of developer was ALWAYS a strategic role, then it would be inconceivable for us to rely on tactical skills in the hiring process. We must begin to respect and understand the entirety of the candidates’ potential, if we want to choose folks who can grow into developers that we want to have on our teams. Each of us has a couple of components that make up our potential (I call this potential our ‘toolbox’). The toolbox is comprised of......
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Team Building; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

One of the great challenges in development team building comes down to composition. We ask ourselves; What are my immediate and long-term needs? What skills are important in my new hire? How do I find and choose the best candidate for my organization? The reason that these questions are more daunting in development than other careers is because of the vastly diverse set of skills that must be present in order to create a ‘successful’ developer. It’s not like hiring an accountant. At first blush, we might say that hiring for a new team is very different than hiring for an existing one. The reason being that with a new team, we know that need a comprehensive skill-set (an A to Z guy), whereas with an already operating team, we might feel that we can simply hire to address our immediate need- what I call a ‘fill the hole’ mentality. For those of you familiar with my blog and the School for Development concept, you already know that this is the exact wrong solution. We cannot continue to make tactical hiring decisions for development roles because a developer is always a strategic position. When we don’t approach our strategic positions strategically, we increase our turn-over and consequently add chaos to our organizations.  So what should we look for when evaluating a candidate? In my experience, there are three primary qualities that are essential predictors of success for anyone who embarks on the developer’s path. And I choose these three because being......
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Always Good Decisions To Be Made; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Not long ago, I toured an apartment complex with two friends; one was the architect who designed it and the other, the developer who built and owns it. The exterior was gorgeous and appropriate. The amenities were unique and clever. The units appeared to be attractive and reasonable for the market…that is until we entered the kitchen. This room was comprised of dark hardwood floors, rich wood cabinetry, stainless appliances and a builder-grade white laminate counter (that stuck out like a sore thumb). I winced. I looked to my architect friend- who gave me the ‘this isn’t the time’ slight head shake. We continued the tour.  Later, I took the architect aside and asked ‘What the [email protected]*k was that?’ He explained that there were originally granite counters spec’ed, but that they were lost in the V.E. process. To me, this was yet another example of the bad results of not training our young developers to know the difference between a good and a bad decision. It’s the problem of not teaching them that development happens in the real world- not on a spreadsheet. Which brings me to our theme; ‘Whenever there is a decision, there is always a good decision to be made.’ Now I’m not saying that every decision has an option which is ideal, just that there are always better and worse choices. When, as developers, we accept the opportunity to reshape the world around us, we also take on the responsibility to understand the ramifications of the decisions......
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What do you need in a leader?

A number of my blog posts have focused on the front office team, the leasing agents and consultants who bring home the bacon. But in the property management universe, our leasing agents don’t fry that bacon up in a pan. That is the manager, or in a larger operation the manager and their assistant. So what should we look for in a property manager in this day and age? Who succeeds while others falter? Just what does it take to be a leader who can guide an asset to a successful quarter, year and longer? I am the first to tell anyone that I am not really a good property manager. I have hired many, worked with dozens and fired a few, but myself? Nothing to brag about. I am too direct, not politically correct and rather abrasive. In the mid-90’s as a supervisor, I was once asked to go with my on-site manager to a tenant’s apartment and explain the necessity of keeping the air conditioning running in South Florida. I asked to see the resident’s closet, and proceeded to explain to her that keeping all this crap in the closet against the walls without the a/c running was causing mold, endangering my asset, and we would likely evict her for it. I was then told to go screw myself. This was an early indication that my skills in dealing with residents were not stellar. But in the years since, I have learned who and what is a good on-site......
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