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5 Steps to Solving the Social Media Conundrum

5 Steps to Solving the Social Media Conundrum

In 2017, our Online Renter Study determined that social media was not a key influencer with renters.  During the search for a new home, only 14.1% of renters said they used a community’s social media page as a source for information.  And when asked if the community’s social media presence factored into the overall decision to lease, the consensus was “no”; placing social media at #46 out of 48 in terms of importance. 

So, if social media holds little value for prospects, does the same hold true for existing residents?  Our Annual Satisfaction Survey helps connect the dots even further.  We know, based on 1.6 million survey responses, the #1 driver for resident satisfaction is perception of value.  Bottom line, residents want to know they are getting their money’s worth where they live.  But what drives value?  What are the things teams should focus on to convince residents to accept a rent increase and stay another year?

Perception of value is tricky because value itself is subjective.  Consumers in general would gladly pay more for certain purchases because in their eyes, it’s worth it.  Whether that is a certain brand of coffee or the top of the line SUV, price is only an issue in the absence of value.

Every 6 months we examine the correlation between the survey questions of our Annual Satisfaction Survey and perception of value. After our most recent analysis, we were surprised at the results.  The #2 driver for perception of value was social media.  What stunned us even more was for the past 5 years we’ve conducted this analysis, social media was never among the top 10 drivers and then suddenly, it shot up to #2.   

Only 31% of residents surveyed for our 2018 Social Media Study follow their community on the most popular site, Facebook, and our SatisFacts Index reveals a low satisfaction rating of 3.12 out of 5.00 in regards to the social media efforts among the 5,800 communities participating in our survey programs.  For social media to land at the #2 value driver, and with cumulative data contradicting such a high placement, we were compelled to take a deeper look.  Do residents actually care if their community effectively incorporates social media into the overall resident experience?

Residents are simply saying if their community is going to dedicate resources to any social media platform, it shouldn’t look like a waste of the management’s time.  And if the community expects their residents to connect, engage and participate via social media, it shouldn’t be a waste of the residents’ time either.  Flooding a resident’s timeline with posts aimed at generating traffic come across as self-serving; only to the benefit of the community.  Respondents to our 2018 Social Media Study ranked posts regarding community improvement announcements as most important, and advertisements of vacant apartments as least important. 

By combining data from these 3 major studies, we have developed a 5-step plan for communities to create a social media strategy deemed value-worthy.  Here are the first 3 steps:

1. Determine your community’s voice: If your community was a person and had a go-to outfit, what would that look like?  Would the community be decked out in designer labels, or dressed in comfortable jeans and a t-shirt?  An upscale ensemble warrants posts such as Michelin star restaurants in the area and exclusive networking events. Those with more toned down attire should focus on posts centered around affordable or even free happenings in the area.  The outfit determines the personality – and the personality defines the voice.

2. Take social media literally: 86.1% of respondents to our 2018 Social Media Study said they use these platforms to stay connected with friends and family.  Communities have an opportunity to get involved with their residents on a more social level.  Sharing good news, celebrating milestones and posting content with a positive message helps to create a strong sense of community which is the #1 driver for perception of value.

3. Post for residents, not prospects: According to our 2018 Social Media Study, residents want community improvement announcements, resident referral incentives and community events as most important. Today's resident is focused on 'Me, Myself, and I'. Even when it comes to social media, residents think, “what’s in it for me?” Residents want content relevant to their lifestyle, while demonstrating

4. Don’t be “that friend”: We all have friends who constantly post eye-rolling content such as food photos and click bait.  These types of posts hold little if any value to those reading and over time create discord when these items pop up on our timelines.  People abhor hollow content, and residents aren’t any different.  Too much of it will cause residents to simply unfollow or disengage with the community altogether.  Informative, entertaining and shareworthy content are what residents respond to.

5. Ask for a community review: As property management professionals there’s one area that overwhelms most of us with anxiety: asking for a community review.  As seen in our 2018 Social Media Study only 11% of residents had been asked to post a comment on the community’s social media page, while 66% of said if they would if asked.  Asking can be as simple as saying something like, “We’d love for you to share your experience because your expert opinion can help others decide if this is the right place for them.”

As rents increase, residents are becoming more discerning with all aspects of their experience. Residents will never say “You know what?  I don’t think I pay enough to live here…please take this additional check.”  They do however consider multiple factors in determining the overall value of where they live.  Quality of maintenance and office responsiveness - formerly top drivers for perception of value, have now become basic expectations.  This latest shift is an opening for management teams to focus on engagement and the effective use of social media is a perfect starting point.

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  • Mike

    Found this article really helpful. You mentioned the 2017 Online Renter Study. Is there a place to see that in full? If not, you mentioned that social media came in 46th out of 48 factors in importance. Do you have that list somewhere, or at least the top 10? Thanks!

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