According to Buildium’s 2021 State of the Industry Report, almost 54 percent of community managers used social media as a means to communicate and market in 2020. It’s an often overlooked tool for PMs to engage current residents and owners and market themselves to prospective ones.
There’s a common belief in social media marketing that the more people you reach, the better. And while in some cases, that may be true, you also have to consider the quality of your audience along with the quantity. After all, what good is a lead if you know it’s not going to pan out?
The trick is to target your social media and content marketing efforts to a hyperlocal audience, an audience that is more likely to need your local expertise in the property management and rental space.
Here’s how to do that in six steps.
#1: Optimize Your Business Sites
The first step is to claim your business profiles on Google Business and on review sites like Yelp.
When people search for you on Google, your Google Business profile appears on the right side, next to the main search results. It includes images, contact information, your location, your website, and reviews.
Other people can fill out this information for your business, so it’s important to claim and fill out your information first.
Filling it out will also make it easier for prospective owners and residents to find you. Then, encourage current owners and residents to leave you reviews, either on Google Business, Yelp, or any other review site you choose to use.
Online reviews are key to bringing in new leads. According to a BrightLocal survey, 96 percent of customers used the internet to search for a local business and 87 percent read online reviews for local businesses.
Pro tip: Business profiles are not a set-it-and-forget-it situation. You need to monitor and respond to both good and bad reviews. Thank users who leave good reviews, and address issues brought up in bad reviews right away tactfully.
#2: Optimize Your Website
No matter what kinds of content you create, it will all lead your target audience back to your website. Make sure your site is optimized to make it as user-friendly and informative as possible. Make sure your listings are up-to-date, as well.
Do some localized keyword research. A keyword is another name for a search term, the words and phrases people type into Google, Bing, or other search engines to find what they’re looking for. Including those search terms in your content and on your landing pages (in a way that makes sense) can help you get your site to show up in local searches.
A landing page is a page those users land on when they click over from a search page to your site. If you have different target markets, consider creating a landing page for each market. Include local search terms on each of your landing pages, as well as localized information, imagery, and perhaps even a link to a local blog (more on that later).
#3: Research Your Target Audience(s)
Before you can create any content, you have to know who you’re talking to. Who are the people currently renting your properties and who are your owners? In what areas are your properties? What is the local culture like? The demographics? The median income?
What does your target audience care about when they’re looking for housing or looking for someone to manage their properties?
Once you know your target audience inside and out, you can create content they care about. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your properties. Posting about local events, local weather phenomena, or even relatable gifs all help engage your audience.
#4: Create Local Content
Did you know most consumers prefer to learn about companies through their content? And that for every dollar spent, you can get three times as many leads as traditional marketing.
So, if you haven’t already, take your audience research and create a blog (or two) and targeted social accounts.
Start with one blog that achieves your primary business goals, whether that be attracting new owners or residents, or covering topics for current residents. Use your target audience information to create posts that will genuinely interest your audience, or help them solve a problem.
If you manage properties in very different areas, with varying demographics, you may want to consider creating blogs, videos, and social media content for each of those areas, accessible from each landing page on your website.
Stay Local with Social Media
Create social media accounts on the platforms your audience frequents. For example, if your goal is to attract more young professionals to occupy your units, photo and video content on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube will be more effective than Facebook posts, which tend to attract older social media users.
But don’t stop at simply posting to your feeds. Look for ways to get hyperlocal with your content. For example, look for Facebook Groups for your property areas where you could spark meaningful conversations with owners or contribute valuable information. For potential owner clients, you want to always come off as the expert willing to be generous with your knowledge. Be sure to know the audience you’re talking to and be cautious of insular groups where your expertise could be viewed with skepticism—especially with residents it’s better to air on the side of caution. Saying the right thing in the wrong place is still in fact the wrong thing.
For Instagram and Twitter, target hashtags that are trending in your property’s areas. For Pinterest, look for rental features residents are looking for in your area and create pins that showcase those for your properties. For LinkedIn, look for professional groups in your area, just as you would for Facebook. Only, in this case, you’ll target potential client owners instead of residents.
Once you get a good cadence going with one social content marketing strategy, you can consider expanding to other tactics. If you have social-accounts focus for prospective residents, consider a blog for owners or current residents.
#5: Post to Hyperlocal Social Media Sites
We’ve talked about posting to the major social media sites, the Facebooks and YouTubes of the world. But remember, these sites are meant to draw in larger audiences, where it’s easy to get lost in the constant flow of the feed.
There are sites, though, that cater to more localized audiences, where businesses can engage with users in their community.
Nextdoor: This social media network is neighborhood-based. When users sign up, they join their neighborhood group, where they can share local recommendations, ask questions, and discuss local issues. Like Google Business, you can claim a free business page and fill it out for users.
Then, like Facebook, you can gain followers, share content, and start conversations. You can also post your properties in their ads.
Whatsapp: Whatsapp is an app for group chats that also allows videos, voice messages, gifs, images, and even group calls. Groups can have up to 256 members. This app could be a great way to increase engagement with current residents by giving them a direct line of communication with you and with each other. Share event schedules, new sanitation rules and schedules, or fun gifs in your channels.
Remember, engaged and happy residents are residents who recommend your properties to others.
Reddit: Reddit is more of a forum for ongoing conversations. Each topic of conversation is called a subreddit. So, for example content on rental properties can be found under the subreddit r/rentalproperty.
With Reddit, you’re there to play the long game. This is not a forum where people expect to see marketing content, no matter how indirect it is.
Instead, this is a place to start and join conversations, and to provide helpful answers to other users’ questions without mentioning your business. It’s a great place to respond to popular posts and answer questions that property owners in your area may have.
Amazon Neighbors: If your properties feature Amazon Ring, you can create a resident forum through Amazon Ring’s Neighbors app. This is another way to engage your current residents, provide resources, and address security concerns in real time.
That said, there are still other ways to encourage conversation within your own online channels. If you don’t already have a way for residents to interact, you can also consider adding a community message board to your resident portal and app through property management software. While you’re not a social media company, you’ll be able to encourage communication and keep your finger on the pulse.
#6: Harness the Power of Virtual Events
Since the pandemic struck in March 2020, it’s been nearly impossible to hold the kinds of events PMs used to hold to attract new residents. In fact, a lot of businesses that have relied on in-person events have had to get pretty creative, and many have turned to virtual events.
PMs can do the same for both current and prospective residents. Here are a few ideas:
- Hold a virtual interior decorating class that showcases a vacant unit for prospective residents and promotes other local businesses and even craftspeople. This also demonstrates your abilities and branding to owners looking for a property manager.
- For current residents, partner with a company that provides activity kits and hold a virtual cooking, crafting, or woodworking class. There are even cocktail kits for virtual happy hours.
- Bring in an accountant to teach a class on taxes or basic finances via Zoom for new owners or for residents.
- You can even get creative with smaller groups. Apps like HouseParty allow you to play games virtually with up to eight other people. Get smaller groups of residents or even employees together to have a little fun. (Remember, your employees are as much brand ambassadors as you are.)
- Target your events to your property locations and your audience to optimize your reach and audience engagement.
Social media is awash with posts, gifs, videos, and images all trying to get users’ attention. It’s hard to cut through all the noise, especially for a localized business. But it can be done.
Just remember to prioritize the audience that is most receptive to your expertise in each channel. Concentrate on the kinds of content that will get the attention of your target audience in the immediate area of your properties. Nurture the prospects that are more likely to convert to clients and residents by making your social media marketing hyperlocal. And don’t forget to always read the “room.”Read more on Marketing