Last week, I spoke at a lovely and quaint seminar hosted by The Federation of Rental Housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO). The topic was the benefit of social media marketing in the multi-residential housing industry. With insight from co-panelists, Chaim Rivlin, CEO, RentSeeker Inc., and Steve Ballantyne, Director of Business Development, Neighbourhood Buzz, the discussion zeroed in on what we believe to be the three most relevant social media channels for real estate insiders: YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (what I consider to be The Big Three). Acknowledging that there are, of course, hundreds of important online social networks for landlords, we all agreed that the ROI potential of The Big Three is too significant to overlook.
Speaking on behalf of Greenwin Inc., I pointed out that the Toronto-based company has been involved on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for several years and has had great success in terms of vanity metrics – or followers – and garnering media attention. Editors from dailies, including the Star, Renters Guide and Canadian Apartment Magazine, have approached us for stories based on social media activity, proving that this form of marketing is just one way of generating substantial and, ahem, free buzz for a company.
So, in response to the question of why landlords should use social media marketing, I say do it for just that: marketing. While Steve would tend to be of a different opinion based on his company’s business model, which operates on a platform of engaging current and prospective renters, Chaim and I agreed that the primary function of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter should be to supplement a company’s website and drive traffic to it. In addition to helping out in the SEO department, the traffic directed to your website’s apartment listings is what converts to sales. In other words, capture the prospect’s attention via social media, but get them to your website quickly by indicating a clear call to action wherever possible.
Here are some other snippets from the discussion:
Inform: Keep your company’s description and call to action consistent.
Delegate: Designate one person to handle all social media.
Prepare: Plan your usernames. Prior to committing to any names, make sure you can get the same name across the board.
Organize: Don’t spread too thinly. Instead, determine what Steve aptly calls your “weapons” and hit them hard!
Communicate: In the apartment industry, 70% of renters start their searches online. Stay active by posting 3-5 tweets per day and by updating Facebook and YouTube on a regular basis.
Balance: Keep information 50% corporate and 50% engaging (promote community initiatives, announce and promote events/contests, highlight relevant industry news, interact with key media, etc.).
Recover: Use negative feedback as an opportunity to make a great public relations recovery.
Analyze: In addition to focusing on vanity metrics (likes, re-tweets, friends, etc.), use tools like Facebook Insights to better understand the performance of your page. Remember, ROI isn’t always financial.