We recently attended the Chicago Apartment Association annual meeting. During the discussions, every panel discussed the importance of social media in leasing buildings.
Buckle up, because as I tell my team and our clients on every call, I am a talker. Armed with a keyboard, I am even more annoying.
Genius is predominantly a CRE and Multifamily performance digital marketing agency. But, around 35% of our client base is divided into Medical, eCommerce, B2B Lead Gen, Startups, and CPG. We do this intentionally because we pull the best marketing strategies from these industries to bring into CRE.
What most of these other industries figured out a long time ago was the answers to these social media questions and how strong social media engagement leads to enhanced business performance across all channels. For (checks notes) six years we’ve been stressing the importance of strong social media in the multifamily space, but only in hyper-competitive markets, like LA, Chicago, New York, Miami… But the need is moving into more markets as rents rise with ever-increasing housing shortages across the country.
So, here we are. We’ve got some articles that have come from the New York Times, National Apartment Association, MRI, Multifamily Insiders, AAOA, and Globest (all of these took 1 Google search of “social media’s role in apartment renting, I’m not data mining here). Some of the highlights:
I could keep going, but I really don’t want to because it’s Saturday morning, I already burned the oatmeal, and my kids do not care if I just “have to finish writing this thing.”
We recently had a call with a client who builds some of the most beautiful properties we’ve had the privilege of working on. They’re extremely good at what they do, creating liveable spaces that inspire and delight residents in hard-to-miss locations in one of the top 3 cities in the country.
Through no mistakes on anyone’s part, there was a miscommunication about social media collateral, and the Instagram content and social ads were paused in November and December. Generally not a terrible time for this to happen. But it gave us a really important peek into what happens when strong social media just stops.
When we look for quantifiable data, the role of organic and paid social media is sparse, due to iOS updates in 2020 and now Google stripping 3rd-party tracking beginning in Jan. of 2024. However, we know the role of social media in brand visibility. But what we also saw was how social media impacts Google Organic Search visibility (positive social signals are a ranking factor in organic search).
What you see below are social media impressions and Google organic impressions. As social media visibility decreased, our client’s property fell in organic search, leading to a cumulative decrease in lead volume by around 50%. Google Ads remained high but CPCs increased about 15% MoM, indicating a correlation in social media, organic, and Google Ads performance.
So, what we can learn from this is that while organic social (and social ads now) have missing or totally unavailable attribution, the performance of social impacts SEO. SEO impacts paid search. Paid search impacts both. Social media is an integral part of your properties’ digital marketing landscape and it cannot be ignored.
So there’s a caveat. Social media is important, but GOOD social media is even more important. An article below summed it up nicely so I didn’t have to, because, kids and oatmeal, remember?
“We always tell clients to treat their social media profile as if it was a brick-and-mortar store. For example, if your physical store appeared neglected and unkept … customers would walk right past it and go to a competitor’s location that looks inviting, actively maintained and engaging. The same principle applies to social media,” Vetrano said. (Multihousingnews.com, 2021)
This isn’t a post to shame anyone or to tell anyone what they’re doing is wrong, but to remind property owners and property managers that for a very large portion of people, your social media feed is likely the very first impression a potential resident has of your property. You spent a whole lot of money on building and managing your property, taking time to be thoughtful about the content you’re sharing is important.
Additionally, once users are living at your building, they’re likely not going to be following or engaging with your social media. Unless, of course, you’re doing a great job with Facebook to create on-site events, activities, classes, etc. But residents having issues will absolutely be engaging with your social, but probably not with the feedback you want. So be sure to monitor your social media as a customer service channel with the opportunity to go above and beyond.
Don't overlook social, it's crucial to leasing and a must-have component in your properties' digital presence. Also, don't work on Saturdays.