Facebook is massive, and getting bigger by the day. There’s no denying its reach among American consumers, and myriads of companies are being funded and built solely on the premise that they’re going to help you become a better marketer while capitalizing on the web of connections built by sites like Facebook. These companies are flooding the market with tools; everything from social media dashboards (which help manage your various campaigns) to automation software (which will plan your updates algorithmically, so that they’re released within the optimal time frame to be seen by the largest potential audience of readers).
So what else can you do to enhance your ability to “pull” residents into your community? To start, you can make it look like an incredibly desirable place for prospective residents to live. And what’s the best way to showcase the people, relationships, and activities that make your community so great to the outside world? That’s right … Facebook.
Facebook As A “Pull” Marketing Strategy
Whether lurking on #AptChat or reading the comments section of some of our favorite #multifamily bloggers, I consistently hear people asking for advice on how they can get better at marketing their community on Facebook. “It’s impossible to measure ROI!” “My PM’s don’t know what they should post!” “We don’t see any leads come through Facebook so why should we waste our time?” I’ve got news for you: you’re doing it wrong. I agree, it’s incredibly hard, if not impossible to measure ROI on Facebook, and knowing what to post and when is something that you can only get better at with practice and time. (ROI isn’t the ultimate measurement of marketing performance, either.)
What I most take issue with is the underlying premise: that Facebook should be treated like any other traditional “push” marketing channel, and held to the same standards when it comes to ROI. It’s not, and it shouldn’t be. The biggest opportunity Facebook presents for your community is the same reason millions of people spend hundreds of hours crafting their perfect public profile: Facebook lets you put your best face forward. It draws people into your world. Facebook is your chance to take what’s best about living in your community and put it on display for the world – it’s dynamic, it’s alive, and it’s the closest someone can come to knowing what it’s like to live in your community without actually sharing your street address, if it’s done right. Which begs the question – what does apartment marketing on Facebook look like done right?
The #1 Way To Use Facebook To Market Apartments
In all likelihood, every other channel you market to relies on a traditional “push” strategy. If you turn off the faucet, the water (or leads) run dry. The reason why many people look at Facebook and see nothing but a heavy time commitment with no measurable ROI is because they expect it to act like any other traditional push tool. It won’t! Can we accept that Facebook may be best used as a means to pull new residents in, simply because they can’t deny the attraction to your vibrant community? In the same way that millions of individuals use Facebook to showcase their best self to the world and draw others into their orbit, so should your community.
Which marketing tactic do you think is going to be more impactful on a potential resident in 2013 — having to choose between one of the 20 text ads they see in a search engine results page, or landing on your community’s Facebook page and seeing the glowing faces of residents who look, talk, act like, and enjoy the same things that they do? Which would have more impact on you?
The Opportunity is Now
Your competition doesn’t get it. In two years, 98% of these same companies still won’t get it. That’s unfortunate for them, but it’s great news for you — it means there’s an unprecedented opportunity for you to stand out in a highly competitive and crowded marketplace. If someone told you how big SEO, PageRank, and search engine results were going to be back in 2004, wouldn’t you have thrown a large portion of your resources into managing your presence on Google? Imagine the benefits you’d be reaping now, 7 years later!
This kind of long term thinking requires discipline, short term investment without measurable ROI, and smart staffing choices, but if executed correctly your company can establish an almost insurmountable lead over your competitors in a few years time. When you reset your expectations of how Facebook works as a marketing channel, your perspective widens to include the new possibilities that a successful pull strategy can offer. Your level of success depends on how willing you are to commit.
We’ll dig a bit deeper into what a successful Facebook “pull” strategy looks like in a future post, but for now I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the topic. How does your company view the Facebook opportunity? Do you have an example of a particular community which shines as a best practice example for the industry? Do you think my interpretation of the market opportunity is totally off-base? Let us know in the comments!!