When it comes to the multifamily industry, while we are comfortable posting on Facebook, Instagram is still relatively new. Adding Instagram to current apartment marketing efforts can enhance your community’s brand and strengthen resident connection.
Think of Facebook and Instagram as bookends; working together to add value in different ways. Facebook is better at distributing information, as lengthy text can be displayed, and articles and web pages can be linked directly, whereas Instagram focuses on photos and videos leading to a higher volume in engagement.
Residents are looking for a community’s social media pages to reflect transparency; allowing them to connect with onsite staff and become a part of the community.
Sola Station in Columbia, SC does a fantastic job of this by posting community info on Instagram and then embedding that content feed directly on their website. Residents can post to the feed using #LIFEATSOLASTATION.
Let’s take a quick look at the data… According to The SatisFacts 2018 Social Media Study, content should be primarily resident facing, and not targeted to generate traffic. When asked how important was Social Media in the decision to lease, respondents ranked it 46 out of 48. In other words – it’s not important.
Now let’s talk renewals. According to the same study, the #1 driver for renewals is perception of value. When asked what drives that perception of value, Social Media ranked #2 in that study. The takeaway being if we invest time in certain social media, creating community and connecting with residents, we can ultimately improve renewals at our communities.
A lot actually. 72% of residents say that they use Instagram on a daily basis, which means it’s the perfect opportunity for your community to connect with residents on a platform they use.
Now let’s talk about how to do it.
If you’re new to Instagram or simply looking to improve what you’re already doing – here’s our 6-step master plan for setting up your apartment community for success.
Make sure the your community’s Instagram profile is a business profile. Communities should take advantage of the business profile features which include having a call to action button (email, website) for your page visitors, the ability to promote your posts with ad dollars, and access to account insights.
Setting up a business profile is simple:
First seek out who on your team enjoys social media in your community; perhaps it’s rotating people monthly or weekly and even include maintenance. When a staff member enjoys Social Media they will be consistent in posting inspired content for their community followers to engage.
The Online Renters Study shows residents’ interest in following their community’s Instagram has grown rapidly, from 2.6% in 2015 to 4.8% in 2017, essentially an 85% increase. Creating awareness to residents is key in making sure a community’s Instagram page is successful. In addition to creating awareness it’s important to let residents know why it is important to follow their community, whether it’s for contests, local information, community improvements, etc.
Social media contests provide an excellent opportunity to connect with residents:
Creating awareness should include Instagram icons on an employee’s email’s signature line, promoting at move in, promoting in the resident’s new home, during resident events, community signage and portal as well as throughout the entire time of the resident’s lease term.
During the lease signing is a great opportunity to connect the resident with the community’s page even if their lease doesn’t start for a several weeks. This establishes the sense of community and includes them as if they already live there.
Once your community has a plan in place for who is responsible for Instagram, you should create a monthly goal. A monthly goal makes the process easier as you know what the intent is. Focus first on increasing Instagram followers before concentrating on trying to get current followers to engage.
If you are revamping your current plan, start with your Instagram page insights. Create a list of the content that has driven success in the past as well as which posts have not been successful. Understanding your audience and what drives them is key to an interactive Instagram page. During the planning stage, communities should determine their voice.
If your community was a person, what one word would best describe their personality? Some examples are: fun, trendy, traditional, classy or cozy. The Instagram posts should center on words that describe the community’s personality. This will set the tone and the type of content that will be posted.
Now that your community’s platform has been established, curating diverse content as well as understanding when to post to your targeted residents is beneficial. According to our 2018 Social Media Study, over 60% of residents are mainly active on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and most active after 8pm.
Using schedulers to help post content on the right day and time will allow your communities posts to reach more residents. In addition to knowing when to post, the content that is created for residents is extremely important. Residents are most engaged with posts that enhance their personal brand; making them look good, letting them stand out and showing themselves as community experts.
Posts with a location receive 79% MORE engagement, a critical component when thinking about apartment marketing.
If content is not interesting and relatable, residents will not return to your page or they may even unfollow the community. Now let’s jump into the part most communities have trouble with – coming up with post ideas.
Contests are a great way to get residents involved and prizes can be obtained from local businesses or even vendors. Below are just a few examples of contests I have found to be successful.
Always use standard hashtags (#communityname, #citystate) and ones that are relevant to the picture you are posting: A picture of residents using the pool could include: #Summer #Cooloff #Swimming #residentfun
Instagram posts with one hashtag or more has 12.6% more engagement than posts that don’t include them.
Reasons to Use Hashtags:
Insta Stories differ from your newsfeed as stories disappear after 24 hours and a newsfeed is fixed. Your Insta Stories should complement – not replace – your Instagram feed. There’s no ‘Best Time to Post’ because they’re visible for 24hrs!
Insta Stories is another avenue of Instagram which allows a community to invite the residents into the community’s world and share real time behind the scenes shots, giving the resident a sense of exclusivity as well as an opportunity to connect with your staff. Everyone loves to feel like they’re special – and you’re also creating a bit of hype behind what you’re working on.
Great examples of when to use Insta Stories:
Implementing Insta Stories strengthens the community’s relationship with residents – and even starts new ones! A best practice for using Insta Stories is to post at least twice a day, at 10-12 hours apart, so that you’ve always got something in the stories newsfeed within a 24 hr time frame.
You must review and realign on a weekly basis. Some great questions to answer in reviewing your community’s posts are: Did certain types of posts do well? Should you implement more of the same in the coming week? What should you eliminate that didn’t work? Use Instagram’s insights to help understand how your community’s posts are performing.
Remember Social Media holds little importance on the decision to rent, but ranks high in the decision to renew. The #1 driver for resident renewals is perception of value and the #2 driver for perception of value is Social Media. Utilizing Instagram consistently with open, honest and clear content will lead to increased opportunity to connect with residents.
Posting the right quality imagery with good descriptions and hashtags that truly reflects the community’s brand and personality will gain the eyes and attention of followers. Although posting quality photos and videos on the community’s newsfeed and insta stories may be enough, followers want to be involved through Instagram.
Make sure to stay engaged with followers by responding to comments or just a simple thank-you. Just like responding to reviews, interacting with a community’s follower’s builds trust and real relationships showing the community cares.
Jennifer has 10 plus years of proven experience in Marketing and Training as a Director of Marketing for several property management companies where she has trained employees in best practices. She currently is the Director of Client Performance at SatisFacts Research and ApartmentRatings.