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Strategies and software continue to be developed that can help apartment owners and managers leverage social media to help market their communities. Some are finding that leads can be generated by combining Web-based referral programs with popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ed Spiegel, VP Social Products, for RealPage, Inc., recently sat down with Apartment TECHniques. Following is our chat:
NATIONAL APARTMENT ASSOCIATION: Mr. Spiegel, could you take us back to the early days of you exploring online marketing through social media?
ED SPIEGEL: Since 2007, Facebook has grown from 15 million users to more than 1 billion. Referrals have always been tied to trusted friend networks, even before the growth of the Internet itself. I believed that leveraging the online friend relationships on Facebook could make the referral process more efficient. My first company, RentMineOnline (LeaseStar Social), really just grew and matured with that core belief. We’re now integrated in RealPage’s comprehensive online marketing solution, LeaseStar Marketing Suite.
NAA: What does the process of launching a referral campaign entail?
ES: Every other month, residents are sent an email informing them of the program and incentives for participating. Residents simply post a preset positive message of their choice to their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page. The results are incredible.
NAA: So, there are metrics that managers have to measure effectiveness?
ES: Well, the solution is proven to close socially influenced leads at a twice-greater rate and close to three-times more referral leases annually. On the back-end, the software provides managers visibility into reach, distribution and engagement of the program. It also integrates with management solutions to help users make better business decisions based on data and marketing trends.
NAA: Is its pricing based on the frequency of the campaigns or the number of apartments?
ES: Both. Typically, we run campaigns once every two months and we also run campaigns monthly for lease-ups or during more intense leasing periods.
NAA: How does this benefit owners and managers who are not as tech-savvy and up on the latest social media applications? Are they missing an opportunity to boost their bottom line?
ES: Social media is where residents are engaging, so why not leverage them as brand advocates, helping to promote your communities via word-of-mouth? It’s a more cost effective way to market your brand and increase ROI.
NAA: Where do you see apartments and multifamily heading in terms of social media outreach and marketing in the months and years to come?
ES: Several things will continue to impact the apartment marketing industry in the months and years ahead. These include the emergence of mobile, rich media, utilizing big data to gain more visibility into our business operations and prospects, and reputation management.
By Teddy Durgin
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