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Easy Does It

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“There are two reasons why we use social media: To talk about ourselves and to find out what are friends are doing,” said Jasmine Brooks, Sales Support Specialist for EdR during the session “Social Media Wins Anyone Can Manage” at the 2017 NAA Student Housing Conference & Exposition, Feb. 13-14 in Chicago. “If we constantly try to sell ourselves, they lose interest. Engagement comes from putting customers first.”

Brooks, joined by panelists John Hinckley, CEO of Modern Message; Maureen Lannon, SVP of Marketing for Pierce Education Properties; and moderator Mike Whaling, President of 30 Lines; shared tips and tricks for navigating the high stakes, highly competitive arena of social media marketing in the student housing space.

Their bottom line? Delivering a share-worthy experience is paramount.

The session, which extensively covered the ins and outs of everyone’s favorite peer-to-peer networks, featured discussions of metrics, messaging, content creation and promotion.

Whether creating a photo op, using snapchat geo-filters or leveraging social takeovers, the panel in this highly engaging, audience-driven session collectively stressed understanding the moments and experiences that resonate and the really knowing the value of organic content, that is, “residents telling your story is 1,000 times better than anything you can post.”

“It was really good—they gave a lot of good tips and tools for different programs you can use to manage your social media platforms, especially for a mid- to large-size company, which is what I needed,” said first-time attendee Rachel Cox, Senior Director of Property Marketing Operations for American Campus Communities in Austin, Texas. “They offered good insight into how and why certain campaigns worked and ones that didn’t work, as well as the different tools and resources available.”

Once such discussion centered on on-campus influencers. Recommendations included following members of the Greek system, who tend to be opinion leaders for the student housing audience. Social takeovers by athletes, sororities, international students proved popular, as long as the posts were pre-approved. An important consideration for this type of initiative is to provide guidelines to partners, essentially outlining exactly what you’re looking for, from how many posts to what not to post.

“Content creation is one thing; promotion of content is completely different,” warned Whaling, before the panel dove headlong into an enlightening discussion of Facebook ad types. Brooks outlined ad campaigns and how they can be useful from generating leads to location-based advertising (reaching people who are physically near your place of business during a special event) to ads designed to increase attendance at your own events.

“Don’t be last minute with ad campaigns,” said Brooks. “Have a plan and use them in conjunction with your other marketing.”

Had to choose between two equally interesting sessions? Not to fear: NAA’s Education Instutue (NAAEI) has you covered. The NAAEI REWIND program offers 16 PowerPoint-synced audio sessions from the conference so you never have to miss a moment of education.