Today’s student population watches more Apple TV than cable, they Google their problems and find YouTube video segments to teach them how to fix it. The newest generation of adults Tweet, Instagram and SnapChat more than they even talk on their phones. We live in a social media world where many adults do not remember life before cell phones and the internet. Adapting to changing media is smart marketing and the next frontier is social media.
But WHY does social media work for marketing student housing? “Many college students grew up and lived through the Great Recession with their parents, and that turned them into more cost-conscious consumers,” says Scott Duckett, COO of Austin, Texas–based Campus Advantage. Young adults are leaning toward leasing well into their late adulthood in lieu of being tied down to a mortgage. The American dream is changing and it is time for the multifamily industry to capitalize.
We all know we NEED social media but particularly for student housing, it is necessary. Far too many multifamily communities do not know how to go about properly maintaining a social media presence.
Here are ten tips for using social media to market your student housing.
TIP #1 – Be informative.
Your social media platforms become the voice of your student housing community. Use it to answer commonly asked questions. Common questions you can feature on your social media include:
- What is the cost of various floor plans? (Be sure to break it down into a per student cost.)
- Are all the roommates listed on the lease?
- Does the lease price include utilities? Internet? Amenities?
- Are pets allowed? If so how many? What kind/ size?
TIP #2 – Don’t be too serious or “salesy”.
Ultimately social media is a form of entertainment. If your followers do not find your contributions entertaining on some level, they will begin to ignore your postings. Make sure your tweets, photos, posts, etc. are interesting and appealing. Avoid making direct pitches via social media.
TIP #3 – Avoid Spam.
Not the canned ham product, we are talking about overusing social media to direct market. As a general rule, post no more than a few times a weekly. If you post multiple times daily, your posts will slowly stop appearing on feeds. On Twitter, you can tweet more frequently, but be strategic. Avoid posting long messages that require multiple tweets to finish. For Instagram, make sure your information is “pretty” and inspiring above all else.
TIP #4 – Show how social your community is.
If you are planning to host an event such as an open house, holiday party, barbecue for residents, or even a pool volleyball tourney, be sure to publicize this on your social channels. Show your community’s personality and encourage residents to socialize on your channels. This will help future residents to begin building emotional attachment before they ever step in the door.
TIP #5 – Be real and relevant!
skip the corporate speak. You want your social channels to be as warm and inviting as your community. Make sure that your content relevant to the apartment community while also being entertaining. Post relevant content that elicits engagement.
TIP #6 – Video is key.
Showcase apartments with virtual tours and share videos of resident reviews and events within your community. Youtube channels are hot and can be shared across multiple platforms. Producing videos of your community that encompass not only the physical aspects but the community “life” will go a long way toward convincing residents to check you out.
TIP #7- Show them what you have to offer.
Students are concerned about amenities. Highlight all of the common areas and extras in your marketing. Specifically, on social media, this can help your property stand out from your competitors.
TIP #8 – Include resources for parents.
Make sure parents can easily find answers to their commonly asked questions about leases, cost, amenities, safety, etc. While most students are adults, their primary sounding board for decision making is often their parents and commonly parents are financing the endeavor! Make sure that parents also feel included in the process.
TIP #9- Create a Mascot.
Creating a mascot for your community to be an ambassador is a great idea! Let your mascot frequent local hangouts, school sponsored and community events and share about his / her adventures on social media. Often mascots quickly build a following and often they will be invited to events giving your community FREE advertising just because people love them!
TIP #10 – It IS a popularity contest.
Contrary to many other marketing ventures, social media IS a popularity contest. The more people you reach, the more your community grows. Ask residents to become your brand ambassadors. Students want to live where their friends are. The more friends, the more a student wants to live in your community.
Don’t forget fair housing! Regardless of marketing medium, don’t overlook the fact that student housing is covered under the Fair Housing Act, and is subject to the same rules as any other multifamily housing. Be sure to cover all of your bases and appoint a social media representative who is well versed in Fair Housing law.
Growing your student housing via social media does take a dedicated and genuine effort but it can be accomplished with a targeted plan. If you do not have a marketing “Team” who can dedicate time to the venture, considering hiring a professional organization to assist you. Social media, done wrong, can truly harm your community.