Add Some Sparkle to Your Social Media 

Magazine ,

By Camila Cal

In our current digital age, social media has quickly become one of the most important tools for businesses. This is true for the multifamily housing industry, too. At the 2021 FAA Annual Conference & Trade Show, attendees had the opportunity to learn all about the best ways to use social media during “The Sparkle Effect: Taking your Social Media to Beyoncé Levels” session.

Erica Nicole Eubanks, the moderator for the session, is the social media specialist at The Collier Companies, where her responsibilities include managing the organization’s brand on social media, overseeing the online growth and engagement of the portfolio, and teaching the latest trends in social media as they pertain to student and multifamily housing. 

Eubanks gave an informing and entertaining presentation, encouraging attendees to use their social media platforms like Beyoncé would.

 “Make each post your best post. Don't post a picture of anyone who doesn't look or feel like Beyoncé Knowles when you snap that photo,” she said. She also recommended finding the platform that works best for each company or community and their audience because some apps, such as TikTok, are not for everyone. What is most important, she said, is going where your audience goes, building anticipation, and starting a conversation. Social media is about giving users an authentic experience. 

It is also “a free form of communication advertising.” In the past, communities had to advertise in newspapers or on the radio, but now there’s a free tool that can showcase the community to more people than ever. 

“Now, all [prospects] have to do is pull out their phone, and they're in your community,” she said. “It humanizes your [on-site team]. We want to make sure we're showing off our teams, who we are, what we believe in, what our team believes in, and what our organization believes in. We want to make sure we put ourselves at the forefront of our social media pages and introduce ourselves. That’s what converts followers to residents.”

Eubanks provided tips on how to use social media as a resource. She suggests planning posts and content in advance by using three steps. 

Step 1: Identify the primary engager.

Who is the Beyoncé, or the most energized and creative person (or people) on your team? Assign them to create content and potentially be the face of your social media accounts. For example, instead of posting a picture of a kitchen, they could record a video in the kitchen explaining why the appliances are so great. This person has to be someone comfortable and enthusiastic about being on camera and showing off their community.

Step 2: Plan and create content in advance.

Because social media is a free advertisement tool, it’s important to take advantage of it by carefully considering what content to share and when to share it. Eubanks asked attendees to think about what they would want to post about. “Do you have team members you want to introduce? Maybe there’s some new innovations happening or someone coming to the community that really interests your residents.” Her tip is to set aside a specific day of the week to create content and then prepare a content calendar that details when to post each video or picture. With this method, it’s easier for communities to plan in advance if there is a special event or holiday coming up.

Step 3: Schedule.

Once the content is created and planned, all that’s left to do is schedule the posts. Eubanks suggested scheduling applications such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Planoly, or Later. These apps make it easier to post on several different social media platforms with time in advance so that content creators can plan their weeks easily. Eubanks said the apps also allow teams to review how the overall post is going to look once it’s posted, and make sure content looks polished and consistent.

Another helpful tip during the session was to be mindful of your community’s demographic when creating content. 

“Someone laying out by a pool at a student community with the Red Solo cup is not going to work as well in a family community. Instead of that maybe we have children playing in a pool or a mom with her baby in the pool. We want to think about the different angles and mind our demographic,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re showing them that this is going to be your life when you choose us. This is your pool. This is your clubhouse.” Reposting residents’ pictures is a good idea, too, because they are real examples of life in the community, and it’s a way to keep residents engaged. 

Eubanks also emphasizes that community-generated posts should only use images that reflect their company’s branding. She said if the image wasn’t created by the marketing department or a photo taken by the community’s team, don’t use it. It doesn’t look professional to have different watermarks or differing brand colors on a community’s page.

After the kickoff presentation, Eubanks sat down with Gray Lane, director of digital marketing for JMG Realty Inc., and Savannah Taylor, strategic marketing manager for RangeWater Real Estate. Both panelists provided advice on how to get long-time multifamily professionals to catch up with the trend of social media. 

Lane highlighted that showing team members why it’s important to use social media as an effective marketing tool can increase their willingness to use it. 

“Constantly hammer on the return on investment, why it's important to humanize your brand, and why it's important to put yourself out there because that's where our renters are,” Lane said. 

Taylor mentioned that RangeWater Real Estate started a social media ambassador program. It allows on-site employees to apply to become ambassadors and then spend time auditing other communities’ social media pages.

“As we've grown, that program has actually converted into our social media expert program. [On-site employees] actually create training videos that are offered as live videos to the whole company. … It’s a way that on-site team members can create this content for their colleagues. They really bought into that value of social media and the company as well,” she said. 

Attendee Edmond Washington, service manager with Daily Disposal Valet Waste, felt like he left the session with a new and improved understanding of social media and how to use it as a resource in the multifamily industry. 

“It was a great session. I’m trying to be more social media savvy and this helped out a lot. I know it will help my business.”