Lauren Melby: The Next Generation of Virtual Tours

Lauren Melby Lauren Melby

It's crucial that your community’s virtual tour wows the market and catches the students’ attention with something new and fresh. 

For many student housing communities, renderings and virtual tours are the first representations of the community that are released to the students, so it is crucial that your community’s virtual tour wows the market and catches the students’ attention with something new and fresh. First impressions will make or break the success of your community and with video apps and technologies constantly changing, it is important for your student housing community to keep up with the new trends.

According to marketing firm ideaRocket, “92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with friends and family, meaning a high-quality video can spread like viral wildfire.” In addition, 76 percent of Generation Z uses their mobile device more times in a day than any other platform (JWT Intelligence). That leaves your property with about a 10-second window to grab the students’ attention and leave a lasting impression. With that being said, standard virtual tours with little design or animation just aren’t making the cut anymore. Students want to see life and excitement in the videos that they watch and that is what your community’s virtual tour needs to convey.

The following video trends will ensure that your virtual tour stands out in the market and leaves the ideal first impression with your student audience to ultimately drive leads and new leases.

  1. Include a Main Character - Having a student actor present in your virtual tour will make the video much more relatable and enjoyable for your audience. The students will identify with the main character and find themselves intrigued by the renderings and amenity shots as they are showcased throughout the video. Including real life shots will transform your virtual tour into a fun lifestyle video that will be much more shareable on social media and other media.
  2. Branding Elements - As with any marketing deliverables created for your student housing community, it is crucial that your virtual tour includes branding elements that align with your community’s brand standards. Elements like the logo, any patterns used in branding, specific fonts and colors, etc., are not optional, but necessary to include. Ensuring a cohesive design will increase the overall brand awareness of your community.
  3. Animation/Music - Now, when we say transitions and animation, we aren’t referring to slide transitions seen on PowerPoint. We are talking about animation to really make your virtual tour pop. Including 3D building effects and transitions that highlight your amenity calls to action will sell your community all on their own. Also, music is a key component to your video that will determine how long the student is willing to watch it. Having current music will help to resonate with the student audience even more.
  4. Local Hot Spots - In addition to including a main character in your virtual tour, we also recommend including footage of local hot spots in your market. Showing footage of the university and then rendering footage of your community in relation to its close proximity will enable your student audience to visually picture themselves living at your community and enjoying all of their favorite local hot spots.
  5. Calls to Action - Using creative calls to action throughout your video will help to bring your renderings to life and will strengthen the ability of your student viewers to visualize themselves living at your community. Describe your fitness center, your sand volleyball court and all other amenities in a way that sparks your audience’s interest and sells your community on the spot.

Video is also a critical component for any strong social media strategy. According to SocialTimes, Adweek’s social media blog, “Adding videos to your brand’s landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90 percent.” Thus, when posting your community’s finished video, it is important to use keywords, tagging and custom UTM, or Urchin Tracking Module, codes for tracking and optimization purposes. This will ensure that all digital efforts are still tied back to leasing. Making sure that your video is shared across all social platforms and embedded into email campaigns will also greatly increase your community’s shareability.

As video continues to be a key component to your student housing community’s marketing mix, it is important to invest in a video that highlights the important elements of the community in a way that appeals to the student market and sparks their interest. Cisco recently reported that by 2017, nearly 90 percent of all Internet traffic will be video and video customers are 95 percent more likely to purchase after watching a video. You do not want to lose out on leases because the first impression of your community is not up to par. 

— Lauren Melby is a marketing account executive for Serendipit Consulting, a public relations, marketing, branding and event-planning firm with a specialization in the student housing market. www.studenthousingexperts.com. She can be reached directly at lauren@serendipitconsulting.com or at (602) 283-5209.

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