Use social media to create authentic conversations, and the leases will follow.
The way to sell beds for student housing companies has changed forever. Students are now looking at the screen. They are on their phones, tablets, laptops and are more connected to their friends and interests than ever before. In order to break through the noise in 2014, you must take advantage of their attention and engage on the platforms they use every day.
According to research conducted by Piper Jaffray, Students have cited “friends” as the strongest influence over their purchase decisions. More than half of students indicate that social media impacts their purchases, with Twitter being the most important, eclipsing Facebook, followed closely by Instagram. But the popularity of Facebook is waning with 23 percent citing it as the most important, down from 33 percent six months ago and 42 percent a year ago. However, most student housing properties average about 36 Instagram followers, 98 Twitter followers and 953 Facebook fans.
The key is creating a definitive strategy to build relationships with the end-user, the students. We see too many student housing properties on social media broadcasting messages versus holding conversations and building relationships. Picture social media as one big cocktail party. You don’t want to be the loner in the corner talking to yourself and looking at your phone. In contrast, you want to be the fun relatable person everyone wants to get to know. Here are three suggestions on how your property can start getting social today.
The first step in any social media campaign is to have a plan intact for building a following on your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. You need students following before you broadcast your content, right? But students will not want to follow you if you’re talking to them like robots and using your corporate language. Humanize your brand, share experiences and ask for the follow.
The best content strategy is one that strikes just the right balance between relatable and promotion. Post things students care about, such as latest news, campus sports, exams, entertainment and more. Once you gain their attention with the things that interest them, then you can promote your property.
On platforms like Twitter, you can reach out to your residents directly and simply ask, “How are you today?” or “Good luck on your exam!” Your residents will appreciate the effort in reaching out, and their friends will see how much that property cares about their residents, indirectly promoting the property. Relationship building leads to brand advocacy.
In our practice of social media, we have found the platform to be highly underestimated by the industry to generate leases and increase retention rates. With the right strategies, you can see a direct return in less than 40 days. Get creative and use social media to sell beds today.
Sean Standberry is president of LYFE Marketing is a social media agency with a specialization in student housing.