We live in a day and age where people are looking at their phones more than television, tweeting more than reading, and listening to their friends more than their parents. If your community isn’t using social media to market your student housing, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to market to your target audience!
Today’s student residents are very value oriented. “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. Students care more about amenities and concessions and if you want to attract and keep residents, you should be focusing on them.
Many of these new adults also have the propensity to rent over purchase after watching the effects of the recession, which make them prime consumers for multifamily communities even into their late adult years. The next generation of residents can be found, on social media. Convincing them will take a bit of creativity and genuine effort but be assured that social media is the next great marketing outlet especially for student housing!
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA FOR STUDENT HOUSING?
Every multifamily community strives for marketing success by humanizing their brand. Social media is a prime medium to make your student housing property not only a popular hub of information for your target audience but also a friendly place for them to hang out to get to know your community. Of course, growing your student community around your brand is a great way to keep current residents and potential residents up to date on what your property has to offer.
The benefits of social media marketing for the student housing segment can leverage your brand above your competitors, but why has no one taken the lead yet? The problem with the student housing industry in relation to social media marketing is that hardly anyone is doing it correctly.
The problem with the student housing industry in relation to social media marketing is that hardly anyone is doing it correctly. It’s certainly not due to lack of trying. The fact is many management companies are putting leasing agents and other employees on their social media pages and expecting them to know how to do it, because…hey, everyone knows how to use Facebook, right?
Social media done right, ensures that your social media platforms become a voice for your community. Use social media to answer questions that potential residents are asking and allow social media to become a FAQ of sorts. Some of the prime questions student residents want to know are: How much is the 1,2,3 bedroom floor plan? (price per student) Do my roommates have to be on the lease? Are utilities included with the rent? Do you accept pets at your property? When you give your potential residents the information they desire, you are empowering them to begin loving your property before they ever step foot on it.
WHERE ARE THE STUDENTS?
Most student housing communities fail because they are too “salesy” on their posts and every last one is about lease renewals and reduced application fees. As a result, over 85% of student housing marketing done on social media is a complete waste of time. Here is why:
- The marketing departments for most companies typically have no systematic process of generating leads through social media.
- The leasing agents and on-site staff are not trained properly on how to effectively use social media as a marketing tool.
- Efforts are conducted through channels where students don’t spend much time.
- Over 90% of Student Housing brands post more on Facebook than any other platform.
The problem? Instagram is the most popular platform for young adults between the ages of 18-25. According to CNN, Facebook admitted to losing a substantial number of young adults in recent months. Any multifamily community who is exclusively using Facebook for their social media marketing efforts, is missing out. There are many platforms and to truly get the most “bang for your buck” you need to employ marketing tactics that encompass multiple social platforms.
HOW DO WE MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA WORK?
TIP #1 – Keep it fun!
It is important not to forget that ultimately people use social media as a form of entertainment, and if they do not find your contributions entertaining on some level, they will not be interested. For an apartment community, make sure that the posts you put on Facebook or the tweets you send on Twitter or the pictures you post on Pinterest or Instagram are interesting and appealing, and not merely sales pitches.
TIP #2 – Don’t spam your followers.
Another very important rule for using social media is not to overuse it.
On Facebook, that means not posting more than once a day, at a maximum. If you post too frequently, people will learn to ignore you and eventually you’ll stop showing up in their feeds. On Twitter, you can tweet more frequently, but be strategicabout how often you are pushing for a sale.
TIP #3 – Announce events on social media.
Are you planning on hosting an open house to attract new renters? Are you holding a barbecue to give the residents a chance to mingle and socialize? Will there be a blood drive or other public service on the premises of the apartment community? Are you having a pool volleyball tournament? Show your community’s personality and allow students to begin building emotional attachment before they ever step in the door!
TIP #4 – Stay relevant!
In addition to keeping things fun and entertaining, you also want to keep them relevant to the apartment community.
Use the Facebook business page to build the brand of the community. Only post relevant content, but make it engaging. For example, you could post a message about the fact that the weather is going to be beautiful over the weekend and suggest some fun local activities to enjoy.
TIP #5 – Use a human voice.
If you want to appeal to students, skip the corporate speak. You want your Facebook presence to be warm and inviting, as well as professional. For Instagram, post photos not only of your units and grounds, but also of student and community activities. Tweet about local events and football games! Your content needs to be interesting, relevant, and fun to attract a student following.
TIP #6 – Use video to highlight your community.
Showcase apartments with virtual tours and share videos of resident reviews and events within your community.
TIP #7- Detail amenities and features.
Highlight all of the common areas, amenities and extras in your marketing. Specifically, on social media, this can help your property stand out from your competitors.
TIP #8 – Have resources available to 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!
TIP #9- Establish a mascot.
Consider creating mascot for your community to be an ambassador. Let your mascot frequent local hangouts and share about his or her adventures. Often mascots will be invited to events for FREE advertising just because people love them!
TIP #10 – Be personal and gain popularity.
Allow your current 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.
WHAT ABOUT FAIR HOUSING LAWS?
Regardless of marketing channel, it is crucial to remember that student housing is “housing” under the Fair Housing Act, and is subject to the same rules as any other multifamily housing. Any student in the process of seeking housing, whether on or off campus, is protected by fair housing laws and has the right to inquire about, apply for, and obtain housing free from discrimination because of their race, age, disability, etc.
Fair housing laws cover most housing, including apartment complexes, single‐family homes, condominiums, dormitories, manufactured homes, and others. Students with disabilities also have the right to request reasonable accommodations to provide equal access and enjoyment to housing opportunity.
Handling multiple social media platforms, with regular consistency, across many communities in various locations can be a large task. Often social media marketing responsibilities end up in the hands of property managers or leasing agents. While these staff members are uniquely positioned to know their property, they may or may not be well versed in social media, fair housing and more! Even if they are, they often do not have time to handle a large scale marketing effort.
Did you know? All of our social media managers at Blue Cricket Media are trained annually in the most current Fair Housing laws to always ensure our clients are well protected.
NEED HELP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA FOR YOUR STUDENT HOUSING?
Social Media for multifamily, particularly student housing, is especially important and is more affordable than you think! Be sure to contact Blue Cricket Media today for your free social media marketing assessment and to find out how we can help your community find social media success!