Social media marketing is a lot like fishing…you cast a line into a pond, and then wait for the fish (aka prospects and existing clients) to respond. Fishing requires research, patience, and persistence. It is not as aggressive as some other tactics (like hunting), but can yield a bountiful catch…when done right.
The keys to successful “fishing” in the social media pond include:
- Identifying the right place to fish
- Using the most attractive bait
Property management company marketers, like professional fishermen, need to take time to analyze and strategize before dropping a line into the social media waters. You don’t need to participate in every social media venue available, but you do need to have a presence somewhere. There will be conversations taking place online about your company and it is better if you “host” the conversation instead of stumble upon it.
The First Step – Identifying the Right Place to Fish
There are a plethora of social media sites, and new ones spring up all the time. A few years ago, no one knew anything about Pinterest, but after three short years has become one of the most widely used social media sites around.
I’m going to focus on the top 4 social media platforms. Quite honestly, I don’t think anyone has the social media marketing world completely figured out yet – it is still relatively new and the social sites are always evolving. I’ll share what I’ve learned through using these sites for the last 5+ years and helping other businesses understand how to leverage them.
Remember, some of these sites offer personal profiles AND business/company pages – I’ve done my best to clearly differentiate between the two below. Click on a social site name below to read more about each platform.
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The Facebook Pond
Facebook reports that they have “more than a billion monthly active users as of December 2012.” This is a really big pond! However, they also report that about “82% of their monthly active users are outside of the U.S. and Canada;” this narrows the pool of people to approx 180 million…still not too shabby.
Obviously a major benefit to using Facebook is the sheer volume of people and activity. Many of your existing owners and tenants engage in Facebook activity on a regular basis. And, it’s attractive to people of all ages because it is a great way to connect with friends and family. If you can engage your Facebook Business Page followers well, you will become more visible to their connections as they like, share, and comment on your posts.
Earning interaction is a key to growing a strong Facebook Page network, and that’s not easy. Your followers spend most of their time on Facebook interacting with friends, playing games, or searching for people they know… they are not looking for new posts on your page or information from your company.
To intentionally draw attention to your Facebook Business Page, you might consider a paid advertising option; they are fairly affordable and allow you to target a particular segment of users. Here are the options I’ve used:
- Facebook Ad – This option allows you to define a target audience based on location, gender, age, likes & Interests, workplace, education, etc. Property management companies are local businesses, so you might display an ad to people in a specific set of zip codes, over X age, that are interested in Real Estate Investment.
- Facebook Promoted Posts – I actually like this option even better, but the targeting options are more limited. This allows you to pay to promote a specific post to people who already like your page and their Friends. If you are posting great content, then this will help you make sure more people see it and interact with it. I prefer this method because of the ability to promote content (like a blog article from your website) and attract traffic to your website.
Don’t get complacent…an “if I build it they will come” mentality will not grow your Facebook audience. You must actively promote the page by linking to it from your website, email newsletter, business card, promotional materials, etc. Once you create your page, you should actively invite others to follow it.
It’s likely that most of your Facebook Page following will be made up of existing clientele and partners so be prepared to respond to questions and address issues through your Facebook channel. As a consumer, I have frequently looked at a company’s Facebook page to see how they interact – it gives me an idea of the quality of service they provide. Your social savvy prospects may do the same. Be sure to communicate with your owners and tenants so they know when Facebook is NOT an acceptable communication channel (e.g. submitting a maintenance request) and when it is (e.g. sharing a suggestion).
The Twitter Pond
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that allows you to share short snippets of information and link to longer content. It can be a very good way to distribute content, but I find it even more valuable as a “listening” tool. It helps me discover hot topics, get ideas, and learn.
Building a network on Twitter is different than building a network on Facebook. Fewer people you know are using Twitter, so in addition to linking to your Twitter page from your website, email newsletter, business cards, etc. you might also:
- Use keyword searches (e.g. #propertymanagement) to discover people who are talking about the industry, then follow them. Some of them will follow you back, especially if you are sharing interesting information yourself.
- Follow and interact with industry influencers (e.g. @NARPM / @IREM_info )
- Then follow the people that follow those industry influencers, and the people those industry influencers follow.
- Look at your new followers on a regular basis and follow industry related people back.
- When you post a comment, use hashtags and keywords – these are searchable in Twitter (e.g. #phoenix #propertymanagement)
DO NOT use a services that promise to build your Twitter following quickly and DO pay attention to who is following you. There are some shady characters and practices on Twitter; that’s why I don’t build a following through automation and I block followers who seem “iffy” to me. Your goal is to build a quality following – not an enormous one.
It‘s harder to attract qualified prospects through Twitter, but not impossible. If you are using Twitter to drive traffic to your website or blog, make sure you have a way to capture the ones who are mildly interested in your services so you can follow up with them. Getting more site traffic is not your end goal…getting more business is. The leads you get from Twitter are less likely to pick up the phone and call you or schedule a free market analysis. Many will, however, sign up for quality information, such as a monthly newsletter or an educational series of emails.
By using Twitter to connect with industry leaders and other professionals, you can build a reputation that may lead to referral and partner relationships. For example, I met Julie Broad of RevNYou.com online. We’ve never met in person…however, I consider her a professional friend and we connect fairly regularly by email. I recently helped her edit her upcoming book. The time I’ve spent on Twitter has been valuable from that perspective, and it has helped me grow the Let’s Talk Property Management community.
Twitter now offers some paid advertising options and has begun to reach its members via email to facilitate network growth and make the quality (meaning it generates interaction) content more visible. But, I believe your marketing dollar is better spent on Facebook because it seems better suited for local marketing and the connections / recommendation power is stronger there. Most of the property managers I speak with tell me that referrals are their primary means of growth.
Even if Twitter is less likely to help you acquire new business, maintaining a presence there will help you learn, come up with ideas for creating your own content, and monitor conversation that might be taking place about your company.
The LinkedIn Pond
Your personal LinkedIn profile can serve as an online “resume” that details your skills, experience, and achievements, as well as collect recommendations and endorsements. The recommendations and endorsements can validate and reinforce your strong character, property management expertise, and help prospects become more confident in choosing you to manage their rental properties. You and your personnel should have profiles on LinkedIn and should link to them from the staff directory in your website. Maintaining a personal profile is low maintenance – I have not seen the level of interaction on LinkedIn that I see on Facebook and Twitter. Jean and I (Dee) both have personal profiles on LinkedIn.
Joining LinkedIn groups (like the NARPM® group) can help you connect with like-minded industry professionals to share your industry knowledge and learn from other experienced professionals. LinkedIn has more of a business to business focus than the other networks, which means you are most likely connect with “professional” investors, real estate agents, and other industry-related professional service providers. It could be a great way to build partnerships and find out about professional organizations that can help you achieve your goals. You can choose to actively participate in group discussions or simply log in once in awhile to read them.
We recently set up a Company Page for LandlordSource. This makes sense for us because we are selling products and services to businesses. We are able to highlight some of our products (or maybe eventually all of them) and our customers can post reviews and /or recommend them. This is a fairly new tactic for us…but we do see potential.
A LinkedIn Company Page may make sense for you too, but I’m not completely convinced that this is going to benefit local professionals, like property managers. It may help drive some traffic to your property management company website, but because of the business / professional focus of LinkedIn, these website visitors are probably seeking knowledge instead of looking to hire a property manager. LinkedIn has a paid advertising option too.
The YouTube Pond
YouTube receives more than 1 billion unique visitors per month. It has powerful potential. Videos can educate, entertain, engage, and elicit emotion in ways that written content simply cannot. YouTube videos also have strong search engine results if you use keywords wisely.
Property management companies can use video in so many different ways:
- Document property condition
- Give a virtual online showing of a property
- Promote trust and market your services
- Share client testimonials
- Introduce new services and train clientele how to use them
- Train and educate personnel
- And more
Like other social networks, YouTube encourages engagement. Viewers can comment, rate , and share interesting videos. However, one of the things I like best about YouTube is the ability to integrate the videos you host on YouTube with your website, blog, and Facebook to interest and activity on your own “web properties” instead.
Now that you understand the 4 biggest social media ponds, you can start to plan your fishing strategy. Identify your property management company’s online marketing goals, and then choose the social site(s) that will help you best achieve them. Don’t feel like you have to fish in all of these ponds at once – it is better to launch one strategy successfully than to have many ineffective social media marketing strategies.
Next Step – Baiting Your Hook!
At the beginning of this article, I told you there are 2 factors that contribute to a successful social media “fishing trip” – identifying the right place to fish and using the most attractive bait. In the last article of this series, I’ll give you some ideas to help you “bait your hook.”
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.