9 Tips to Create a Vibrant Apartment Community Facebook Page
You’re an apartment community, and you created a Facebook page. Great!
Creating your Page was easy enough – you filled in the basic info, uploaded a profile image and even got some people to “like” the Page. You’re hoping that Facebook can assist with your goals of attracting and retaining high-value residents, fostering a community environment within your property and creating experiences that differentiate your property from the competition. Facebook can, in fact, be helpful in all of these areas. But where do you go from here?
We have a simple suggestion:
Start by focusing your efforts on existing residents!
Since your existing residents are your best referral source, get them to “like” your Page and engage on your Wall. Facebook is your opportunity to build strong relationships and turn these residents into your own personal sales force. Below we’ll share some basic ways to get the ball rolling – for both new and advanced Facebook Page administrators.
1. Add a “Find Us on Facebook” Badge to Your Website
Place the badge prominently on your company’s website. This will help alert residents to your presence on Facebook and drive traffic to your page. Facebook provides logos and guidelines that can be used to create this link. Note that the Facebook icon should not be any larger than the Equal Housing Opportunity logo that you have hopefully and wisely placed on your website.
Similarly, include a link to your Facebook Page in the signature of every email you and your colleagues send out. If you use web-based email, check out the WiseStamp signature add-on.
2. Create a Vanity URL
Creating a short, readable URL (web address) for a Page makes it more appealing to both people and search engines – and it’s easier to remember! Page owners can set a custom page URL (also referred to as “vanity URLs”) at www.facebook.com/username/ as long as the Page has at least 25 “Likes.” Be careful when you do this; the custom URL can only be set once and cannot be edited!
3. Display a Sign in Your Office
Place a placard on the front desk letting residents know you’re on Facebook. Include the Facebook icon, your Facebook web address (i.e. Facebook.com/username) and make the sign prominent enough so customers will see it. For example, you can put a decal on your office window, mount it on foam board and put it on an easel, place it in a clear acrylic stand on each office desk, or post it on the wall by the mailboxes, in the elevator, or on all bulletin boards.
This is an example of a window decal that Facebook sent out to select retail businesses last year. “Text to Like” is available to any Page with a custom (“vanity”) URL
4. Get Fans to Tag Photos
If you host live events like potlucks or seasonal activities like a pool party or cookout for example, be sure to take plenty of photos (or even hire a professional photographer), load the photos to your fan page and encourage residents to tag themselves. Just be sure that you have appropriate model releases from anyone whose photo you will be using. When your residents tag themselves, those photos go out into their Wall and friends’ News Feeds, providing valuable (and free!) exposure to potential new residents. With the abundance of smart phones, encourage your residents to photograph and post their own pictures to your community page and to their own Facebook walls, too. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, people notice the thumbnails in their feeds more than text.
Insider Tip: On the business page select ‘Edit Page’ then go to ‘Apps’, look under the PHOTO App where – it says ‘GO TO APP’. Then click ‘ALLOW ALL FANS TO TAG’ and hit save.
Be sure, of course, that what you post is fair housing compliant so that the photos do not show a lack of diversity as to race, color, national origin and gender. And unless your community is senior housing, be sure to include photos of children. And if you have residents with disabilities, don’t leave them out of the photos you post, either.
Important Note – Don’t Forget to Make it Personal:
Speaking of photos, adding photos of your leasing agent team in your photo albums is a great idea to humanize the organization, as well as signing your posts with your own name. Remember that you will need model releases from employees, too. And again, be sure that what you post is fair housing compliant so that the photos do not show a lack of diversity as to race, color, national origin and gender within your employee population.
5. Utilize Facebook Places
Similar to Foursquare and Gowalla, Facebook Places allows users to see where their friends are and share their location in the real world. After “checking in,” Facebook creates a story that goes in friends’ News Feeds.
By claiming your apartment community as a “Place,” you will have the ability to merge it with your community’s Facebook page. This will allow your page to double as a location, which broadens your marketing capabilities. Your Page will be enhanced with Place information such as maps, business hours, contacts and a list of friends who are currently checked in. Please note that when we build your Facebook Page, Facebook automatically merges it with your community’s Page.
You can offer deals in exchange for a Place check-in. In exchange for multiple check-ins, your community can offer a free item. In turn, the check-ins can fuel word-of-mouth promotion of your community because you will appear in their news feeds, allowing other friends to see it. Another idea is to also offer a gift or a $20 discount off the next month’s rent for the first ten residents who check-in, incentivizing people to respond quickly.
The most basic benefit of having a Place is that you can centralize what people are doing and saying about your business using the feature – you don’t need to be actively involved in your Place in order to get value out of it. Users will do that themselves, by finding your place, checking in and broadcasting this activity to their friends and to other people looking at the Place.
For more information on Facebook Places, check out their FAQs
6. Do Cross Promotions with Local Businesses
According to a joint survey between Exact Target and CoTweet in 2010, Facebook users choose to “like” a Page to show support of the company, stay informed on its activities, get updates on products and services, get exclusive content or simply for fun and entertainment. These all are reasons why your community’s residents would be motivated to “like” your Page.
Yet another key reason users “like” a Page is to receive discounts or offers. This creates an opportunity to connect your community to local businesses and to give your residents special access to discounts or incentives.
Image Source: ExactTarget
If you’re not already providing discounts and incentives, talk to business owners at local restaurants, dry cleaners, hardware stores, nail salons, etc, to see if they would create a special promotion for your residents or provide a discount for residents redeemable on a certain day.
7. Host a Contest or Sweepstakes on Your Page
User engagement is the primary goal of every Facebook Page. A company’s Page is a platform where they can increase overall awareness and loyalty by listening to customers and by encouraging conversation. One of the best ways to boost engagement is by hosting a contest, giveaway or sweepstakes on the Page. We mentioned a giveaway sponsored by a local retailer above, but other ideas could be $100 off one month’s rent, a gift certificate, a cutest pet photo upload contest, a hide and seek contest (hide an object on the premises such as a golden egg or a gnome and have residents post a photo of it to win). Just be sure that before you promote a contest or sweepstakes that such event is in fact legal, and that you have not inadvertently offered an illegal lottery. [If you need to know more about contests, sweepstakes and lotteries, check this video out]
Facebook actively regulates and monitors contests to protect their users. They post the guidelines at www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php with a warning that they can remove any materials related to the promotion or disable the Page, application or account altogether if violations are found. In short, contests must be conducted through a Facebook app as there are limitations on what an entrant can be required to “like” as a prerequisite, and new “likes” cannot be automatically entered into a contest. The guidelines spell out a list of what can and cannot be done along with required disclaimers.
Examples of paid contest apps include Promoboxx ($99), Shortstack ($9-$75) and Wildfire ($35-$400+). Free apps include Appbistro (only some applications are free), Easypromos (the first promotion is free for Pages with less than 5,000 fans), and Offerpop (the promotion application is free for Pages with less than 500 fans). With most of these applications, there’s less need to worry about breaching Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines because they are built into the application.
8. Post on Local Business Pages
As an admin of a Facebook Page, you can post comments on other Facebook Pages as your page. To do this, click on Account in the upper right hand corner. In the drop-down menu, select “Use Facebook as [Your Page].” The Page mode allows you to post content as your Page on the walls of Pages you have liked. You can also “like” and comment as your Page on any wall posts of Pages you’ve liked.
So, don’t be shy. Identify the best, well-“liked,” local businesses on Facebook, post helpful, interesting comments on their Wall and let their fans in the neighborhood get to know you via your high-value (never self-promotional!) comments. When these fans need to rent an apartment, they’ll click over to you to see what your community is all about.
Center your comments on useful, thoughtful information relating to the neighborhood such as “Don’t forget – Oak Street will be blocked off Sunday for the music festival” or “Our (town name) Fire Department is conducting a great Emergency Preparedness Workshop this Saturday! Find out more at (web link).” Your goal is to be a trusted friend, not just another business trying to sell something.
9. Ask Facebook Questions
Facebook Questions lets you ask any question and get quick answers from your resident fans (and other people who secondarily view the Question) on Facebook. When you ask a question, it is shared in the News Feed. If a resident answers or follows that question, it will be shared with their friends and so on.
From the top of your Page’s Wall, click “Question.” Enter your question in the “Ask Something” field. If you want to make your question a poll, click “Add Poll Options” below the open field. Some questions that might be helpful to residents could ask “What’s the best dog park?” or “What’s your favorite Chinese restaurant?” or “What should the theme of the next resident event be?” or “Where’s the safest place to park your car near the ball park if the lot is full?”
In summary, these ten steps will bring you closer to your residents, strengthen the whole of your off-line community and encourage referrals. Look out for future articles where we will expand on some of these ideas. Until then, happy Facebooking!
Facebook How-To Webinars for Expert-Level Communities
For those communities who’ve selected the Expert Level for the Marketplace Network, For Rent Media Solutions is conducting monthly webinars which go into more detail and provide demos to help community managers and property management companies use Facebook and Marketplace even more effectively.
Stay tuned for email announcements for the upcoming June webinar exclusively for Marketplace Expert customers.
1. Get at least 25 people to “Like” your Page and create a custom (vanity) URL.
2. Print out and place a “Follow Us on Facebook” sign in your office window and on each desk.
Category: Apartment Life