Apartment Living BlogFeatured › Winning Budget for Social: 6 Tips for Apartment Pros

Erica Campbell Byrum

For most businesses today, running a marketing campaign without a social media component is the equivalent of buying a car without the A/C package. Social media ads and posts have become as indispensable as websites and traditional media in the marketing mix. Yet, for many apartment professionals, securing the funds to put social on the marketing map is still a tough sell. And that’s a major handicap when it comes to finding and signing tenants.


With the social universe now exerting such deep influence on consumer purchasing behavior, any business that ignores social channels does so at its own peril. If prospective renters can’t find you easily in local search rankings or in apps like Waze and Google Maps, if they don’t see your ads on Facebook and Instagram, if they see negative online reviews or none at all, and especially if competitive properties have more social visibility and credibility – you will eventually find yourself looking at a record number of unrented units.


Clearly, you can’t afford to let that happen. You need to plead your social case in terms that your executive team will understand.  Here are six effective ways to get their attention.


1 – Speak their language. Don’t start by asking for budget for Facebook ads or online reputation management. Instead, explain how a social strategy can support your team’s business goals, targets and KPIs. Do they want to increase the number of inquiries on a given property by a certain percentage? Fill rental vacancies an average of five days faster than before? Expressing your requests in ROI terms will help get their ear.


2 – Let the trend numbers tell the story. Two numbers should do the trick. First, brands spent 65% more on advertising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest in 2016 than in 2015. Second, social media spend is expected to double from 10% of today’s marketing budgets to 20% by 2021, with over 25% of B2C marketing budgets to be dedicated to social channels in five years’ time. This dramatic growth should help reassure your leadership that they’ll be left behind if they don’t join the party.


3 – Explain the risks of the ‘Zero Moment of Truth.’  It should come as no surprise to your team that today’s prospective renters head straight for online resources such as search engines, review sites, social networks like Facebook, and blogs/forums/message boards to check out apartments they see advertised. This is what Google calls the ‘Zero Moment of Truth,’ and it’s precisely the point in the sales funnel where you’re the most vulnerable if you’re missing or underperforming on these critical touch points. Stress that you will not only lose leads that you spent significant money to generate through direct mail, print, PPC and other marketing efforts, but also push prospects to competitors if you’re not social-savvy at the stage where it counts.


4 – Show them the (lost) money. One way to do this is to demonstrate the cost of negative online reviews. Harvard Business Review, for example, has reported that a difference of one star in the average business rating can lead to a 5-9% difference in revenues. (You might remind your team of how many products they didn’t buy or restaurants they didn’t choose because reviewers gave them a thumbs down.) Other studies have shown that one negative review can cost 30 leads. If you do the math, you can demonstrate that losing just one lease a month for a $950 apartment because of a negative review adds up to over $74,000 in lost revenue over the course of a year.


5 – Provide competitive context.  With a little legwork, you can assemble a social media audit illustrating what your competitors are doing on social media platforms from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and more. Information such as number of followers, date of last post, frequency of posting, monthly referral traffic, clicks per post, and how some of these measures have changed over time is readily available if you know how to find it, helping you show that competitors have entered the social game and prove that you need to throw your hat in the ring. 


Better yet, show them how your property scores with this free Custom Online Presence Report that evaluates your property based on your directory listings, customer feedback, social engagement and how you stack up to the industry standard. If nothing else, a sub-standard score here would help substantiate your position for a social budget.


6 – Quantify the ROI. Obviously, you don’t have a crystal ball into the activity that your social efforts will generate, but you can make some educated guesses that will help your team see the value of social in dollars. If each social ad click to your website costs $3.99, for instance, 300 clicks equals $1,197 in equivalent social ad value. If you get 50 online social leads at an assigned value of $10 each, that’s $500 in social media-assigned equivalent dollars. If consumers post 80 unique, brand-specific, user-generated content photos at 70% photo shoot quality and an equivalent $12,000 photo shoot yields an average of 30 quality photos, that’s $22,400 in equivalent photography value. These tangible dollar amounts do exactly what we suggested in tip #1: they speak your team’s language.


No doubt that it’s a challenge to change the mindset at the top levels of your organization to convince them to factor social into the marketing equation, but it’s as essential these days as having a property that fits your target audience’s needs and preferences.


It’s also a challenge to manage all of the pieces of the social media puzzle, especially if you’re handling more than one property. If you need help, contact the ForRent.com Social team at FRSocial@forrent.com to learn about our Social Concierge and Social Ad Boost services. We‘ve got you covered.

About Erica Campbell Byrum: Assistant Vice President of Social Media for ForRent.com. Co-Author of Youtility for Real Estate. Speaker. Perpetual Hostess. Wine Lover. Wanderlust. @ericacampbell

Erica Campbell Byrum


Erica Campbell Byrum, assistant vice president of social media for ForRent.com®, is a real estate marketing expert with more than twelve years of experience, co-author of Youtility for Real Estate, a recipient of the 2014 PR News Social Media MVP Award, a recipient of the 2015 Sarah Malone Award, as well as, President’s Club winner for 2016. Byrum is a well-regarded speaker at both national and state apartment associations. Byrum is responsible for developing and managing the corporate social media road map and has pioneered ForRent’s strategic social media path through the launch of Social Concierge, a complete social media management, reputation management, and resident retention offering.

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