Chances are you probably already use websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up with your friends and current events. But did you ever think of these sites as tenant attraction tools?
As it turns out, social media can be an excellent way to land a tenant. It’s not quite as simple as posting an ad on Craigslist, but once you get the hang of it, you might even prefer it. Here’s how to get started.
First, decide which social media sites are best for you
Choosing the right platform is a critical step that you should put some thought into before launching your rental campaign. You’ll want to spend your marketing time on the sites in which your posts have the most impact. This can be different for different landlords.
Ask yourself: Who is your ideal tenant, and where does that person hang out online?
If you rent to students, for example, Twitter or Instagram could be a very good bet for you. Try LinkedIn to connect with potential commercial tenants and to spread the word in the business community that you have space for rent. Facebook is good for almost any type of property, since almost everyone old enough to rent property has a Facebook account.
Next, you’ll need to decide if you want to post as yourself or set up a page/profile for your property management business. If you manage properties professionally, or if most of your social media connections are outside your local area, you will probably want to opt for the latter option. However, you can always post to both your business and private networks to optimize your reach.
If you are new to social media, it’s a good idea to start with just one social network. Once you’re confident about using that one, you can add other platforms.
Expand your social network to reach more prospects
Once you have your profile(s) set up, you’ll want to start making connections to build your network. Here are a few ways to increase your social media followers:
• Ask your current tenants to follow you.
• Ask your local friends and business network to follow you.
• If you have to turn down good tenants when you are full, encourage them to follow you as an easy way to keep in touch in case they are looking for property again in the future.
• Put links to your social media profiles on your website.
• Include your social media links in your email signature.
• Mention your profiles in marketing materials such as ads or brochures.
• Follow other local businesses on social media—many will follow you back, and then you have a chance to get in front of their followers.
• Leave helpful comments on other users’ posts—people will often follow people whom they perceive as helpful and nice.
• Post good, helpful information that people want to see.
What should you post on social media?
Of course, the whole point of doing this is to attract tenants. When you have space for rent, make it a major focus! Even though selling is usually taboo on many social networks, most people view posts about available property as an exception. If you include pictures and the place looks nice, many people may even share your posts as a favor to others who might be looking to rent.
Be sure to share lots of photos. Posts with pictures are more likely to earn comments and shares, and they will encourage prospects to imagine themselves renting your property. You can also post about amenities you offer and availability dates.
However, not all your posts should be promotional. Social media is just that—social! Post information that will interest your intended audience.
Especially on Facebook, you’ll do well to include fun, positive and friendly posts. Positive quotes are always appreciated, as are beautiful photos and commentary on local events.
Sharing and commenting on posts from other local businesses is a nice gesture that people in your network will appreciate—and they likely will reciprocate by sharing your news in return. If you are on good terms with commercial neighbors, ask them to share your for-rent announcements—this is a great way to get the word out.
Finally, if you rent to commercial tenants, ask them to send you their news, and shout it out. As your follower count grows, this can be a significant extra perk that will keep them happy to continue renting from you.
How often should you post?
Social media is different from advertising. It’s all about forming relationships. When people feel like they know and like you, they are more likely to share and comment on your news, which ultimately gets you in front of more people.
For best results, post often—daily if possible. For Facebook and Instagram, once or twice a day is fine. The sweet spot for LinkedIn is once a day, during business hours. For Twitter, more is better—aim for three to seven times a day.
Protect yourself from the dark side of social media
The negative side of social media is that it can quickly get out of hand if not used with tact. It’s a very good idea to have a written social media policy and be sure any marketing personnel who post to your profiles are trained. In your policy, you’ll want to outline the tone you expect them to use for company posts, as well as approved procedures for handling negative comments.
Be prepared, too, to handle complaints from current tenants as well as inquiries from prospective ones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your social media presence is a window into what it’s like to rent from you. If you think of social media as a customer service channel and reply to existing tenants promptly and politely—taking care of their needs and resolving issues quickly—you’ll make a good impression on prospects. Don’t be surprised if you find high-quality tenants proactively coming to you!
Social media for the bottom line
As you know, every month a unit goes unrented is a major blow to the wallet. It makes sense to get in front of as many prospective tenants as you can. Social media is a cost-effective way to do this, and the longer you do it, the easier it becomes. When properly handled, social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer a tremendous opportunity for property managers to find and retain quality tenants.
Have you ever recruited tenants using social media? What was your experience?
Anne Michelsen is a freelance writer with expertise in areas including construction, small business management and sustainability (www.thegreeninkwell.com).
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