Let’s Get Visual: 5 Ways to Humanize Your Property

By Erica Campbell Byrum

We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and that axiom holds as true for multifamily marketers as it does for promoting consumer products. (Who doesn’t remember the Coca-Cola polar bears?) Fortunately, today’s social media provides a growing number of visual channels to help us reach and engage residents and prospects. The challenge is to do it effectively.

One of my guiding principles is to create visual marketing content that humanizes your brand. That means bringing your property to life by telling visual stories about the people who live and work there. It means leveraging Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to show – and not just tell – what’s going on in your community. It means giving your property a personality and evoking an emotional response that makes residents feel good about living there and inspires prospective renters to want to join the party. You can do this by:

1 – Spotlighting your employees. Introduce your team. Have them use Instagram to share their day-to-day experiences with the community. Showcase their birthdays and baby showers, celebrate their work anniversaries, highlight the smiling visages behind your leasing desk. These people are the face of your property. Use them to the hilt. Make sure to get signed consent forms though!

2 – Sharing resident photos and videos of community events. Post them live as the event is happening, the next day to thank people for coming, or images of last year’s BBQ or pool party pre-event to help increase attendance. Take your own snapshots and video as well, both for backup and for variety’s sake (the more, the merrier!). You can also use last year’s images on flyers for pre-event publicity to help create more excitement than standard text-based announcements. (If said images are of residents, make sure to get written consent first.)

3 – Featuring a resident of the week. Do you have a resident with an interesting background? A cool job? A couple who had their first child? Someone who has lived in your community for 5 or 10 years? Give them a shout out with a photo (again, get written consent first) and an explanation. Same with a resident who has left a nice review of your property. (“Thanks so much to Bobby, who left an awesome Google+ review of ABC Apartments!”) This helps build community and promote resident retention.

4 – Hosting an ‘Instagram Takeover.’ Invite a social-savvy employee or resident to create authentic user-generated content and take over your account for a few hours or for the day. He or she might provide apartment decorating ideas, entertaining suggestions, favorite local restaurants or apps, and other tips and tricks for making the most of local living.

5 – Running a social media contest. Crowdsourcing user-generated photos is a great way to assemble a content library as well as build community loyalty, especially if there is a prize like cash or a gift card involved. Just make sure that your contest rules release all the rights of that content to you. More tips on how to run a successful social media contest are at ‘The Ultimate Social Media Contest Timeline.’

I’ll be sharing more ideas about how to use visual social media in a 2-3:30 pm workshop called “Leveraging Ephemeral Social Media: Creating Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat Content That Keeps Viewers Engaged,” at the opening day of the Multifamily Social Media Summit on Wednesday, Jan. 31. See you there!

Erica Campbell Byrum (erica.campbell@forrent.com) is Assistant Vice President of Social Media for ForRent.com and Co-Author of Youtility for Real Estate.

Leave a Comment