If you stop to think about it, each one of us is a unique marketer. With the integration of social media into our daily lives and the resulting expansion of our network via Facebook friends, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, etc. each of us has a significantly scaled up scope of influence and reach. Unknowingly, we have all evolved into living and breathing forms of advertisement. I believe this is an inevitable truth as social media continues to thrive and big business is constantly searching for and implementing various techniques to leverage our networks and market their brands. With 77% of B2C companies and 43% B2B companies claiming to have acquired customers through Facebook  and 80% of US social network users preferring to connect to brands through Facebook , it appears that businesses and their customers are on the same page. Ultimately, your consumer is your marketer and thus spawns the economy of likes, followers, and subscribers.
Arguably one of the most notable players enacting this strategy, BMW has been rigorously selling their brand experience for years. Paying attention to their advertisements, you will notice that oftentimes BMW commercials actually say absolutely nothing about the particular car. However, accompanied by dramatic music, flashing lights and tantalizing cut scenes of their sleek, ultimate driving machine racing through dark streets are enough to transcend the value of the experience of being part of the ‘black-tie’ BMW community. In addition, they maintain rankings of their fans via an online community, crowning “SuperFans,” or those that share content, post about, and essentially market BMW via social networks.
Although this type of marketing mentality runs rampant across many industries, we do not see it being utilized very well in the real estate and multifamily business. Yes, apartments, condos, and houses are not your typical goods, however, the same underlying principle of current digital marketing can be applied here to woo customers into falling in love with and preaching your brand: selling an experience versus a product. Everyone is aware of the basic functionality of a home, so advertising your property’s sweet gym, pool, parking, etc. besides the actual unit is not going to cut it. What can a home managed by your company offer besides a comfortable place to reside? Besides four walls and a roof, can your company foster its own sense of community? Can it offer a lifestyle and allow its residents to be a part of something greater than an apartment complex, sparking a feeling of belonging instead of just having your residents pay to take up space?
This is where you tap the social network of your tenants. Keeping your occupants happy is one thing, but making sure that everybody knows about it is another. No one checks ApartmentRatings.com daily, but you can bet they will be on one, if not more, social media sites numerous times a day. If I am looking for a new home, will I trust my friend’s suggestion and review or a lousy banner advertisement your outdated marketing team paid Google to feature on the top of the search list? The average number of Facebook friends of U.S. users in 2014 is 350  and even if your resident’s positive sentiment regarding your property reaches just 1% who happen to be looking for a new place to stay, that is 3 to 4 new sources of revenue. And that is just one person via one social media outlet, you do the math.
Decrease your vacancies and turnover rates by not only managing your property, but also taking the time to manage your customer experience. Each resident touch point (including callbacks, maintenance work, community events) can be used as a channel via social media to leverage their network and market your brand. Encouraging your residents to share their sentiment by providing organized social media outlets for your community can be an effective strategy when focusing on reengineering your business model to become more resident-centric. Consequently, with increased communication amongst your residents, not only with their outside friends but also neighbors via your property’s potential social network engagement, your consumers will become your most powerful marketers.
Anton Razanav is a Marketing specialist at ComVibe. ComVibe has effectively tamed real-time data collection and developed a solution for interactively engaging residents in the improvement and upkeep of their property while organizing and empowering maintenance crews and management with tools that promote professionalism and the maximization of staff potential. Their mobile, multiplatform system offers a simple and transparent user-friendly interface, actively connecting resident to maintenance workers while sustaining direct communication from start to finish of a particular task.