Social Search for Apartments,The Next Big Thing

February 11, 2013

I am preparing a presentation for the Detroit Metropolitan Apartment Association on Digital Marketing for Apartment Leasing. We have talked about the importance of apartment management companies  establishing a significant Digital Footprint and that The Numbers Matter many times here at the Urbane Lab, however I think it mostly falls on deaf ears with our fellow apartment marketing friends and un-friends (those who do not like us, yet watch and critique our every move).

Until Apartment Marketers put stock in their web site being as important as their leasing center, not much will change. Your apartment community web site is your digital leasing center. Once that begins to resonate with apartment operators, they will begin to see the value of increased web site traffic. 

The multifamily industry is experiencing a shift in thinking surrounding web site traffic, however it is not close to mainstream, nor is it changing as rapidly as prospects search habits. The apartment operator that has awakened to the digital world still may still be afar from the mark as the conversation transitions to conversion ratios. Simply put, Do you know at your apartment community how many Unique Visitors are required to produce one Guest Card?

Do You Know Your Numbers

Website Numbers; 

How much web site traffic does it take to produce one Guest Card? At Urbane Apartments, we need to drive just under (50) Unique Visitors to produce (1) Guest Card. That is a web traffic conversion rate of 2.13%. Similarly, we need to drive (650) Unique Visitors to produce (1) Rental. 

Why Does It Matter?

It matters because over 80% of your leasing prospects type something into a search box before starting their apartment hunt. If you can get them to land on your web site first, and capture a Guest Card, absent other ILS (Internet Listing Services) marketing options  your marketing expenses go down. What gets measured gets attention. Start paying attention to your web site numbers, only good things will happen.

Social Outreach Numbers

 Commonly referred to as a your Digital Footprint, it merely means, what is your reach, said differently, how many Friends, Followers, Fans and Subscribers does your brand have. Note to self, anything less than several thousand has little leverage. At The Urbane Life, we get (65,000) Page Views per month and we sport over (13,000) Facebook Fans, just shy of (13,000) Twitter Followers, Listed by (311) different folks and a bit over (30,000) email subscribers. 

Why Does It Matter

It matters because that is where our prospects are hanging out. Not participating in Social Media today is akin to boarding up your clubhouse windows and doors. And Bigger IS Better, More is Better than Less when it comes to Friends, Followers and Fans. If your apartment community has less than a few thousand fans, you have little to no social leverage. Perhaps the social media wonks disagree, and chirp about Listening and Engagement first. Yes, those are ever so important, however until you have built a fairly substantial digital base, there is no leverage or velocity. 

Social Search 

When Facebook rolls out their Social Graph, business with the most Fans, Likes and Check-In’s will have a distinct advantage. In the simplest terms, the Facebook Graph is a database of everything anyone has done on Facebook – what they liked, where they’ve been, who they’ve connected with, etc. Graph Search allows you to tap into that database, and find information that is uniquely relevant to you and your friends. This means the same search will provide different results for every user.

Graph Search results are driven by what users do on Facebook: liking, commenting, tagging, sharing, etc. This is a fairly vague concept, but seeing how it actually works starts to create some very big implications for business – particularly location-based businesses.

Let’s say I’m thinking of traveling, and I want to see what hotels my friends are recommending on Facebook – this is determined by which hotels they’ve liked and interacted with. The simple query “Hotels my friends like” yields over 100 results for me, showing key information about the hotels, linking to the hotel Facebook page, allowing me to like the pages, view photos and videos, and more.

This my friends should be enough of a reason to grow the numbers, Social Search is The Next Big Thing. Start today, Build Your Digita Footprint, it isn’t that hard. 



Eric Brown

Eric’s background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for a major Midwest apartment developer. He established a proven track record of effectively repositioning existing rental properties in a way that added value for investors while enhancing the resident experience. He also established Urbane Media, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested. Eric has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine and Business Week Magazine. You can connect with Urbane_Media on Twitter. Eric also writes regular articles for the following publications;  Multi Housing News Social Media Examiner Search Engine Guide

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