Micro-Influencers can be a great marketing strategy for growing the social media traction of your apartment community. Start your campaign with these five tips.
Earlier this year, we presented eight different tactics your apartment community could apply with Instagram stories that would lift your social presence and build your network. In the same vein, partnering with micro-influencers is another strategic approach to grow your apartment community’s social media traction and, in turn, strengthen resident retention and welcome new renters.
Are you trying to connect with your digital audience on social media but you’re falling short? Maybe your posts feel inauthentic or your page engagement is flat-lining. For apartment communities, one way to expand your social media presence is to leverage micro-influencers.
Look to your population of residents and find partners who align with your brand and message. Consider ways to create the peer-to-peer communication that has impact and builds connection. Notably, every dollar spent on influencer marketing has an average return of $7.65 in media value.
Here are five steps to implement a micro-influencer campaign for your apartment community:
1. Select Your Influencers
The goal is to seek out residents who have large social networks to advocate for your brand. However, when looking at your population of apartment renters, Kissmetrics cautions against a partnership that’s based solely on numbers. “In 2018, it’s less about riding the coattails of whomever is most popular at any given moment, and more about building meaningful relationships and finding the influencers that reflect your brand ethos.”
Instead of making your selection based on number of followers, look for lifestyle partners, relevance to your industry, and potential connection to your target audience. For example, interior design enthusiasts are likely to connect with your followers interested in beautiful rental apartments. Residents who are active locally can post about the neighborhood and area activities. Or trendsetters can speak to the lifestyle and overall vibe of your apartment community — tech-friendly, commuting to work by bike, or local hangouts.
Also look to your employees as potential micro-influencers. These people are the face of your property. So showcase their birthdays or have them share their day-to-day to humanize your business.
2. Define Your Objectives
Start by reaching out to the potential micro-influencers that you’ve selected. Send them an email or direct message that clearly states what you had in mind. Also, it’s polite to give the person an easy out so that they can feel okay about saying no if they’re not interested.
Keep in mind that the relationship works best when it’s a true partnership — listen to what your influencer’s ideas are, but you don’t have to hand over the reins entirely.
NMHC shared a micro-influencer success story from Jennifer Staciokas, Senior VP at Pinnacle. “She had a property where there were a number of penthouse units that were proving challenging to lease up. So, her marketing team reached out to three influential bloggers in the area and invited them to come live the penthouse lifestyle for a weekend—all expenses paid—in exchange for blogging about the experience.” Staciokas later tied apartment leases back to that micro-influencer event.
3. Identify Metrics, Goals, Audience, and Platforms
Set the goals and metrics of what you hope to achieve with your micro-influencer campaign. For example, do you want to grow your brand awareness, increase engagement, or increase followers? Consider these goals when selecting your social media platform. Know your target audience. For example, Snapchat is popular with young adults. Photos are good for Instagram or Pinterest. For video, use Facebook or YouTube.
Keep in mind that when using social media to connect to a Gen Z audience, influencers should keep it casual with informal language and avoid picture-perfect staging. Also, be sure to use strong visuals in all content including compelling photos, video tours, or floorplans like those included in the Apartments.com network packages.
4. Try These 10 Content Ideas
Try these ideas with your apartment community’s social feed:
- Host an Instagram Takeover where one of your lifestyle influencers takes over your account for a few hours, for a day, or for a weekend during a big event.
- Have a micro-influencer do a Snapchat Stories Takeover to share a “day in the life.”
- Partner with micro-influencers to run Loop Giveaways on Instagram.
- Have a writer in your community? Ask the resident to create a blog post for your site.
- Host a workshop at the clubhouse where a micro-influencer educates residents on how to grow their following and personal branding. Of course, have your influencer post about their experience.
- Partner with a foodie in your community who can add to your Facebook feed of recipes, cooking tips, and recommendations of the best local eateries.
- Tap into residents with large followings to promote property events.
- Know a resident who has a good eye for photography or design? Have them shoot an impromptu YouTube video of community amenities such as a fitness center, lounge, or shared garden space.
- Pay attention to your community’s online reputation and ask your micro-influencers to leave positive reviews for your apartment community.
5. Influencer Transparency Rules from the FTC
While social media was once the “Wild West” for influencer marketing, the Federal Trade Commission’s Enforcement Guidelines state that influencers must fully disclose any “material connections between advertisers and endorsers.” In this context, the FTC classifies a paid endorsement as any post for which compensation includes cash payment, services, discounts, or other incentives.
To help with this, social platforms have added disclosure tools. You can use the Instagram Branded Content feature or Facebook’s Branded Content feature to disclose that the post is a paid sponsorship. YouTube’s Paid Promotion tag can help you inform audiences that the video contains an endorsement.
However, the FTC's best practices cautions: “don’t assume disclosures built into social media platforms are sufficient.” In addition, they say to “ensure your sponsorship disclosure is hard to miss.” Guidelines also recommend making sure that the disclosure is visible without clicking the “more” button, and it’s not enough to use ambiguous disclosures like #thanks, #collab, #sp, #spon, or #ambassador. In particular, they recommend superimposing the disclosure over posts on image-only platforms like Snapchat.
Additionally, influencer statements must be truthful and not misleading to their audiences. Both influencers and advertisers are liable for any false claims.
For more information, the FTC Endorsement Guide FAQ provides a clear explanation of the regulations. Based on our experience working with micro-influencers, we recommend these three steps:
- Inform the influencers about their disclosure responsibilities.
- Regularly monitor what the influencers are saying.
- Follow up if there are any problems or questionable practices.
All in all, micro-influencers are an effective tactic to elevate your social profiles and lend additional credence to your property. For additional content and local trends, take a look at Social Concierge, a full-service solution to manage your online reputation and social marketing efforts.
Erica Byrum (firstname.lastname@example.org) is assistant vice president of social media with Apartments.com and Co-Author of "Youtility for Real Estate."