At our student housing assets, classes are ending and students are beginning to filter out of the market. This leaves many areas looking like ghost towns; making outreach marketing much harder and less effective. During the summer months, we should begin to shift our outreach efforts online. “But Ryan, how can I use my Tshirt Cannon 3000 on the internet machines?”
You might not be able to use your swag bazooka, but thinking strategically and using channels our target demographic frequent you can drum up some valuable leads. Check out these digital outreach ideas below.
Reddit University Pages
Most, if not all, Universities have subReddit pages. Students discuss everything from course recommendations to housing suggestions on these pages. By filtering posts with certain keywords such as “apartment” or “housing” you’ll be able to dig up instant prospects. Simply google “___Insert Name____ University Reddit” (make sure to put your target University’s name) and you should be able to find the subReddit you’re looking for. Once you’re in the subReddit click the “search” bar in the right-hand side and type in your desired keyword (such as apartment) and search. You can then sort posts by “new” to bring up the most recent posts to the top. You just struck gold. Reach out to prospects on any relevant posts and give them information about your community and any current specials!
Many students are active on University-related Facebook groups. These groups offer a forum for students to sell items, ask questions, and interact with each other. One particular set of groups that sees a lot of activity are incoming freshman groups. These groups are often names XYZ University Class of 1234 (i.e. Florida State University Class of 2022). Freshmen generally know less about university-related topics and are often more curious about these topics. If your community can house freshmen this could be a fantastic source for mining leads.
Simply search for a group on Facebook, click “join group”, wait for approval of your access request, and then look for opportunities in posts that you can offer up your community as a housing resource!
Hashtags can be a marketer’s best friend. When users use hashtags in their social media posts it gives marketers a backdoor into finding prospects. Many students will use hashtags that relate to their university which gives you an opportunity to engage in their conversation. For example, incoming freshmen at Florida State University are using #NowANole to declare that they are headed to FSU! There are many different hashtags that students might use that relate to the university. Do a little research about the top hashtags you should target and then get to mining!
Social Media Location Mining
What if I told you there was a way to interact with residents that live at your comps? Would you send me a million bucks? Great, you can make the check out to Ryan Sundling. Residents at your comps are likely taking photos at their apartment community and tagging their photos at that location. Simply look up the location on Instagram and have instant access to residents at your comps.
Influencers are people that use their large social media presences to subtly advertise products. For example, you may follow someone on Instagram that is a fitness guru. They may partner with a running shoe company and post a photo of them lacing up their new shoes. Those shoes happen to be from the company the influencer partnered with in exchange for money and/or free product. We can do the same thing but on a smaller level. Look for micro influencers at your target universities. This might be a popular frat president, fashion blogger, or other minor “celebrity”. Offer them a gift card if they post a story about them touring your apartment community.
Calling user-generated content (UGC) outreach marketing may be a stretch but it can be a great digital marketing weapon. UGC is when a social media user posts content on their profile about your brand. This could be a user attending one of your events, touring the community, a resident showing off their apartment, etc. Our goal is to encourage this content by offering contests and other incentives. One strong example is holding a contest with current residents where you ask them to create an Instagram story giving a Cribs-style tour of their apartment. In their story they need to include a certain hashtag and tag your community. At the end of the contest choose a winner and give them a prize like a smart home package. Additionally, ask the resident to download the story and email it to you in exchange for a $20 gift card and rights to use it for marketing purposes. Now you’ve had residents evangelize your community to their friends, many of whom are prospects, and you have tours of different unit types you can use to show future prospects each unit type!
Email Student Groups, Orgs, and Athletic Teams
If you can capture big groups of residents you’ll increase your chances of hitting 100% greatly. Student groups, organizations (i.e. greek life), and athletic teams all offer the opportunity to capture groups of leases. Reach our via email to these groups and offer your community as a living option. Personalize each email and offer something unique to that group. For example, if you’re reaching out to the swim team tell them about your great lap pool and that you’d reserve the pool for practice during a certain day and time just for them. Another approach is to offer tiered incentives based on the number of people that sign from that group. For example, if 4 people from the same Greek organization sign you give $200 to their philanthropy. If 8 people sign you’ll donate $800. If 12 or more sign you’ll donate $150 for each lease.
Outreach marketing can’t stop just because your market has fewer people physically in it. Hopefully, this post gives you a few more arrows in your quiver when marketing your community this summer.