Internet Marketing for Property Managers: How to Reach Your Target Audience with Social Media
Over the last three posts, we’ve introduced all you internet-savvy property managers to the various types of content used in internet marketing; the concept of a sales funnel and how it works in terms of both people and content; and finally to the mechanics of SEO and how links and keywords connect content to create a “juice funnel” that will drive your most important web pages higher up on the search engine results. We ended that post with a note that the only remaining piece of the puzzle was making sure that your content was getting looked at—and so, let’s get started on the voodoo that is social media.
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Why Social Media Matters to Your SEO Efforts
The content funnel, once optimized through the SEO process, turned into both a way to move people toward your sales page and a way to funnel juice to your sales page. Social media performs a very similar dual purpose by putting your content directly in front of the eyes of interested people and by kickstarting the juice that your newest content builds in its first days of existing.
In our previous post, we mentioned the “freshness boost” that every new page on the internet gets just for being new. It’s a pretty significant boost, but the vast majority of new content just goes to waste by doing nothing in particular with those first few days. It just sits there, being new and getting a few extra people looking at it because it’s higher up on the search engine results than it will be once the freshness boost wears off. And that’s it.
But that boost is a great time to build the number of people who are viewing your content (which, remember, is one of the key elements of how much juice that content has in the first place) and how long they’re staying on that page and within that domain (a second key element). If you can use social media to get more people viewing and spending time on your page during the freshness boost, the boost and the “normal” juice factors will stack up to drive the content even further up the search engine results. This means more people will be looking at your content.
In its ultimate form, this creates a self-reinforcing spiral that can take a piece of genuinely killer content viral—but that’s, like, one in a billion. If you can consistently ride that spiral up just a few iterations and get a 10 percent increase from where you would be if you hadn’t done any social media-ing, you’ll reach the goal of “enough juice on your sales pages that clients come to you and ask you to work with them” in half the time of someone who doesn’t do all that.
Of course, that’s just the SEO part. Social media is also great for several marketing purposes all on its own, including:
- Answering questions from your customer base
- Getting your name and logo out into relevant communities
- Establishing your expertise in front of potential future clients
- Directing traffic into your sales funnel
Caring Is Sharing
But really the thing that sets social media apart from other forms of marketing is that it’s all about getting your client base to market for you. Only they don’t call it marketing, they call it “sharing this thing with people who will appreciate it.” Obviously, that means that any social media post that doesn’t get shared is a failed social media post. But how do you get your social media content shared in the first place?
The answer boils down to one word: emotion. Emotion is what makes people care about something, and people who care are people who share. Here are some of the most share-inducing emotions and an example of how to trigger each one:
- Outrage: Present them with a short, provocative fact (best written across or next to a relevant and powerful image) that will outrage them and provoke them into commenting and counter-commenting. Don’t include a link in this kind of post since you don’t want them to follow the link to a larger piece of content and then get distracted from their outrage. Instead, include the link as the first comment. Remember to keep it relevant to your audience—probably either current tenants or potential owner-clients—and explain in the link comment how you solve or work around the problem.
- Relief: Give your tenants a short explanatory video that tells them everything they need to know in order to do some annoying thing your lease demands that they do, and share it with the world. For example, our lease requires all of our Detroit tenants get a water affidavit with the city, which is just demanding enough that we have to attach a monthly fee if they don’t do it. That’s a great example of something that could be turned into a video—all your tenants will want to see it, but there are lots of other people out there searching for that information who could benefit from it and share it with others
- Humor: Tell a story about a time that something truly weird (in a funny way) happened with one of your units or tenants, and explain how you resolved the situation. That’s better in the form of a blog post, but you can totally hook that to a funny summary of the story and post that with a link attached to it on your social media channels. Memes are a great way to do this if you’re familiar enough with the medium to use them in context. “Not that it’s any of my business, but… I don’t think your pet policy includes alligators.”
- Curiosity: Very similar to humor—tell a story about something truly weird (in an unusual way) that happened in the course of doing business, and then make your social media post about it and ask a question that people need to know the answer to. “They got evicted, and they left behind a live WHAT!?”
- Other industries can make good use of other emotions, like fuzziness (i.e. the “awwww” feeling), gratitude, badass-ness, or hope, and you should definitely keep an eye out for the chance to deliver on those emotions if they arise—but in general, they’re not likely to be deliberately generated as easily as the top four.
People experiencing these emotions naturally want to share them with the people they care about, which is what actually prompts them to share your post.
The Social Pitfalls of Capitalism
This is important enough to get its own section, so read it twice.
YOU CANNOT MAKE MOSTLY POSTS THAT ARE OBVIOUSLY FOR YOUR OWN FINANCIAL GAIN.
(Well, obviously, you can, but you’ll fail at social media if you do.)
Social media is about giving away valuable content, and getting the benefits of free marketing of that content. If you use your social media to try to overtly sell things—including yourself—people will never follow you, or worse, they’ll outright block you.
You should follow at least an 80/20 rule: Post four pieces of content that have no direct benefit to your business for every one you post that links to a sales page or otherwise is plainly profit-motivated (90/10 is usually better). The more people see you as a source of value rather than a seeker of value, the more readily they’ll follow, like, and share.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re posting in a location or from a separate account that is plainly intended for selling (or renting, as the case may be).
The Mighty Influencers
Social media channels are “social” because they allow all of the people who are following you to see all of your posts. This is all well and good unless you have relatively few followers, which is where pretty much all of us are—there’s just not a lot of really obvious reasons for people to follow your social media page.
That means that if you want to reach a large audience, you have to convince someone who does have a ridiculous number of followers to share your posts with their audience. These folks are typically referred to as “influencers,” and being an influencer is a business in and of itself—some even sell their likes and shares. Not that we would ever suggest buying them; you’re better off using the process below.
If you want to reach an influencer and have a passable chance of earning an “organic” like or a share, you need to first identify who your “local” influencers are (as in, the ones that your target market segment are already following). Then, research the kinds of things they most often share, and craft a set of content specifically to appeal to them. Then share it with them, or post it in a place you know they frequent.
This is obviously somewhat of a gamble, but if you can get even a few shares from the same influencer within a few months, your chance of getting the attention of part of their audience is substantial. Fortunately, there’s nothing about this targeting process that keeps you from using the same content as a part of your regular sales and SEO funnels. It’s some research up front, but once you’ve done that, you can just whip out a blog post once every other month or so with that influencer in mind, and go about your business knowing you’ve effectively purchased a raffle ticket to Share Mountain.
Location, Location, Location
Where you post has a powerful effect on how you can post. Some social media have only individual feeds to post on and share–Twitter and Instagram both fall into this category. But many—like Facebook, LinkedIn, and most famously Reddit—also have some form of group area whose topic is determined at creation by the creators. On those channels that have such groups, it can be to your benefit to participate. Just be careful to keep your value-giving to value-seeking ratio high, because most of those groups are moderated by people who are sensitive to profit-seekers and will happily ban you if you’re overt about it.
One of the ways that you can define your target market segment in the first place is to look up Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, and subReddits that are both relevant and busy. Is there a Detroit property investment Facebook group? Of course there is! Is it busy enough to be worth posting in? At the moment, but that could change overnight. Don’t trust us; go check for yourself.
Searching the social media for “[your city]property” is a good way to start, but get creative. It’s a lot less likely that there’s a group for people looking to rent, but heck, you never know. Again, the only reason not to search is time constraints.
But Shares Aren’t Everything!
Getting shared is very much the purpose of social media—but you have to balance the need to get shared with several other factors, like:
- Presenting your business in the way you want it to be seen
- Posting content relevant to the audience you’re posting in front of
- Adhering to all of the relevant legal and ethical standards for social media use.
The last thing you want to do is go viral for something that makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing, or like you’re a jerk in the first place!
…And speaking of last things, that was our last thing! We’ve introduced you to everything a small-to-medium property management company needs to get started legitimately marketing themselves online. Of course, there’s always more to know. We haven’t even started covering things like pay-per-click marketing, Facebook advertising, or email marketing, all of which are easily worth a post. Maybe if this series turns out to be popular enough, we’ll keep going—we’ll have to see. Until then, good luck marketing your property management company online!
How do you reach your audience with social media—and what’s your favorite platform to use (and why)?