‘Guest Column’ with Scott Yahraus: Using Facebook at Your Properties

It is not a question any more, rather a certainty. Facebook is here to stay. It has become a part of our everyday lives. Once thought to be used only by Generation “Y”, social media has transformed our lives. The largest growing demographic happens to be females 40 years old and above.

If the first phase of the Internet was to get everyone connected, then this second phase of the Internet is about getting the human network connected to each other. I recently heard on NPR (National Public Radio) that the epidemic of workers checking their Facebook pages was the fastest growing problem facing work production for many office employees. An executive at a company decided to embrace his staff’s appetite to socialize over the net just to keep them happy and not disrupt their morale.

Since we know that 200 million people are using Facebook, and growing, there is a strong chance that you tenants are using it too. The question is how do you marry your property to their use?
Each property should have its own Facebook “Fan” page, not a “group” page. You have to push this new page on your residents. I would suggest taping notices on their doors, around the mailboxes, and in laundry facilities reminding the residents to become a fan of their apartment community’s page.

The content that should be posted on your Facebook page should be community notices, partnerships with vendors you make (such as pizza), and communitywide events (such as poker or bunko night). Tenants will want to join to keep up with the news. But you could also use the tool to incentivize and reward your residents. For example, everyone who pays their rent on the 1st of the month before 6:00 pm will receive a free ___________(fill in the blank.) Something of low value like a slurpee from
7-Eleven. Let 7-Eleven pay for the cost of goods sold, you are bringing in customers to them. Or maybe a higher ticket item? See who is in your area that you can partner with.

What makes Facebook so impactful is that whatever you write on your “wall,” all of your friends (in this case your residents) will see it. In short time people are signing up to be your friend and you theirs. The cascade of information to read on each other’s wall grows exponentially because everyone is writing in, commenting, taking surveys, and socializing! This socialization is incredibly important for an apartment community. If a resident feels part of a community because of the relationships they have developed over time, then they are more likely to renew their leases.

A key component to getting your network off the ground is to find a person that Li and Bernoff, author of “Groundswell,” call Creators. In social networking there are several types of participants. Think of a creator as someone who is a social butterfly and knows everything going on in the office. This person is very influential. Find them at your complex and let them participate and spread the word for you. Not everyone is a Creator. There are several different types of observers who may or may not write, post, or blog, but they sure are listening to your message.

Your property manager is best suited to take on this task. It is that person who is rooted in the property and has the best vantage point of what to write on the wall and what to comment on from others’ wall postings. 

Focusing on the relationship with the residents and becoming a part of their lives is unique and can pay large dividends. They will want to refer a friend of theirs to fill your vacancy if they are comfortable with you. Of course you will let them know you have a vacancy to fill on your Facebook page! Utilizing Facebook is a great tool that you could be using right now and costs you nothing but upside.

(Scott Yahraus is the president of Apartment Energy Consultants. Apartment Energy Consultants is the governing body that certifies multifamily properties as being “National Green Apartment Certified.” Viisit the web site at http://www.GreenRetrofitter.com , 818-854-6850, or email Scott directly at Scott@GreenRetrofitter.com)