Trending strategy has become a cost-effective way for properties to add a local connection and attract residents.
Influencer marketing is drawing a lot of attention from apartment marketers as a new way to attract the kind of prospects they are going after.
It’s become a trendy, affordable tactic that costs little more than a few months’ rent.
Panelists Brandon Howard, Founder at ResEssential; Sydney Webber, Customer Marketing Manager at Knock; and Alivia Fields, Social Influencer & Photographer, discussed how to make it work during the session, “Is Influencer Marketing Relevant to Multifamily Rentals and Leasing?” at the Apartment Innovation and Marketing Conference on Monday in Huntington Beach, Calif.
The business of “influencers” is huge for a lot of products and services, their social media channels and e-commerce. It can work for apartment marketing as well. In 2019, Templeton Property Management in Portland, Ore., experimented by giving a local influencer (Fields) nine months’ free rent if she would promote the property.
“When I first presented this idea to my boss, I got the biggest eye-roll of all time,” Knock’s Customer Marketing Manager Sydney Webber, who was a marketing specialist at the community at the time, said.
Fields loved the place and signed a deal to provide 30 images and one video per month for Templeton and share them with her followers.
“These were all media content we could use in many ways, such as on our own social media channels and website,” Webber said. “And given that her photography has a really good look that fit the kind of tone we were going for, it meant it matched our image-branding well.
That ‘Cool Factor’
Webber said that, in essence, through her influencer’s posts, “YouTube data showed us that 260,000 people toured our community and our leasing team didn’t have to lift a finger. It was a huge win. Not only did it give our community that ‘cool factor,’ but it exposed hundreds of thousands of people to our community and drove quality leads. Our bounce rates were cut in half when people engaged in our influencer’s content.
Fields’ videos are here. One is a simple wake up, get coffee, head down the street for avocado toast and then return to her apartment to “work from home.” Others are tours of her apartment where she highlights the community and some of her apartment home furnishings, giving tips on how to best enjoy the renting lifestyle.
“Marketing performance when using Google or an Internet Listing Service (ILS) is something you are able to track. You can’t really track leads that were generated by social media influencers. But digging really deep, we were able to trace at least 14 leases that came directly through Alivia, and probably more.”
Finding the Ideal Influencer
Howard, who helps connect companies with local marketers, said a company must first make sure the influencer is aligned with the company’s brand, in the case of apartments, choose one who fits its renter demographic.
For example, if the community is located near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., finding someone with large sway in political circles will resonate better than a fitness guru or outdoors enthusiast, Howard said.
Influencers can be found by identifying key locations or events that are taking place around the property’s community and following the posts and hashtags that are related to them.
“We found Alivia by searching ‘apartments in Portland’ rather than searching for Alivia herself,” Webber said. “She was posting about apartment life in Portland and had a huge audience already.”
Once a leading influencer is identified, Fields said to scroll through their feed because chances are they are following other big-time influencers as well because most attend the same types of local events and go to the same places.
Then, follow a few of them for a while to see if they are the right fit, Webber said.
Howard said influencers love sporting events because they usually have the “wow” factor and draw a lot of interest.
Give the Influencer Their Freedom
Howard said to not try to script the influencer. “It’s important to trust the influencer,” he said. “Let them shape their messaging, they know their audience best.”
Fields said influencers need great locations to create their content “and apartment buildings tend to have fantastic amenity spaces such as common areas that are ideal for making exciting media.”