Holiday social media campaigns are—or should be—part of a comprehensive, well-thought-out marketing strategy planned well in advance.
“It’s not knee-jerk, where you figure you’ll just post something,” said Chintimini Keith, senior vice president, corporate communications, Bozzuto. “Social media is so easy to use that it’s taken for granted. But you actually need a strategy.”
Savvy apartment owners and managers understand this, and many prepare a social media calendar at the beginning of each year. “The calendar serves two purposes—events and posting on social media,” said Tammy Casserly, senior vice president of growth and brand development for Resident360, a multifamily branding and marketing agency. “The budgets are established at the beginning of the year, but property managers have the opportunity, if there’s money left over, to plan additional events for the holidays.”
The Importance of Holiday Social Media Campaigns
Michael Zaransky, managing principal of MZ Capital Partners in Northbrook, Ill., has several social media campaigns planned this holiday season to promote community events as well as charitable endeavors.
“Holiday social media campaigns are a community relations tool,” he said. “It’s not really something that gets us new prospects or new leases, but it’s a feel-good opportunity. Bringing residents together at community events creates a sense of community and friendship so residents feel a connection. It creates a better stickiness when it comes to renewal time.”
Indeed, happy residents are more likely to renew their leases, reducing the cost of turnover.
Another benefit of holiday social media: better SEO. “Millennials and Gen Zers don’t go to your website—they find you through your social media accounts,” Casserly said. By having a strong social media presence through holiday campaigns, you can improve your SEO and get more eyeballs on your social media accounts.
Choosing the Right Platform
For a successful holiday social media campaign, first determine who you’re marketing to and then target them where they are with the types of events likely to attract their demographic group.
It’s no surprise that demographic groups have varied social media preferences. According to Hootsuite, a social media management platform, the following statistics are key to targeting your campaigns successfully:
- Forty-one percent of all Facebook users are ages 45 and older, while just 31 percent are ages 25 to 34
- More than half of Instagram users are under the age of 35
- Two percent of Twitter users are ages 25 to 49
- Seventy-seven percent of internet users in the U.S. ages 15 to 25 use YouTube
- In the U.S., 22 percent of TikTok users are ages 20 to 29. Only 4 percent of Americans 65 and older use TikTok
So, if you’re planning a holiday social media campaign geared toward empty-nesters, Facebook would be a good choice. For student housing promotions, consider YouTube and TikTok.
Pet Campaigns Outperform
Pets and other animals are the best way to engage renters through social media, apartment marketers say.
“Pets are the blockbuster winner overall,” said Casserly. “Every time pets are involved in any campaign or contest, they are by far the winner every time.”
Franklin, Tenn.-based Bristol Development Group likes to promote local zoo-related events to its residents. “We’ll set up a way where people can get discounted tickets, or arrange a group trip, so our residents can have an experience that’s tied both to us and to something fun,” said Lisa Gunderson, Bristol’s vice president of asset management. “Animals speak to everybody’s heart, and it’s not denominational. It makes strategic sense for us.”
This year, the company will offer discounted tickets for ZOOLights, a holiday light experience at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, to its residents at The Station at Fleming Island nearby. While residents will be notified by email through the resident portal, more engagement is driven through the firm’s posts on Facebook and Instagram, Gunderson said.
Read also: Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Resident Events
Food and Drink Events
Salt Lake City-based Cottonwood Residential, which has a portfolio of 38 apartment communities, has found success promoting food and drink events through social media. The events are highly targeted to appeal to the demographic residing in those communities, said Nofel Molai, the firm’s director of marketing.
In family-oriented communities, Molai said the event might be a holiday movie by the pool, with free popcorn and candy. In communities with older residents, they might have a professional chef do a cooking demonstration with tastings.
The company held a live cooking demonstration last year at Sugarmont Apartments, its 351-unit community in Salt Lake City. Even though it was held on a weekday, the event, promoted by an email blast, texts and posts on Facebook and Instagram, drew about 80 residents.
Bozzuto also uses food and drink events at the communities it manages. Winter cocktail or mocktail parties are popular and are often combined with toy drives, Keith said.
Host Holiday Contests
Contests are wildly popular with apartment residents throughout the year, including the holiday season. Many contests can be entered remotely, by liking pictures posted on Facebook or Instagram, so that encourages residents to participate who might not attend an event in person.
Casserly said that holiday decorating contests (balcony, door or in-apartment decorating) are fun and that residents can be encouraged to participate by offering gift cards as prizes.
Bristol Development holds a cookie decorating contest each year at its communities. The company provides Ugly Sweater Cookie Kits from Trader Joe’s to residents and invites them to decorate the cookies and enter them into the contest. “They send in pictures, and we pick a winner,” Gunderson said. “These types of interactive contests seem to drive the most participation within our communities.” The event is promoted by email, Facebook and Instagram.
No matter what your holiday social media campaign, don’t forget the basics. Promote the events via the channel most likely to reach your targeted audience, and encourage residents to like and follow your pages and to post photos with appropriate hashtags.
“It’s a major missed opportunity if you don’t bring your community together around some kind of event and use it to create a sense of community,” Zaransky said. “People sometimes make the mistake of focusing only on new prospects and new leases, but this is equally, if not more, important. Retention is the best way to keep the property full.”