Influencer marketing has been gaining attention in recent years due to the rapid rise of social media. While fusing the real estate industry with this type of marketing seems odd to some, adding influencers to your marketing strategies has its own one-of-a-kind perks and enables companies and property managers to extend their reach in niche areas.
“An influencer is a peer-to-peer marketing source that can act as a resident referral program at scale in our industry,” Sydney Webber, customer marketing manager at Knock, told Multi-Housing News.
While most residents have a small network of friends and acquaintances that may be interested in moving, an influencer has a captive audience of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of followers that can potentially be exposed to your community and generate high-quality leads.
“While their audience may not be as targeted as advertising with traditional ILSs or bidding on keywords, their followers are used to looking to their guidance when making buying decisions and convert at higher rates,” Webber noted.
Working with them means marketing on a smaller scale—micro-influencers usually have 1,000+ followers, with the sweet spot seeming to be somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 followers to make a difference, Jennifer Staciokas, executive managing director of property management at Western Wealth Communities, told MHN.
Despite this smaller number of followers, micro-influencers tend to have highly engaged audiences. In the real estate niche, they act as experts with a targeted audience.
According to Webber, “over the past year multifamily has had to navigate a massive shift to digital-first engagement.” For example, today’s renters are spending more time vetting properties online before actually submitting a lead or touring a community.
“Authentic content created by influencers makes a property stand out among its branded glossy competitors,” Webber noted. “Even if an influencer is not the first touch, there will be a point where prospects come into contact with their content—this social proof gives properties a competitive advantage.”
So, how can property managers and real estate brands use micro-influencers to retain residents and reach out to prospects?
According to Webber, the most effective and low-risk use in multifamily marketing is to identify the ones who may already be living in your buildings. By incentivizing them to share their experiences and create content centered around your community, you get a steady flow of renter-generated content to repurpose for your marketing efforts, and your brand and community are blasted to their network.
Another way would be through the use of Instagram takeovers. This involves micro-influencers creating original content for the company’s Instagram page and posting it themselves in real-time, adding a highly personal touch to the experience. By connecting with the brand, this content generates new followers, engagement and, ultimately, new renters.
Staciokas, for example, used micro-influencers at a luxury building in Orange County, Calif., to help lease the penthouse units. Western Wealth Communities selected three different micro-influencers and invited them to spend a weekend in one of its penthouses and document what ‘a day in the life’ at the property would entail via social media (Instagram, Facebook and blogging). This building had a rich amenity package which lent itself well to fitness, cooking and lifestyle influencers to attract a varied clientele.
While the use micro-influencers requires a little more work, allowing them to take the time to perform is critical to ensure long-term success. These partners will become an integral part of your company and community.
When Webber first tested this concept in 2019, she wasn’t able to find any case studies or data in multifamily but saw how integral it was to marketing strategies in other industries. She predicts there will be a wave of risk-takers and early adopters that will test this tactic and the trend will only expand if the rest of the industry can see the proof that it does in fact work.