We believe that every apartment community can control their demand by controlling vacancy. Communities that do this successfully can free themselves from the cycle of panic that comes a couple times each year with each spike in vacancy. If you’re reading this post, you hopefully have seen how Google Ads can help your community create demand—even during slow leasing seasons.
But, what if you’ve maxed out what you’re able to do on Google Ads? For example, maybe you just went through a rebrand and are needing to build up your brand awareness. Therefore, people aren’t searching for you directly in Google quite yet. This is also particularly common with communities going through a lease-up. They oftentimes have an unusually high number of units to fill with an equally high budget to spend, but Google just isn’t casting a wide enough net.
Our solution for these communities is almost always going to be using Facebook Ads to supplement traffic.
The Theory Behind Advertising on Facebook
Facebook is an odd traffic source for apartment communities for reasons we have discussed in the past. That said, while Facebook is not a reliable channel for free organic leads, it can be a great platform for communities looking to explore digital advertising options beyond Google.
Why is that?
There are a few reasons.
Facebook’s User Base
First, Facebook obviously has an enormous user base and a fairly well-developed advertising platform relative to other social networks. It’s also likely that your prospective residents have a Facebook account and visit it daily.
The Visibility of Facebook Ads
Second, display ads are more likely to actually be noticed and retained by Facebook users. As you’ve probably noticed, most display ads are large banners that are placed at the top of the page or are interspersed throughout a site. As a little exercise, think back to the last webpage you were viewing. Do you remember which ad was showcased on the site? Oftentimes, the answer is no because they are so familiar to us. Most of us don’t even notice these ads, let alone click on them.
In contrast, Facebook ads show up in a context that we pay closer attention to—our social media news feeds. Above the ad you might find a photo of your best friend’s family, and below the ad is an interesting article that your co-worker shared. Because of this context, Facebook ads generally attract far greater engagement than most other display advertisements.
Lastly, because Facebook ads have such a prominent visual component, they can be a great venue for showcasing photos of your community. If you have professional-quality visual content, it will shine on Facebook.
Branding and Facebook
Advertising on Facebook can help you build a stronger brand with prospective residents. The invisible factor that influences many leasing decisions for prospects is trust. An apartment lease is a large expense that has an enormous impact on a person’s quality of life for the duration of the lease.
For this reason, communities that are well-managed and considerate will have a natural appeal to prospective residents. By developing a professional marketing presence online that communicates competence and attention to detail, you are not only doing high-quality marketing, but you are also showing prospects that you will be an attentive and considerate landlord.
How does advertising on Facebook work?
Though many communities have struggled in the past with Facebook, setting up an account is relatively straightforward. Below is a link to Facebook’s “Blueprint.” It’s their online training, resource, and certification center.
Is there any risk with Facebook advertising?
There are two primary issues that you are likely to run into with Facebook advertising.
First, you’ll need to be careful with how you’re setting up your Facebook ads, because they will need to abide by Fair Housing Laws. This also means that your ads will be targeted at a broader audience. With a wide range of viewers, you’ll likely notice your conversion rate drop. This isn’t necessarily negative, because you’ll be reaching far more people. However, you will see a smaller proportion of them converting into leads than Google Ads.
Second, it is harder to track Facebook ad traffic across your website and throughout the entire leasing process. Most of your ads will be created with the intention of getting people to your website rather than calling or emailing the property. This makes it harder to track, but be sure to set up retargeting ads so you capitalize on those website visits!
These can be significant problems, particularly if you are going to commit a large amount of money toward Facebook. That said, if you are using Facebook in selective ways to supplement your traffic for short windows of time when you have unusually high traffic needs, then these risks should not be a problem.
The big idea with Facebook is that it is a great supplemental marketing tool and a wonderful option for brand awareness and website traffic generation. Unfortunately, if you are expecting it to be your primary marketing platform, you are going to be disappointed. But, if you understand Facebook’s strengths and weaknesses, you can develop a strategy that maximizes what you gain from Facebook’s strengths and minimizes your risks due to Facebook’s weaknesses. When used in conjunction with a broader marketing strategy built around using exceptional visual content to engage leads and a proven SEO and PPC strategy to generate traffic, Facebook can be a great asset to most apartment communities.