Academic institutions announced plans to bring students back for on-campus learning this year, further bolstering demand for both on- and off-campus housing. The average college student is aged between 18 and 23 years—and part of the Gen Z cohort, the only true digital native generation.
According to a survey of more than 10,000 Gen Z renters conducted by RentCafé, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok are the top social media channels most often used by this age group. “Gen Z wants short video content,” said Esther Bonardi, vice president of marketing and REACH at Yardi. “Some 40 percent of these renters like videos that span over 15 seconds or less, while 30 percent will watch up to a minute… but no more.”
READ ALSO: What Does Gen Z Want in Housing?
What’s more, Gen Zers values integrity and transparency—they want a personal connection with content, such as seeing friends and familiar places tagged. Brynna Nugent, marketing strategist, social media & reputation management at BH Management Services, believes the goal is to show an authentic glimpse into community life, with property operators acting as a trusted resource to the community with guided content.
With that in mind, we put together a list of marketing tactics catered directly to the student renters you are looking to attract to your community.
Choosing the right platform
Not all social platforms are created equal. Before you get started with marketing a community, it’s important to know the demographic and their preferred social platforms, according to Nugent. Facebook is not widely used by Gen Z, while TikTok and Snapchat content is time-consuming to produce and doesn’t connect with followers geographically.
The big winner is Instagram: It’s easy to use, highly customizable and provides heavy engagement. Plus, the Reels feature makes it easy to reach followers through geographic ties, Nugent said.
Tools of the trade
Property managers have a wide array of social media tools to choose from. Whether it’s quizzes, polls, swipe bars, question boxes or guides, they can easily create a solid bridge between content and prospective renters.
BH Management Services made the best of Instagram Guides while marketing The Commons at Knoxville and Northpoint Crossing at College Station, Texas. The company also used Instagram Reels to highlight its Olive & Wooster community in New Haven, Conn.
Content creation, community fusion
Whether you choose to showcase certain amenities or make an official announcement, there are multiple ways to do it in a unique manner. Be sure to vary the content between words, imagery and calls-to-action, and don’t forget to use photos of people, as this is what users want to see most. For example, BH Management Services ramped up the number of people in the photos they posted while marketing The Commons at Knoxville.
While creating new content can get exhausting, property managers can always ask permission and reshare photos from people that are relevant. This helps save time and energy from constantly having to come up with something new for every post.
Nugent believes it’s important to create content that will engage current residents and prolong the resident-community interaction. Examples include:
- highlight floorplans/amenities
- answer resident FAQs
- post move-in checklists
- highlight notable dates
- share community events and updates
“Make sure you give the young social audience something they want to see while ensuring that they also walk away feeling more aware of or connected to your community,” Bonardi added.
Posting resident testimonials from current residents is a proven success story. While marketing The Commons at Knoxville, BH Management Services created Instagram takeovers, where new residents answered questions about move-ins, living on the property, or just day-to-day life at The Commons. Northpoint Crossing’s Instagram page is filled with examples that show how fun and exciting it is to live there.
Make sure images are well laid out and follow some basic compositional principles to create aesthetically pleasing images, Nugent recommended—all the while following the brand guidelines for your community.
Another great idea to help you attract student renters is to include walkthrough videos or virtual tours of your community, allowing prospects a first-person view of what the property has to offer.