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Have you noticed lately that your property management company has evolved into a “people management company?”

There’s no doubt that without tenants (past, present and future), there would be no need to manage properties at all. You could easily pay the utility bills, hire someone to cut the grass and be home on the sofa relaxing before noon each day.

If you’re going to be successful in this competitive business, you’ll need to stand out. The best way to do that is by engaging with your tenants. And the best way to do that is with social media.

While you might actively post on your personal Facebook page every time you discover another cute puppy picture or you might still struggle to master that #hashtag nonsense on Twitter, but it’s time to get serious about social networking. Your present and potential clients use it as a trusted source for everything. It’s where they go for news, entertainment, communication and advice.

There are so many popular platforms being used by renters today, so you might be overwhelmed in trying to decide the best places to connect. Let’s look at what the experts say. eBizMBA has ranked all active networking sites by unique monthly visitors and Facebook still sits on top of the list with over 1,100,000,000 – yes, that’s over a “billion” visitors a month. With such a staggering number of potential tenants accessing the site, you don’t want to miss out. Analytics further show that the next four wildly trendy social networking sites are: Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ with monthly visitation in the hundreds of thousands.

If the mere volume of traffic isn’t enough to motivate you to join the conversation, take a look at the top 5 ways to use social media in your property management company:

1. Advertising

By promoting your property inventory on social media, you’ll be able to reach a greater number of potential renters than any other advertising method. Setting up a Facebook fan page for all your listings or an individual page dedicated to each property will allow you add specific details, photos, and videos and reach a wider audience. A single “like” on your page will expose your properties to hundreds or thousands of potential tenants through their circle of friends.

Marketing strategies using Pinterest can also be successful especially when incorporating neighborhood and city information. Location, location, location – what property manager doesn’t know that’s almost as important as the price? Promote local restaurants and attractions, include photos of area activities, add video testimonials and property tours, and highlight special features such as pet-friendly or close to public transportation. Add a call to action to increase engagement, such as “visit our website” or “lease today.” Keep pins to 200 characters with photo links for the best chance at achieving the most repins.

While online and print directories should still be considered, you can reduce your advertising costs by posting vacancies on social media. Facebook and Twitter ads are highly effective because they’re personal and relevant. Results are easy to measure on desktop and mobile applications and best of all, they’re free. Both Facebook and Twitter have boost/promotion advertising that can also increase your exposure for a minimal monthly charge.

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2. Networking/Relationship Building

As the community name suggests, participating in social networking via any platform will provide enhanced relationship building opportunities. Keeping in touch with your residents and employees through a Facebook or Twitter app, Pinterest pinboard, LinkedIn post or Google+ announcement will allow you to interact safely, efficiently and productively.

It’s a great way to introduce your management team to residents, feature on-site events, updates on activities or upcoming work in the area. You’ll want to encourage people to follow you. Consider a giveaway or small incentive for “follows” – offer a rental discount off the first month or a month of free parking. Incentives for submitting a rental application online or providing a referral will generate activity and keep conversations going.

LinkedIn Groups can also be a valuable resource for connecting to real estate agents and other landlords. This professional social media platform will provide access to the latest real estate trends and strategies. Participation in forums is also an excellent resource for sharing information and receiving advice from more experienced landlords.

The Circles feature in Google+ takes networking to a new level. It allows you to categorize followers into groups such as prospective tenants, current residents or even competing landlords. You can use it to filter Gmail so you can target a specific demographic for advertising, activities, incentives, and promotions. Google+ also allows for direct communication with followers to further enhance the relationships. Previous and current tenants can take advantage of the reviewing system by rating their experience in your property. Google searches will pull up these reviews to help you receive more inquiries.

3. Market Trends

While you may think you know what renters are looking for in an apartment, condo or home, but following social media posts will help you be sure. You can take the time to read what people are saying, come right out and ask what people need or be a little more stealthy and head to Twitter to check the hashtag search. For example, a search of #apartmenttrends will tell you that prospects are looking for apartments with new technology features that enable residents to control things like temperature, security systems and doors locks from their smartphones.

It may go without saying, but with everyone “connected” to everything via cell phones and the internet, your properties must have access to high-speed internet and reliable cell phone service. Tailor your remodeling projects to incorporate the latest innovations, and your vacancies will be filled in no time.

4. Generate More Leads

According to a national survey by Apartments.com, 71% of their users are active on social media. And while many still consult traditional resources for finding a place to live, their search almost always begins online. Social networking websites are used to find community information and recommendations, photos and videos of available apartments, search listings, special incentives, and offers, and sharing apartment information with friends for feedback. By positioning your listings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Craigslist, you’ll have a greater opportunity to capture their attention.

Twitter has a great tool for identifying potential renters. Millennials commonly tweet when they’re searching for a new home or apartment. Simply use the @ message to provide property information for new and upcoming vacancies in their area. Twitter launched “Flight School” training in 2014 to help companies drive sales and engage prospects. This program for property managers will give you access to research tools, informative tutorials, and other resources.

Incorporate your Pinterest accounts with Facebook to generate more leads. Announce contests and discount promotions on your feeds to drive traffic to your sites. Once you make a connection, using LinkedIn search capabilities to confirm a tenant’s employment history may help in prequalifying them. It’s important to always maintain professional etiquette when vetting potential tenants via social media. You’ll want to disclose your identity when securing private details for applicants.

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5. Partners and Financing Opportunities

Running a successful property management business takes a lot of time, expertise and funding. Social networking is an excellent resource for finding potential partners and financing opportunities. Forbes estimates that 90% of all high, net-worth individuals are active on social media, and more than five million of those individuals are using it to make financial decisions. Meet new entrepreneurs, establish relationships and use it as a platform for building trust.

Using social media in your property management company will give you new opportunities to improve communication, find more leads, reduce advertising costs, follow market trends and search out financing opportunities. It’s critical that you stay current on all your sites, but that can take a lot of time. Social media management tools like Hootsuite can help link all your platforms. Create one post, push to all newsfeed streams. You can even schedule posts to run at a future date. It’s time to join the social media age, and get ready to see your business grow.