Attendees at the Multifamily Social Media Summit in Napa Valley gathered last week to discuss the evolving marketing landscape, and a few recurring questions outlined the discussions:

First of all, how should we be approaching social media? Secondly, how do we extend our brand across digital platforms? And finally, what’s the role of advertising within an effective content strategy?

Big names like Jay Baer and Greg Verdino delivered a multifamily outsider’s perspective and laid the foundation for best practices and the power of social customer service. Notably, Cardinal Group’s Michael Huereque demonstrated how he uses social media analytics to optimize property-level marketing strategies.

However, the overarching message at this conference brought us back to the basics:

(1) Be a resource for your audience.

(2) Inspire your customers to tell your story.

(3) Leverage content in creative ways to catch people delightfully off-guard.

Welcome to the Age of Content Marketing

Certainly, today’s content marketing teams are giving a nod to the traditional newsroom. Head to any major corporate website — Whole Foods, Capital One, CBRE — and you’ll find evidence of a robust editorial team at work on the blog.

Conference-goers heard from Zillow’s Director of Content Stephanie Reid-Simons, who offered a glimpse into the fresh-faced company that’s changing the way we engage with real estate. Working alongside Zillow’s PR and social media teams, Reid-Simons leads a 12-person editorial team. Further, the team is dedicated to developing Zillow’s voice and establishing the company as a resource within its space.

“At Zillow, we’re telling stories about real estate,” said Reid-Simons. “We’re covering everything from celebrity home transactions to market data. Even as we grow, we’re not losing that startup mentality — that scrappy, journalistic angle.”

Head over to Zillow’s blog, and you’ll see the fruits of a busy content marketing team. Likewise, scan Zillow’s social media platforms, and you’ll see that the blog fuels much of the company’s social media content.

For those of us who don’t have access to a corporate team of writers, Reid-Simons shared Zillow’s strategy of COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. Create a great piece of content, she said, then adapt it across platforms.

For example, a single blog post can be shared on Twitter with a snappy headline, extended to Instagram with an engaging image, and adapted to a shareable infographic.

Greg Verdino provided several examples of companies that are doing this well, including Lowe’s stop-motion Vine series of home improvement hacks. While social networks continue to grow more visual, marketers will have the opportunity to be wildly creative in their cross-platform applications.

Application for Multifamily: Justifying the Value

If you’re approaching your content marketing strategy correctly, you have the power to tie your efforts directly to ROI — both qualitative (brand-focused) and quantitative (business-focused).

Let’s take Zillow, for example. Their content strategy achieves highly targeted brand goals (i.e., establishing Zillow as a storyteller within real estate) and business goals (i.e., driving traffic to their website to increase conversions). It should work the same way for your multifamily property:

  • What brand goals are you trying to achieve?
  • What business goals are you trying to achieve?

No matter your business, your actions on social media should be driven by the questions above. Only then can you develop a roadmap — one with a purpose and measurable objectives.

The Power of a Human Touch

If there’s one takeaway from the Multifamily Social Media Summit, it was the power of the human touch. From “hugging your haters” to resident storytelling, Tamela Coval put it best:

Social Media engaging is no longer posting informative messages 3 times daily. To truly be social we’ll have to pump some neurons and deeply think about the main gift humans share … communication.

Today’s social media platforms provide us with incredible opportunities for connection and creativity. Certainly, you don’t want to miss the opportunity.