These days, it feels like Facebook is pay-to-play. Unless you boost your posts or buy ads, it’s tough to get seen. But don’t be disheartened. Below, we’ll go over five creative ways to promote your rental properties on Facebook for free.
For most of the Facebook marketing strategies below, you’ll use your personal account (it’s free to set one up!).
1: List your apartments on Facebook Marketplace from your personal profile
When Facebook opened up Marketplace to rental listings in 2017, it became a hotspot for prospective renters. Sick of filtering through spammy Craigslist ads and jumping through hoops on Zillow, Facebook users finally have a centralized place to search listings, vet potential landlords, and chat in-app via Messenger. An added bonus for property managers: You too can see a little bit more about the prospective renter on their Facebook profile.
You can list your available units on Marketplace from your property’s Facebook Page or from your personal profile; we recommend posting from your personal profile because it’s nice for prospects to be able to put a face to the listing.
What are the advantages of posting apartment listings to Facebook Marketplace?
- It’s where the people are. In Q1 of 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced during an earnings call that Marketplace had reached a whopping one billion monthly users. With volume like that, you’re almost guaranteed to generate a ton of leads by listing your apartments there.
- It’s free. Unlike sites like Zillow, there is no fee to post more than one rental on Facebook Marketplace.
- It gives prospective renters a more personable experience. Facebook users are able to see your profile photo and view your personal account. When Apartment Guide surveyed renters on what they wished they’d known before signing a lease, “knew more about property management” was the fourth most popular vote, selected by 27% of respondents. Renters want to know more about who they’re renting from, and by using Facebook, you can give them peace of mind since they can see your profile.
- Communication is streamlined thanks to Messenger. Messenger makes communication easy as users never have to leave the app or fill out endless form fields to get more information about your listing.
How can you make your apartment listing stand out from the rest on Facebook Marketplace? Upload the floor plans. Digital floor plans and virtual tours are becoming increasingly important to renters. In 2021, 71% said they’re more likely to tour a place if the listing shows a floor plan they like, according to a Zillow report.
2: Post available units to third-party Facebook Groups
According to Facebook data from October 2020, more than 1.8 billion people use Groups each month, making it a goldmine for potential renters. Third-party Facebook Groups are resources created by individuals, or sometimes other businesses or organizations, to spark discussion and create community around a specific topic. Groups are helpful for multifamily operators because they pool together people who are in the market for what you have to offer: apartment rentals.
Step 1: Join Facebook Groups created by third parties that are for local areas/neighborhoods/cities and for housing rentals in those areas.
These could be Facebook Groups for residents of a specific city or neighborhood (e.g., “Downtown Cincinnati neighbors”), for people considering a move to a city (e.g., “Moving to Cincinnati”), or people searching for apartments in that area (e.g., “Cincinnati – Apartments & Rentals”). All Facebook groups of this type are going to contain your target audience, so hang out where they hang out online!
Step 2: Set up monitoring with keyword alerts
The next step to marketing your apartment complex for free in Facebook Groups is to monitor the groups for posts from your target audience. Now, you don’t have to sit at your computer clicking refresh on Facebook all day to accomplish this.
Instead, consider using software like Groouply, which lets you set up alerts that notify you when specific keywords are mentioned in posts, comments, and links. This is a must-have because you’ll know instantly when someone, for example, posts that they’re looking for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. Then, you can be one of the first to comment and let them know you have availability. This adds a personalized touch to your multifamily marketing approach. And yes–Groouply works in both public and private groups.
Step 3: Respond to Facebook posts looking for housing
Now that you’ve got your handy-dandy monitoring software set up, you can sit back and wait for the notifications to roll in. When someone posts looking for housing, reply from your personal Facebook profile (it looks less spammy) with brief details about your available apartment rentals. Encourage them to message you for more information.
Here’s a real-life example from a Seattle apartments group. Someone posted looking for a one-bedroom or studio apartment in the city and got a few replies. The one highlighted below is actually from a local leasing manager who posts hundreds of apartment units to Facebook Marketplace, responds to posts looking for rentals, and posts her available units to various local groups, which we’ll look at in more detail below.
Step 4: Post apartment availability to Facebook Groups
Before you post about your apartment rental availability, be sure to check the Group’s rules. Some Groups allow self-promotion only on certain days. You want to make sure you don’t inadvertently violate any of the rules and risk getting kicked out.
Once you’ve ensured that it’s within the rules, regularly post apartment availability. Create one post per available apartment unit, rather than one post with a group of units (that gets confusing for prospective tenants who want to inquire about a specific apartment). Again, post and respond to comments from your personal profile, not your business Facebook Page.
Earlier, we looked at a response from a local leasing manager about an apartment. Below is one of her posts to a Seattle housing rentals Group advertising an available unit:
As you can see, she got a healthy response from various interested people:
The advantage to posting individual listings to Facebook Groups is that it looks much more approachable, much more like it’s coming from a private landlord, which potential tenants often favor. Now, of course, you should never lie and say that you’re a private landlord. Be upfront with them once they inquire that you work for the multifamily property. Many even choose to state upfront in the description the name of the apartment complex.
3. Start your own Facebook Group
Don’t limit yourself to groups created by others; why not create your own so you have more control?
Instead of creating a Facebook Group for your current residents or for your apartment complex, add value and build trust by creating a group centered around the following:
- General housing rentals in your city
- Tips for moving to your city
- Tips for living in your city
By broadening the topic, you not only attract a bigger pool of potential residents, but you also ensure your Facebook group doesn’t look like a spammy self-promotion tool.
Let’s revisit a real-life example from earlier, the “Moving to Cincinnati” Group. Look at the description, and you’ll see that the admins of the group are realtors who get business from the members (hence why they request that competitors not join the group).
When posting to your Facebook group, think of the 80/20 rule: Post 80% helpful content not directly related to your apartment complex and 20% self-promotional content.
4. Host Facebook Events for Residents & Prospects
Whether in-person or online, Facebook Events gather people together and are a great way to build your apartment community’s reputation as well as allow residents to socialize. Rather than creating an event to directly promote your multifamily property, think of it as being a sponsor to an event—you’re still getting your name out there, but the event isn’t about you. Again, this is about getting leads into your funnel and building trust in the hopes that, when it comes time to apartment hunt, these prospects will think of your company first.
Here are a few ideas for your Facebook Events:
- Pool party: If your property has a pool, what a great way to show off the amenity! Get creative like The Olivia in NYC, which hosted a dog-themed pool party that allowed residents to bring their furry friends too. This is the perfect event to attract prospects who are looking for dog-friendly communities.
- Fitness classes: Here’s another way to display one of the many perks of living in your community. Invite a fitness instructor (or one of your residents!) to lead a class in pilates, dance, or another fitness activity and open it up to the public.
- Holiday-themed parties: Got a clubhouse? Invite people over for a holiday-themed event, such as cookie decorating on Valentine’s Day.
At each of these events, have a table set up with brochures, floor plans on display, and a leasing agent ready to answer any questions the guests may have about your apartment community.
5. Revamp your Apartment Community’s Facebook Page
When it comes to Facebook Pages for businesses, engagement is at an all-time low thanks to an algorithm update in 2018 that prioritizes posts from friends and family. As a result, posts from Facebook Pages often get pushed down or not shown at all in people’s feeds.
But, that doesn’t mean having a Facebook Page isn’t important for your property. Instead, change the expectations of what it’s supposed to be. While you may not get many likes or comments on your posts to this page, prospective renters do still check it out for three main reasons:
They want to see what it’s like to live at your complex
One of the first things a prospective tenant is likely to do after Googling your apartment complex is check your social media accounts, including Facebook. Why? Beyond the polished copy and professional photography of your business website, they want to see what real life is like in your community. That’s why cell phone photos and user-generated content are so crucial to your apartment marketing strategy. Think of your Facebook Page as a more approachable, true-to-life depiction of your apartment community.
They want to read apartment reviews
The Reviews feature of the Facebook Page often makes businesses nervous. After all, what if someone leaves a negative review?
But that’s a risk you take for reaping a big reward. According to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2022, nearly half of people trust consumer reviews just as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family.
And in the extreme case that someone leaves a negative review that really leaves your business hurting, you can always disable the Reviews section, thus hiding all reviews, including the bad one. So leave that as a last resort and a way to calm your nerves about reviews.
They want to get in touch with you via Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger is quickly gaining ground as a favorite communication app. There are a couple of ways you can promote your apartments using Facebook Messenger.
- Make sure Messenger is on for your Page. Messenger isn’t automatically available on your Page—you have to turn it on. Here’s how: Go to the Manage Page menu on the left side and click on Messenger tools. Then click “Set up now” and “Add button” to enable the full features.
- Build a chatbot. Don’t be daunted; you can build a chatbot in minutes without knowing how to code thanks to software like Chatfuel and ManyChat (and yes, both have free options!). By doing this, you unlock the true potential of Messenger and AI: Your bot is available 24/7, funneling in leads with answers to common questions so that you can pick up and nurture that relationship.
Conclusion: You Can Still Promote Apartments on Facebook Without Paying
While yes, Facebook ads are a powerful tool in the arsenal of any apartment marketer, they’re not the only way to promote your properties. Using the full features of Facebook Marketplace, Groups, Pages, and Events, you can make the most of Facebook for your multifamily business —without paying a dime.
That said – why not do it all? If you’re looking to generate leads from Facebook, we know exactly how to help. Chat with us about it by clicking the button below.