Survey: Little Value in Social Media for Apartments

I was checking out NREI Online the other day.  There was an interesting article about a recent survey indicating that tenants spend very little time visiting an apartment community's social networking website.  The survey is national in scope and is being conducted by J Turner Research, a multi-family research firm.  Here's what I found interesting about the survey results:

  • Over 90% of conventional tenants (persons not residing in student housing) responding to the survey have not visited their apartment community's social networking site.
  • The contrast between conventional tenants and student-housing tenants: only 7% of conventional tenants have visited the apartment's social media website vs. 40% for students.  I wonder if/when that discrepancy will impact the "conventional tenant" demographic.
  • Of the 7% of conventional tenants who visit the social media site, 62% are checking to see what other's are saying about the apartment, 57% are conducting preliminary research and 37% are looking for discounts/deals.  (Obviously, these percentages add up to more than 100%.  I assume that the responding tenants were allowed to check more than one box on certain survey questions.)
  • Only 11% of responding tenants visited the apartment's social media website to schedule an onsite visit and only 8% tried to initiate the leasing process through that site.

As noted in the article, it is clear that social media is not driving leasing activity at this point.  My questions: is that such a bad thing?  Is that the purpose of an apartment's social media site?  Should it be?  I'm all for leveraging technology, especially online leasing, but can't that be done on a different online platform?  Shouldn't the apartment community's social media website be for building relationships w/ tenants and prospective tenants?  If the answer to the last question is yes, then the next question becomes: what can be done to add value to the social media website in order to get more "eyes" on it?

I'd love to hear from any apartment managers out there.  Are you using social media and, if so, how has it been going?

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