Many agree that social media has a beneficial role to play in business management. This includes rental businesses.
Regardless of their size or location, landlords have found social media to improve the marketing efforts and functioning of their businesses. However, landlords tend to disagree on how social media should be used.
Should you use social media exclusively for advertising properties? Or should it have a more expansive role in managing current tenants and maintaining reputations?
Some disagreement about social media is to be expected. In today’s digital climate, the rules change and expectations evolve. How can you keep up?
It’s always recommended to research the social networking platforms you’re on so you can be as informed as possible. However, there are some general best practices across all platforms.
Here are some suitable and unsuitable uses for social media in your rental business.
One of the strengths of social media is its ability to disseminate information across thousands of users in mere moments. This makes rental advertising on social media a highly lucrative endeavor.
Social media is also fundamentally visual. This means it’s a great place to post high-quality photographs of your units, links to virtual tours, or other multimodal content that is visually appealing to renters.
Some social networking sites are better suited to accommodate your listings than others. For instance, Facebook Marketplace is designed for buying and selling property and therefore most convenient for landlords looking to advertise their properties.
While you can certainly advertise on Twitter or Instagram, you won’t get the same level of infrastructure offered on Facebook Marketplace or other listing sites like Zillow. To achieve the widest reach, use social media in combination with the listing syndication services offered by your property management software.
Social media is also suited for building a reputation and a strong sense of community among your residents.
If you decided not to use Twitter or Instagram for advertising, try setting up accounts for community building. For example, you could use either platform to feature promotions, raffles, discounts, resident events, or open houses. Posting about resident events is an especially effective way to display positive engagement and attract new renters looking for friendly communities.
Since most of your tenants are probably on social media, you might wonder if they are useful platforms for tenant screening or prequalification. Some landlords use social media expansively during screening, as do some employers.
However, you should use caution when including social media in your screening procedures. Firstly, you can’t force renters to make their accounts public. If a renter’s account is private, you won’t be able to view their profiles or posts.
Additionally, you must keep standards for screening on social media, or you risk violating the Fair Housing Act. According to this law, you must screen all tenants the same way or face discrimination charges. This means you can’t decide to check applicants’ Twitter profiles only when you’re suspicious they might have lied on their application.
If you choose to use social media for screening, you must use it for every applicant, use the same platforms, and perform the same checks every time. A general recommendation is to only use social media to verify applicants’ rental applications’ information – no aimless digging.
Some landlords go one step further than screening. They also use social media to monitor their current tenants.
Do you suspect your tenant has a secret pet? An illegal occupant? Are they involved in criminal activity? Investigating their social media (if you can get the tenant to accept your friend request) might help you find out.
There are several problems with using social media for tenant observation. There’s a fine line between enforcing the rules of your properties and unlawful surveillance.
For example, what will you do if you find evidence of rule-breaking? What if you see something (unrelated to renting) that you can’t ignore with a good conscious?
Maybe you learn something about a tenant’s political or religious beliefs that you disagree with. Even if you are careful, you can’t unsee something that may provoke your own bias and leave you liable to discrimination.
When monitoring tenants online, the bottom line is to use caution. Don’t rely on social media, and have a plan for handling the various information you may find.
Mastering Social Media In Your Rental Business
For many landlords, social media is foreign terrain. To others, it’s second nature. No matter your experience and opinions about social media, there’s no question of its usefulness in your rental business. By following the above recommendations, you can navigate social media carefully for the best results in your business.