“Below guest blogger and CLASS Leasing Specialists James King weighs in on the new changes to Facebook:

The team at Facebook has finally thrown down the gauntlet and is poised to show the world that it can hold its own against search engine giant, Google. Early in January, Facebook announced its new social search engine, called “Graph Search”. Facebook plans to change the way we search by using the personal data of you, your friends, and the 1 billion other users of the social media giant. It works by taking the likes, check-ins, and locations of all the people, places, and things on Facebook and indexes all of that information into a search engine. Now, a user can search “People who went to University of Georgia and like R.E.M.” and get a list of all the Facebook users that meet that requirement. With this switch to a more social search engine, now is a good time to make sure your Facebook profile is up-to-date.

In addition to looking up individuals with the new Graph Search, it is also possible to look up pages of businesses and landmarks. Prospects can submit searches like “Apartments in Sarasota, Florida” or “Townhomes my friends have been to” and receive a personalized list of apartments, emphasizing the ones that have more likes and activity within their group of friends. We all know that word of mouth is one of the most valuable marketing tools a manager or leasing agent has at their disposal, and this brings those personal endorsements to a more public scale. Now every time a friend of a resident searches for apartments through Graph Search, your page will pop up on the top of the listings. That is, of course, as long as your residents have liked or checked into your apartment community. Maybe now is the time to take a look at your Facebook strategy before Graph Search goes live within the next couple months.

There are several ways to stimulate the number of likes on your Facebook page: -Add a flyer promoting your Facebook page to the leasing office and make sure your residents and prospects don’t leave without one!

  •  Insert a link to your Facebook page in your e-mail signatures and website. I also make sure to put links in my Craigslist ads to make sure new prospects see the most updated specials and offers.
  •  Many residents might not want to add your page and be spammed with links they care little about. Make sure the links and statuses you are posting are of value. One great selling point is that Facebook and Twitter are great for distributing information about events and news on-site quickly.
  • Utilize QR codes and text messages to make it easier for residents to ‘Like’ you. Residents can text “like YourFacebookPage” to 32665 and automatically become fans without having to get on a computer. Alternatively, they can scan a QR code with their smartphone (Kaywa is a great source to generate free codes) and jump instantly to your Facebook page.
  •  Offer a small incentive for people to like your page. For example, if a prospect is ready to submit an application, offer $5 off the application fee in exchange for them to like your page. They save $5, and you gain more visibility with all of his/her Facebook friends and acquaintances.

Remember that social media growth is a marathon and not a sprint, and that consistent work is key to build a strong social media base. By re-examining your Facebook page now, you will be a step ahead of your competitors and will look even better in front of prospects searching the web for their new home. Check out the video below for an example of the Graph Search in action:”

Video of Facebook Graph

Thanks for sharing your tremendous insight James!