Guest Author: Dawn Macri
Dawn is a content marketer at Updater. She specializes in long-form content and SEO writing for real estate and technology, and is our latest SOCi guest blogger!
An estimated 34% of millennials will buy a home in the next five years. But a new wave of renters is coming up fast: Generation Z. Born between 1995 and 2012, this generation makes up almost one quarter of the U.S. population, and is expected to add roughly 44.4 million new renters to the market within the next 10 years.
Though often clumped together with millennials, Gen Zers have different needs and priorities than their predecessors. As a tech-savvy, goal-oriented, and self-aware generation, they require more space to collaborate and connect both in-person and online. They are also true digital natives, having barely known a world without smartphones, tablets, and Netflix. They rely heavily on technology, more than any previous generation.
When building your property marketing strategy, it’s important to keep the priorities and lifestyle of Gen Zers in mind. Their relationship to technology is significant and will heavily influence their rental decisions. As your property adapts for the needs of this new generation of renters, here are the factors you need to be aware of and a few strategies to implement for a successful Gen Z marketing campaign.
What Gen Z Needs from the Multifamily Industry
Gen Zers expect their apartment communities to be tech-forward. From their kitchens to communal workspaces, ensuring they can access high-speed WiFi throughout your property is crucial. By including features such as USB ports, charging stations, and smart home devices, while offering tech-savvy moving tools, you can prove undeniably valuable when appealing to Gen Z renters. To drive this point home, keep your interactions digital and promote your community’s amenities with engaging social content.
Whether it’s a playlist or a newsfeed, Gen Z is accustomed to both curated and personalized experiences. When marketing to this generation, make sure your property offers different ways to connect and customize each interaction. For example, using online polls or questionnaires can help you define your audience while engaging them in a personalized experience.
Gen Zers believe in their ability to change the world. They value social responsibility and environmental awareness, so be prepared to prove your property’s dedication to the betterment of the community. Sponsoring local charity events and investing in energy-efficient amenities are just two ways you can provide positive messaging to Gen Z renters.
Growing up with Google in their pockets, Gen Zers have an infinite amount of information at their fingertips. They are regularly bombarded with unrealistic ads and “fake news.” To cut through the noise, provide authentic and approachable content that focuses on real people living at your properties. Share resident stories and encourage your audience’s participation on social media to ensure your community’s voice is heard. By giving potential renters a real-life glimpse into your apartment community, you’ll stand out as an authentic leader in the industry, not to mention an amazing place to live.
Sense of Community
Gen Zers are natural collaborators with entrepreneurial aspirations. They crave social interaction and need the space to create and network. When marketing your property, be sure to highlight coworking spaces and resident events that bring the community together. Not only will these efforts help Gen Zers envision themselves in your community, but they will also boost resident retention.
Marketing Strategies to Reach Gen Z
1. Increase Visual Content
Given Gen Z’s affinity for visual media, providing a variety of visual content — including photos, videos, and graphics — is crucial to your marketing efforts. When implementing, be sure you’re creating real, engaging, and digestible content that resonates with your audience and provides them with real value.
By adding value to your visual content, you give Gen Z a reason to share what you post. Leverage this content to publicize your property’s Gen Z-friendly amenities. Does your apartment community already have energy-efficient appliances and welcoming coworking spaces? Let Gen Z know by sharing dynamic content on your social media channels.
Here are some examples of how you can use visual content to reach Gen Z renters:
- Post images of units on Instagram
- Share photos of residents enjoying communal workspaces
- Promote community-wide events on Facebook
2. Invest in Video Content
Gen Zers watch an average of 68 videos a day across five different online platforms, so reaching them with engaging video content is key. This generation knows when they’re being marketed to, so don’t try to disguise your promotional content as something that it’s not. Instead, keep it real by providing valuable and informative videos that highlight your property’s best qualities. Also, ensure that your video content is shareable. Add a call to action and a link to make it easy for Gen Zers to share with their network.
Here are some examples of video content to use across different verticals:
- Create a YouTube channel promoting your property’s green amenities
- Hold brief Q&As with passionate employees
- Share resident stories on Snapchat or Instagram
3. Start Live Streaming
Gen Z connects with brands that they can trust, so offering meaningful interactions is a must. One way to provide meaning is to reach out to your social following via streaming. You can stream live videos to interact with your followers in real-time and give them live insight into your property.
Engage with your audience by inviting them to digitally explore your apartment community in real-time. Hold a Q&A session or give a behind-the-scenes tour of a community event on social media. This gives potential Gen Z renters a taste of your community’s lifestyle.
Here are some ways you can use video streaming to reach Gen Z renters:
- Use Facebook Live to hold video tours of units
- Sponsor a community event and provide social coverage on Facebook
- Hold Q&A sessions about your apartment community on Facebook Live
4. Implement AI
For Gen Z, instant gratification is the standard. Thankfully, quick response times, location-based property recommendations, and optimized social posts are all attainable with the help of artificial intelligence. Online, you can answer resident questions in minutes with chatbots and show relevant properties to Gen Zers based on their browsing activity.
You can also use AI in your property units themselves. Equip each unit with a smart voice assistant such as Amazon Echo and allow residents to communicate with property managers through them. Residents can also submit maintenance requests or pay rent, for example, through their voice assistant.
Here are some examples of how you can use AI to enhance your marketing strategy for Gen Z renters:
- Implement chatbots on your website
- Personalize Gen Z’s website experience with collaborative filtering
- Use AI market and competitive analysis tools to measure how well your brand’s message resonates on social media
5. Optimize Your Content for Voice Search
As of January, 2018, there were over 1 billion voice searches per month, and 40% of those mobile searches had local intent. As for Gen Z, 57% of 18-24 year olds will increase their voice device usage in the coming years, so these numbers are likely to skyrocket in the near future. This leaves massive potential for apartment communities to leverage localized content by optimizing it for voice searches.
To optimize your content for voice, ensure your content is easy to read and free of unnecessary jargon. To help with this, create an FAQ page that contains a variety of questions with corresponding answers. Not only will this optimize your content for voice search, but it will also add overall value to your website.
Be sure to create and claim your Google My Business listing and fill out each section in its entirety. After verifying your apartment community, complete your profile with photos and short videos. Be sure to add pictures that highlight the unique benefits of your property and brand along with a profile and cover photo. Then, ask residents and social media followers to leave reviews on your Google My Business page.
Here are some ways you can optimize your content for voice search:
- Write content that is conversational and natural to read
- Optimize for complete questions and provide complete answers
- Claim your Google My Business listing and complete each section
6. Create Interactive Polls, Surveys, and Reviews
A whopping 60% of Gen Zers say it’s important that brands value their opinion. To show that you’re listening, involve Gen Zers by encouraging them to share their views on social media. By crafting the right questions, you can optimize your social presence while learning more about Gen Zers as individuals.
When running a poll, ask questions that encourage engagement. If you offer coffee in your lobby, for instance, start a poll that asks your social followers to vote for their favorite roast. This way, you share valuable information about your property in exchange for information about your Gen Z followers.
Here are some examples of how you can reach Gen Z renters with polls, surveys, and reviews:
- Conduct polls on Instagram and Twitter asking property-related questions
- Include short surveys or quizzes on your website that help prospects decide on the right unit for them
- Tactfully reach out to satisfied residents for reviews
7. Collaborate With Influencers
Think of influencers as boutique PR agencies. These digital entrepreneurs carry massive social influence over Gen Z. Working with influencers that share your brand’s core beliefs can help you tap into the Gen Z culture.
When developing an influencer campaign, strive for authenticity. For the most genuine partnerships, build long-term relationships with influencers who already live in your apartment community. Check that your brands share common values. If not, the partnership and the campaign could be viewed as false or forced.
As a property management company, you have a unique opportunity to partner with influencers in a variety of different ways. For instance, you can invite an influencer to film videos and/or hold interviews at your property, or partner with an interior design influencer to stage vacant units. With the array of options outside of typical partnerships and campaigns, you have the freedom to get creative.
Presenting your audience and social followers with a unique experience, thanks to your property-influencer partnership, lets your property’s brand stand out.
Here are some creative ways to collaborate with influencers:
- Connect with influencers on YouTube and Instagram
- Have your property sponsor blog and social posts on sites targeted at Gen Z
- Invite influencers to host a video tour of your apartment community
8. Optimize Your Website for Mobile Use
Gen Zers can use up to five devices at one time, spending an average of 15.4 hours per week on their phones. To capitalize on this opportunity, optimize your website and all of your video content for mobile use. Improving your website’s load time can be complicated, but it is well worth the investment. Even a few seconds’ lag time will lose the attention of Gen Zers. A reported 40% of mobile internet browsers abandon a webpage if it doesn’t load within 2-3 seconds, so you want to ensure your website loads as quickly as possible.
For optimal performance, you may also have to redesign or resize some of your photos. Certain elements such as pop-ups and banners may also need to be adjusted to display properly on mobile devices. As you modify the layout of your site, make sure you focus on its functionality to enhance the user experience.
Here are a few ways you can optimize your website for mobile use:
- Improve your website’s load time
- Redesign your popups
- Compress large images
9. Go Digital
Providing instant, digital access to your property’s portal is crucial for reaching and engaging Gen Z renters. They are accustomed to accessing a wealth of information in seconds, so allowing them to take care of their rental needs online is a must. Bottom line, say goodbye to snail mail and up your digital game.
Even simple tasks such as paying rent and applying for an apartment can be done through your community’s online portal. Saving them time during these often daunting tasks, will win you major convenience points from Gen Zers.
Here are some ways that you can bring your community’s processes into the digital age:
- Allow residents to pay rent through an online portal
- Let potential residents submit rental applications online
- Publicize maintenance announcements via email and your social channels
Gen Z is unlike any other generation, so fine-tuning your marketing efforts now will pay off over time. Now that you have a handful of strategies to get you started, you can get a running start on appealing to this massive demographic.