At the moment one of the biggest challenges to giving apartment tours is that people aren’t coming to your physical property. It might be the social distancing to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus right now, but sometimes it can be a scheduling conflict or an out-of-state potential resident that will require the need to do an impromptu home tour.
Note: need advice on how to pivot your marketing strategy during this tough time? Go here.
One of the best and most authentic tools to pull this off is most likely in the palm of your hand right now; your smartphone. You have the option of shooting a Facebook live video, a real-time FaceTime chat or just filming your apartment and having a video that you can send off anytime. If you want to do a more produced version (branding, music, text…) or want to take the tour you filmed and use it for ads, please reach out to us at GTMA and we would love to help you create great original content with your apartment tour.
No matter what type of phone you have, here are some tips to get the best quality video possible.
A lot of social media content right now is done vertically (portrait), so that is how most people are used to watching videos on their devices. At GTMA we shoot our high-quality content horizontally because we are working with professional cameras and wider lenses that are ideal for filming horizontally (landscape). Most camera phones have lenses that aren’t wide enough to see the floor and ceiling in the same shot (there are some exceptions in the newer phones), so going portrait will help see more of the room in one frame.
You yourself are probably more comfortable with filming on your phone vertically, so that will also help keep the tour more authentic and less stressful for you. This will also make it easier to shoot for Facebook Live.
Exceptions can be made if you have a strong preference for seeing video landscape or you are doing a FaceTime chat and the potential tenant is holding their phone horizontally.
Pro Tip: once you start recording, don’t change your mind and tip your camera or the rest of your tour will be sideways (this note may or may not be from personal experience).
To avoid causing motion sickness and to create the best experience possible, you will want to make a point of moving the camera as slow and as smoothly as possible. It’s a common tendency to move the camera at the speed of your head turn or aligned with what you are saying, but then you start to create a “horror film feel” as you are swinging the camera around the space. This includes making a point of walking a little slower than normal and of holding the camera as steadily as you can.
Even if the image looks fine to you while you are zipping around the room, the internet connection the video will be viewed on or the quality of the playback are beyond your control, so the faster the movements the more the quality drops during playback.
Another reason to take your time moving the camera is that the lighting and color tint settings are automatic for almost all smartphone cameras, so you will want to allow time for the device to adjust.
The quality of the cameras on smartphones has dramatically improved, so filming towards the bright light coming through a window isn’t as bad as it used to be, but you still want to use the brightest light to your advantage. So try to plan your shots with the sun behind you whenever possible.
4. Stay Wide
You want to maintain the widest view possible while doing the tour, and only “push-in” when you are showing off a very specific feature (countertops, the brand name of an appliance, backsplash, etc.). There are two ways to manage this. First, use the widest option for your camera lens. A lot of phones now have multiple lens options (telephoto, regular or wide) and you should pick the widest option available to you.
The second way to do this is to try and stand against the walls when showing off a room, as opposed to standing in the middle and spinning around. Stepping back and showing the whole space in its entirety will give the most accurate perspective of the apartment home.
It would be wise to walk the space prior to filming it. Make sure the patio door is unlocked, that the lights are all on and that everything is picked up and presentable. It’s also a good time to think through the order of what you want to discuss and make some notes on what you want to say. You might also want to note what time of day the apartment looks the best and plan around that if you aren’t doing a “live” tour. Around noon you might have the evenest lighting in the space, but if it’s too dark, you might want to plan to do the tour when the sun is coming directly through the windows.
It’s always an option to edit the video after you have completed the filming, but it’s more authentic to deliver the piece in as few shots as you can to make it feel as close to “live” as possible.
- When you are starting the tour, say your name, community name and the type of unit you are touring. This helps make the piece feel more authentic and also being specific with unit names avoid confusion if you have numerous tours you’re producing at one location.
- If you are FaceTiming you might want to show your face first when you start and then flip the camera around for the walking tour. Again, it’s great to see a face and make the whole experience feel more authentic. Future residents want to get to know the staff that’s running the community where they may move into!
- Keep each tour short and to one apartment type.
- Do tours of your amenity spaces as well (great to have these already shot and edited so you can send them out to prospective residents right away).
- Speak clearly towards the camera so that the audio is as clear as possible.
- Do your best to avoid your reflection in windows and mirrors so as to not be a distraction during the tour (if it’s a FaceTime or live streaming, then you might want to wave into the mirror to make it more personable).
Filming is done. Now what?
If you used Facebook Live to do the tour, you can save your video and use it again. The “save button” at the end of a Facebook live session does indeed save the file to the device’s gallery in addition to the Facebook web gallery.
If you have the ability, it’s nice to put your branding and the tour title (what the tour is of) before the video starts and possibly even after. Adding soft music is also an option, but don’t have it compete with the audio of you narrating the tour.
Adding specific text callouts in the video can help punctuate specific selling points and create a visual for features that can’t be shown (soundproof windows, size of the unit, smart home features, etc.). As well, text callouts provide a more polished and professional look as this video will represent your brand.
Like any content created for your community, it’s important to know how to best use it. These tours are not meant to replace the more stylized and produced content that you should use in your normal marketing efforts, so we wouldn’t suggest using these videos the same way. These are best sent to specific people that are interested in a tour but can’t do it in person. These are tools best used once a future resident is past the awareness and consideration phase of the marketing funnel and is ready to convert but just wants to see the exact product they are about to purchase.
So there you have it, you are ready to start creating your video tour! As usual, if you would like some assistance, we are here to help! Contact GTMA Partnerships and we can walk you through your options.