Now that you’re past the holiday food and drink extravaganza, you can finally start planning a winning digital marketing strategy for 2018. Let’s peer into the crystal ball to forecast important insights within the rich and complex multifamily market. Before trying to decide which new hashtags or memes will go viral this year, consider these seven important digital marketing trends to watch out for in 2018 when implementing new advertising campaigns.
1. TV, It’s Not You, It’s Me. (The Futriciti Is Now)
Maybe we haven’t completely broken up with television, but the increasing trend toward dating other media sources is undeniable. Television viewership has been declining steadily year after year as more of our purchase decisions are made on-the-go, and on smart devices, after a few precise swipes. As more people source content on alternative platforms, 2018 will reflect more diverse avenues for reaching a dynamic multifamily audience. Prospects may watch your apartment video content as bumper ads on YouTube, virtual reality tour experiences, and short-form, micro-moment content. Live streaming content and mobile video will also reflect exponential growth in viewership in 2018.
Buckle up for more visits into virtual and augmented reality, as well as the evolution of AI applications in multifamily marketing. Visually-rich and interactive elements will continue to garner more attention from prospects online, and services like Futriciti create an immersive experience of being in their next luxury apartment before the building is even built. Google Analytics-wrapped pins within the ‘gamified’ virtual reality experience evoke user interaction, providing valuable information on preferences in layout, amenities, and finish features so that each virtual tour provides actionable data. The Futriciti is now.
2. Jedi Masters of Micro-Moment Video (As Attention Spans Get Shorter)
Mobile gadgets will no doubt increasingly become the primary medium of customer interaction and engagement with your multifamily brand. With attention spans getting shorter, being able to master the short-form video format—what we call a “micro-moment”—creates a compelling and digestible medium to tell stories unique to your community. The rise of micro-moments reflects the fast-paced, decision-making process, dictated by growing mobile usage, in which people quickly search to know, go, do, and usually, buy.
As Jason Naumann, Chief (Jedi) Creative Officer at GTMA states: “The approach our Visual Production team takes to micro-moment content is to create a condensed and compelling story for the property with a duration of 15 seconds or less. With short-form content, you are able to use the video across all social media platforms and get a lot more life out of it. Plus, my team likes the creative challenge of shooting and editing a rich, hyperlocal, short form lifestyle segment.”
As Google points out, micro-moments are crucial within the “right here, right now” search habits of prospective renters as they scroll through options and click on a few videos or links that may become their next home. Lifestyle, micro-moments content can generate customer interest and build brand awareness without feeling like an ad. That’s the Jedi mind trick every marketing team wants to pull off. Cinemagraphs and Facebook Canvas Ads are other captivating new additions to the diverse media engagement landscape for digital marketing managers looking for eye-catching content that stands out from the majority of non-dynamic ads.
3. Instagram Is On Fire (While Twitter Fritters Away)
It’s no secret that while other social media platforms reflect steady or rapid growth, Twitter failed to bolster its user base in 2017, or to make any meaningful changes to its ad formats. The platform has attempted to revitalize its reach by expanding its traditional 140 character count to 280, but the change has yet to show any real dividends. Critics even say the increased message size backfired, because what was once a differentiator for Twitter is now history. Twitter still has its value, however rising stars like Instagram and LinkedIn made clear power moves in 2017, which will continue to trend upward in 2018, on both organic and paid media fronts.
Instagram continues to grow at a feverish pace, and its visual foundation is a natural fit for apartment marketing strategies and brand-building. In 2017, with Instagram reaching approximately 800 million people each month, the Millennial and Gen Z usage of the platform will only continue to blossom, making for a safe place to invest lead generation dollars on top of organic brand awareness posting and engagement.
Many apartment home community brands are getting their strongest engagement on Instagram versus any other social platform, and since the Facebook advertising platform and audience targeting is available for its sister platform as well, Instagram is trending towards becoming the go-to channel for apartment social media marketing in 2018.
4. Everybody Loves Paid Media Ads (Not So Much)
More tech-savvy online surfers use ad-blocker software, and most of us make it a point to close, remove, or swipe as fast as a thumb can move any ad that pops up in our digital lives. 100 million consumers in the U.S. will be using ad-blocking apps by 2020, which is a big increase from 44 million in 2016. As cited by Optimal.com estimates, this is projected to create $12 billion lost in display ad revenue in 2020. Yikes.
Google is implementing a Chrome tool in 2018 that mutes autoplay videos, which consumers love, but throws a curveball to fellow marketers. To outsmart the ad-blocking and silencing set, platforms like Facebook are using various methods to disable ad-blocking, and to ensure that their paid media client ads are actually being seen.
Advertising platforms and the ad-blocking, ad-averse consumers will continue to counterpunch each other in 2018 and beyond, so having paid media strategies that are tailor-made to your location and unique brand is crucial.
5. Content Marketing Isn’t Trendy, It’s Money (Doubling Down on Authentic Hyperlocal)
More than two-thirds of people said they’d prefer to learn about an apartment through an article or testimonial versus an ad. Content marketing will be increasingly effective versus other types of marketing, while producing even more leads, and content provides value by sharing engaging hyperlocal stories, footage, and events that people actually want to view and connect with. Organic, curated hyperlocal posts on social media platforms for multifamily brands will increasingly become a trusted source and a social hub that can retain residents and be a foundation for lead generation. Similarly, the fact that resident reviews and testimonials are more trustworthy than any paid media plugs also means playing offense on Yelp will be another key strategy in 2018.
Content marketing isn’t a trending fad. It’s here to stay and it’s the medium digested the most by the growing target audience of Millennial and Gen Z renters. Hyperlocal content enables marketers to deliver the brand message without overtly selling something, which is the best marketing strategy for any vertical, not just Multifamily. Content marketing also has versatility, with forms such as blog posts and custom video productions that can highlight lifestyles or pre-development branding.
6. Generation X, Y, & now Z Marketing (New Kids On The Renting Block)
Generation Y (Millennials) are no longer the new kids on the block as a brand-new generation of renters begins to enter the marketing arena. If your marketing team is tired of only marketing to Millennials, get ready to focus your Geo-Targeted, prospect-tracking laser on Generation Z. The trends for 2018 point toward focusing more on Generation Z behaviors and analytics data. So buckle up people because Gen Z will span almost 20 years from a sociological standpoint, which gives you plenty of time to figure out what their habits and preferences are. Go ahead and create a new circle on your dartboard since we’ll be marketing to these smartphone-from-birth consumers for decades to come.
7. Google My Business Management (Is Now Your Jam)
Last year, Google Plus took a back seat in favor of Google Posts within your Google My Business profile. 2018 will be the year of consistent management of your Google My Business posts and features, which is now offered as part of our fundamental social management strategy at GTMA. All signs point to a more dynamic and interactive usage of Google Posts for multifamily marketers, which can enhance SEO results by tailoring your listing as it appears in the Knowledge Panel to create enhanced synergy with current business objectives. Google Posts can also help increase your visibility online and drive additional traffic to your website, or landing page, by capturing the attention of users with eye-catching visuals. Actively curating your content and branding on your Google My Business panel is a no-brainer for 2018 and every year thereafter.
With digital marketing technology morphing, and the channels to deliver curated content diversifying, being able to appeal to a sophisticated and fickle target demographic will be the 2018 bullseye to hit. Building brand awareness, refining lead generation, and authentically engaging with prospects and residents will help command the competitive edge versus the other three to five luxury apartments that your prospect is looking at right now on Yelp, a blog, an Instagram post, or that bumper ad on YouTube.