With more than one billion users, Facebook is a powerful platform for your marketing initiatives as a property manger. To that end, AppFolio interviewed Charity Hisle, social media consultant at Socially Engaged Marketing. Charity is known for her innovative and unique insights on utilizing social media strategies to attract and retain residents. Having worked with over a thousand communities and industry vendors nationwide, Charity has a unique perspective on the use of social networking channels to reach community prospects. Read the interview below for Charity’s insights and advice to take your Facebook marketing to the next level.

Can you tell us about Socially Engaged Marketing?
Socially Engaged Marketing® provides social media training to property management professionals within the multifamily industry via webinars, conference and leadership events. I also travel nationally to speak to property management companies about reputation management and the importance of monitoring online reputations of companies and employees.

In a nutshell, what are the three top ways to leverage Facebook as a property management firm?
1. Resident Retention: Use Facebook to communicate with residents. Bring value to their everyday experience online!

2. Prospecting: Facebook is the king of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing! By using the tagging features and promoted posts, a company can target friends-of-fans and potential future residents easily and efficiently.

3. Advertising: Reaching new prospects is made possible by Facebook’s Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories. People are less likely to ignore content within their news feeds, so skip the expensive sidebar ad options.

Over the years, what has been the one most effective Facebook marketing campaign that you’ve come across?
Wow, that’s a hard one! But I would say the most effective campaign was one by IKEA in 2009. Basically, they posted showroom photos and people would tag what they wanted within the photo. The first person to tag an item, won the item for free. The photo was shared and tagged thousands of times and was a huge success!

Of course, we’re no longer allowed to use tagging on Facebook for promotions. Once Facebook saw the effectiveness of that campaign, they modified the rules almost immediately.

What are some of the best ways for a property management firm to improve its Facebook EdgeRank?
The number one way to improve EdgeRank is to get more comments! Ask questions… fill-in-the-blank work the best. Of course, you’ll have to promote the post or sponsor a story to gain any attraction in newsfeeds these days.

Another way is to tag commenters with replies once they do comment on posts. Keep the conversation going. Comments, comments, comments!

Facebook is now requiring that companies pay to maximize reach in promoting individual posts. When should this feature be triggered?
I would promote a few posts per month to expand your reach. The posts should ask a question or inspire sharing to be most effective.

Retargeting is now finally available in Facebook. How can one get started, and when would Facebook Retargeting make sense for a property management firm?
They are still testing the waters of retargeting via Facebook Exchange, but initial results are promising. For instance, a community would focus on those prospects that have visited their website but haven’t yet leased. If the primary goals for using Facebook are brand awareness and favorability, the best solution would be to stick with Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories. Lease-up and renewal seasons are the best times to invest in retargeting. The easiest way to get started would be to check out the Facebook Exchange Resource Guide.

How should a property management firm measure Facebook ROI?
ROI will depend on the goals of using Facebook. For each company, they may be a little (or a whole lot) different! The truth is that once a property management group has found their magic ROI calculator, they aren’t going to share it with their competition. It is essential to find your own calculation and improve as needed.

Remember, don’t measure your number of Facebook “likes.” Each page will measure the value of a fan differently, based on numerous factors like EdgeRank.

Start by determining your goals. What are you spending (in time and dollars) to achieve your goal? Once you calculate what you’re spending, determine the value of your goal. These are essential to the ROI formula: ROI = Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment (including time and money) divided by the Cost of Investment (including time and money).

Here’s an overly-simple example*:
The goal is to get leads.
The value of a lead is $100.
The investment in Facebook in time is 1 hour (let’s say about $25 per hour).
The Facebook investment in dollars is $300.
We receive 5 leads.
ROI = $500 – $325/$325 = 53.8%

*This actually could be more complicated if you want to add in the value of overhead (Internet connection, benefits, hardware, software) to the equation.

Measuring Ad ROI has an even more simple answer: According to Facebook, brands should wait 365 days before expecting an ad campaign to produce something of value! It sounds like a joke, but it’s true! The way I determine ROI from ads is by calculating the ad responses (clicks, click-thru’s, leases, referrals, etc.).