Social Media for Landlords? Opportunity Knocks

Social media offers landlords an opportunity to understand tenants like never before. For this to happen we need more landlords to move out of broadcast mode, instead engaging with tenants meaningfully online.  Here’s some quick ideas which your landlord can implement this week.

Community building and customer service
Many landlords have chosen a Facebook Page as their primary space to engage residents online when in actual fact a Facebook Group may be more appropriate for their needs. A simple Google search of ‘Facebook Groups vs Pages’ will help you weigh up the pros and cons. To paraphrase, a Page is a great marketing tool but it’s rare to see one work as an online community for residents – that’s where Groups really come into their own.  Like many housing landlords, Yarlington Housing Group had a small core group of involved residents, but the majority were older and retired. Ken Comber, Head of Communities at Yarlington, wanted to engage younger, more diverse tenants to become part of their resident focus groups. It was important that barriers, such as mental health, physical disability or location, didn’t impede the housing association’s methods of communication. With that in mind, Ken took the plunge and developed a Facebook group called Yarlington Chat. 18 months on, the group now has thousands of members and is controlled by residents themselves.

Leadership                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Working in the social housing sector is about so much more than providing accommodation. Whether it’s the bedroom tax or making housing affordable for first time buyers there’s some huge issues affecting the sector. Every landlord should have a blog where your Chief Executive, Chairperson or policy specialist can offer their insights on the big issues. If your landlord doesn’t currently have ability to blog look at guest blogging on sites with existing audiences, such as The Guardian Housing Network. A blog used in tandem with an active Twitter presence is a formidable communications tool.

Storytelling                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Video and audio are hugely underused mediums within the social housing sector. While dull, lengthy corporate videos are ten a penny it is rare to see short, engaging content that tells the difference housing associations make on a daily basis. Using simple, free apps like Soundcloud, Audioboom, Instagram Video, Facebook Live and YouTube frontline staff can become social reporters, demonstrating the impact of their work as they go via short conversations with residents.

Ross McCulloch is the founder of Be Good Be Social as well as Director of Third Sector Lab. He has worked with a wide range of charity and public sector clients on social media strategy, including Relationships Scotland, SCVO, Oxfam Scotland, Enable Scotland, and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Ross also sits on Foundation Scotland’s Impact and Innovation Committee and is Chair of Comic Relief’s Community Cash Glasgow funding panel.