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A new generation of student is working their way through the education system – Generation Z. The Gen Z demographic comes just after Millennials and is born from 2001 to current day. They are already over 25% of the US population and, by 2020, will account for a third of the US population while overtaking Millennials as the generation with the most spending power.

As this group reaches new phases in their education journey, they will be placing new expectations and new needs on housing along the way. As Gen Z students are looking for housing during this stage of their lives, it’s more important than ever for multifamily companies with student housing to know and understand how to target and engage this generation. And that is precisely where video comes into play.

One-third of Gen Z watch videos online at least 1 hour per day. And of those online videos, they’re being consumed on social channels like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. It’s important to create unique, native video content for each of those platforms if you want to standout and attract their attention amongst all of the noise. Also important to keep in mind, while this group loves video, they also have a rather short attention span. On average, marketers have about 8 seconds to reach them before they keep scrolling. So, grab them early to keep them engaged.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. Let’s dive deeper into some of the ways that video can prove to be the most powerful way multifamily professionals at student living communities can reach Gen Z students and get them into their new residences with as few hiccups as possible and maintain residency as happy, well-adjusted residents.

Show the Space

Video is incredibly powerful for student housing when it comes to actually showing your community. First of all, there are rarely ever just one decision maker involved in student living. There are likely parents who will want to accompany their student or have a way to see the space where they will be residing – a space that those very parents may also be helping to paying for.  Along with with parents, there most likely will be multiple roommates involved as well, who all want to be able to see the space and weigh in with their opinions. Or, perhaps, you’re working with an international student looking for a place to live that isn’t on campus yet and cannot travel from afar just to tour an apartment. Between coordinating schedules to dealing with distance, all of these scenarios can present unique difficulties that can all be resolved simply by using video. With video, leasing teams can conduct live tours with as many individuals as needed; giving each party the opportunity to see what’s of interest to them and ask any questions they may have in real time. Pre-recorded video tours also allow these prospective residents to “revisit” the property as much as they want when making their decision or pass the recordings on to family members or roommates who couldn’t physically join the tour. Video can provide a real, transparent experience for those looking to see a space and is an easy way to streamline the entire touring process for all involved.

Move-in Day

Move-ins at student properties are quite different than move-ins at traditional multifamily communities. How? Students almost all come back to campus at exactly the same time (or within a several week window of each other). That presents particular headaches and difficulties unlike any others experienced by multifamily professionals. On top of the chaos in coordinating so many move-ins, there is the calamity of many first time residents who may have never rented an apartment before, the parents very much on-site and involved in everything, and students dealing with the stress of school starting. Not to mention the disruption to existing residents that may have already been settled in! While much of the disorder and chaos of this period can’t be totally eliminated, there are ways to mitigate repetitive issues and confusion simply by using video. Instead of or in addition to sending physical move-in packets with instructions and guidelines, record a video walking through the move-in process, what to expect on move-in day, where to park for unloading, where to park after unloading, ins and outs of your new unit, and a quick welcome to the community! People retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video vs just 10% when reading it as text. That fact along should make it compelling to record a move-in video to send to every new resident prior to move-in day. Any information is a great way to improve the process and help all involved.

Resident Engagement

Considering how Gen Z connects and engages with video, it makes sense for leasing teams to use video for resident engagement. Creating and sharing videos to promote resident events can be a great way to connect the students within your the community. And don’t forget that, for many of these students, this may be their first time living alone, or at least away from their parents. A quick video (or two or three) on basic maintenance tips and how to’s can help make the life of your maintenance and management teams exponentially more enjoyable. Cutting down on maintenance calls because students didn’t know how to flip on a tripped breaker or because they didn’t know they had to clean the lint trap on their dryer? Life changing! Here’s a great example of a simple video instructing residents on how to flip back on a tripped breaker. This video alone can exponentially cut down on the number of key-ins required of your maintenance team for the simplest of all tasks. Speaking of, videos are also one of the best ways to introduce new residents to the maintenance and management teams – people they’ll be dealing with on a regular basis. These introduction videos not only create a better sense of community and trust, but also helps increase the resident’s sense of safety as well by knowing who they’ll be interacting with. 

Video isn’t just entertainment for Gen Z’s — it’s a way of life. It’s how they learn. It’s how they interact. They are digital natives, mobile first, and value transparency and realness in the brands they choose to work with. Using video can help your team not only reach them, but get them engaged enough to take an action early in the process. Knowing how invested they are in video can also help on-site teams keep them engaged and happy throughout their time they are residents. We know student living is stressful. Why not take every possible step you can take towards streamlining your processes for everyone involved and make video an asset for your teams? 

Until next time…keep it real!