The modern real estate customer is technology savvy with a laser focus on the digital space – so much so that in 2016, 44 percent of home buyers and renters searched online for a new residence before even thinking of calling a real estate agent for guidance.

With that level of focus on digital, there is an even higher priority placed on video in the real estate market. 85 percent of buyers and sellers want to work with communities and agents who use video and online real estate listings that include a video get four times the inquiries of listings without video.

And nowhere in real estate are those digital and video trends more apparent than in the two biggest demographics to ever hit the multifamily industry – the Millennial and Generation Z markets. If it’s their attention a leasing agent wants, leasing agents need to look no further than online video. For Gen Z alone, 32 percent watch video online for one hour every single day and the larger majority watch online video for at least two hours a day. Even 21 percent of these demographics will watch videos for more than 3 hours every single day. And where are they watching this content? Mobile and social.

Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are the most popular platforms across the board, but mobile usage reigns supreme in all four. 80 percent of social media time is spent on a mobile device with a recent Social Media Week report indicating that Millennials are spending six to seven hours a week on social media, while nearly half of Gen Z are checking their social media hourly.

Whether it’s through social media or other digital mediums, video is how Millennials and Gen Z are consuming information online today and it is the most effective way of connecting with them. So, with all the video content floating around, how can multifamily professionals and teams make sure their content is hitting the mark?

Two words:

Be Real.

Why is realness so important to this market? Millennials and Gen Z demand realness and transparency with the brands they interact with – and where they live is no different. That’s why keeping videos authentic needs to be a top priority for multifamily professionals that want to do something, anything with video.

Millennials and Gen Z place an extraordinarily high value on authenticity and realistic narrative in advertisements. How that applies to multifamily, is that they want to see what they want to see in a community – they want the real, authentic experience, not a highly produced marketing video with flashy graphics, a professional voice-over, and guest actors laying by the pool. 

Millennials want to feel like the brands and companies they engage with are transparent and share their values. There’s no better way of communicating that online than via video. Gen Z takes that desire for shared values a step further and place an even higher value on realness, obsessing over brands that give them a real, authentic feel. They know and can recognize Photoshopped ads, images or videos, and misleading content from a mile away. Try to fool them once and they are likely to never trust your brand again.

What does that mean for your multifamily community? Don’t hide anything and show it as it is. If they are truly interested in living there, they’re going to see it as it is eventually anyways. If they visit onsite only to realize that what they saw online is not in fact the real story of what it’d be like to live there, then they’re good as gone. They either won’t be signing a lease, or will be a very unhappy resident if they’ve already signed and most certainly will not be renewing. All of that dissatisfaction can be avoided simply by being real and transparent with your online digital marketing, and especially with your video content.

As most who have a social media account can attest to, it’s easy to manipulate photos and videos in the social world. Often people are showing only their best, most curated life. People today long for the “truth” behind photos and videos. And it is becoming easier to tell the difference between manipulated photos and real simply because so many people are opting to be real online. That hasn’t stopped many top brands and people online from still wanting to capture that perfect shot or stage things in the right way to make things look as they desire. Take a look at these two articles for proof at how some so-called ‘perfect’ pictures are REALLY attained.

What does that mean for multifamily marketers or onsite leasing teams? While cropping out that smaller closet space or not showing the view of the parking lot from the balcony may seem tempting, in the end, it may do more harm than good. You would be much better off showing the closet and posting a video of how residents are making the space work in creative ways. Or touting how large the patio is and how much entertaining can be done out there, whether looking at a parking lot or not. That sort of authenticity and honesty will go far in endearing the brand to these highly sought-after renters.

Prospective residents know that manipulations occur with photos and videos, and that is why so much value is placed on realness, authenticity, and transparency. Those 3 things instill trust into an online space and provide comfort in knowing that what they’re seeing is the real deal. Do this and you will earn a level of trust and loyalty that can pay off many times over in the long run with things like increased conversion rates, decreased sales cycles, increased renewal rates, increased online reputation, positive reviews, and more. All from being one thing…real

Until next time…keep it real!