Joshua Swanson

NAA Article on GoToMyApartment Meerkat Event

April 20, 2015 Apartment Marketing Digital Marketing Published Articles 0
National Apartment Association Meerkat Event at Alta Brookhaven

Originally published on the National Apartment Association Aptly Spoken Blog.

Live Streaming Video Apps Meerkat & Periscope Will Change Multifamily Marketing Forever

New Technology Changes The Internet Forever

Two weeks ago, Periscope, a live streaming app acquired by Twitter, launched and only hours later the 45-day old Meerkat, a competitor, announced that they had raised $14 million in funding and amassed a half-million users.  Why so much interest in these two mobile apps? Simply put, their technology makes the immediacy of social media even more immediate.

“At that moment I realized that the Internet had changed forever.”

As a self-proclaimed social media junkie, I was an early adopter of Meerkat. Half-way through my first live broadcast, someone watching messaged me via the app saying ‘tuning in from Dallas and happy to finally see your face instead of just reading your tweets.’ At that moment I realized that the Internet had changed forever. Now social media isn’t just 140 characters or a viral video, it’s a live video feed streaming from one person’s mobile device and broadcast to the world real-time. The introduction of this technology presents tremendous opportunities for how we can now market our multifamily communities.

Use Case for Multifamily Communities

Picture this: a prospect calls an apartment community to inquire about a specific unit that they saw in a re-targeted ad, on the community website or on a social network. In the past, the Leasing Agent’s phone sales skills, along with price and location, would be the deciding factors in whether or not that prospect came in for a tour. Now, thanks to this new technology, a Leasing Agent no longer needs to use buzzwords or the promise of an amazing view to book that tour. Agents can immediately ‘take the prospect for a tour’ by logging into the Meerkat or Periscope apps and live streaming the actual apartment home that’s available. In other words, they are letting the product sell itself.

Not only that, but because the apartment community has built up an audience on several social networks, each time the Leasing Agent streams a live tour a tweet goes out notifying other potential future residents who can then tune in and watch. Now, those three roommates that are all in separate locations, but need a new apartment by the end of the week, can log in together and watch the tour.

Another ridiculously useful aspect to these live streaming apps is the real-time messaging function. The host sees a note pop-up when a viewer messages in a question and can simply speak the answers. AND, again, because these apps are tied to Twitter, each message that a viewer submits is broadcast as a tweet, thereby increasing the reach of the live stream to your and the viewer’s mutual Twitter followers. #Brilliant

A SUPER ridiculously useful aspect of these live streaming apps is that users can schedule tours in advance! So, now a Leasing Agent can schedule a weekly tour of whatever is available and publicize those live streaming tours. Each week potential residents can tour available apartment homes from their desk at work (don’t tell the boss). Periscope even lets users save the videos for up to a week so that others can come back and access the video later. #DoubleBrilliant

Meerkat In Action at #AltaBrookhaven in Atlanta

My multifamily digital agency GoToMyApartment embraced this new live streaming technology early by throwing the first Meerkat party / live tour at Alta Brookhaven Apartments in Atlanta, GA on April 8th. To test my theory that future residents will conduct the ENTIRE leasing cycle via the web, we advertised a virtual event on GoToMyApartment’s social profiles, Alta Brookhaven’s social profiles, Craigslist and on my personal social accounts. At the appointed time we had Leasing Manager Samala Walker led viewers on a tour of this new luxury community.  Participants asked questions, Samala answered, and we even announced a new leasing special at the end of the tour.

Here’s the breakdown of the statistics we compiled after the event:

  • We saw a huge spike in organic twitter impressions on the day of the event with 10,698 reached between the three accounts
  • The hashtag #AltaBrookhaven reached 92,401 people
  • The hashtag #AltaBrookhaven was delivered to 330,807 Twitter timelines
  • Between Meerkat and Periscope, we had 74 viewers join the streaming tour (How long would it take your Leasing Agents to give 74 individual tours?)

Here’s a few questions that came in during the tour:

  • What kind of hardwood floors are those?
  • What is the pet policy and is there a pet deposit?
  • What is the weight limit for dogs?
  • How many walls can you paint?
  • Does Barrie work out? – Barrie Buckner is our Partnerships Manager and was running the GTMA live stream.
  • How much product does Joshua use in his hair? – yeah, I get a lot of respect from my team.

There were some great questions leading us to believe actual prospects watched the tour in hopes of seeing the product and getting questions answered. Seeing this activity certainly gets the industry very excited. Stacey Schlessinger, Learning & Development Director for Wood Residential Services says, ”this technology will be a big part of our leasing process going forward. The biggest challenge for us will be training our team, but that is a challenge we feel excited to tackle.”

What Did We Learn?

1 – Ensure that the path you’re taking on the tour has really strong WiFi or make sure the device you’re using can get a strong signal.

Yeah, you would think this would be obvious, and it was, but we still had connectivity issues. Wiring your whole community with WiFi would be expensive, so purchase a signal extender for the main office WiFi or buy a mobile hotspot to carry around with you.  Solving the connectivity issue is a small price to pay if it helps you close leases virtually. If a prospect takes a live streaming tour they’re one-step closer to clicking the “Apply Now” link on your website.

2 – Teach your Leasing Agents how to use the technology and keep in mind what angles make your apartments look their absolute best.

For instance, when you walk into a bedroom, usually you’re facing the windows which are pouring lovely sunlight into the room, but also blowing out the image on the camera so the viewer can’t see anything. Our Chief Creative Officer, Jason Naumann, says, “Hold the camera horizontal with two hands for stability, make slow, steady movements and always keep the light at your back.”

3 – Soon your Leasing staff will need to choose their app of preference, train on the app, and once they are ready to utilize these tools, add the apps icon to your website. Also, email future prospects, suggest the use of the app on the phone, and spread the word on your social networks so future residents know that a live Periscope tour of the actual unit is available for them right now. 

Any new technology will need to be incorporated into an overall marketing strategy in order for it to be effective. These live streaming tools will quickly trump a link to a photo set on Flickr or even an Apartment Video Tour. That Apartment Video Tour is still very necessary as a marketing tool to tell the story of your community and get that future resident interested, but once they’re hooked, reel them in by showing them the actual available apartment home right NOW via a live streaming app.


I am convinced that this type of technology can be the final tool needed to actually rent an apartment virtually without future residents first stepping foot in the community. Let’s face it, as much as we’re all obsessed with that Apply Now button, the only time I’ve ever seen it used is when a Leasing Agent sits a future resident down in front of the work station in the Leasing Office and asks them to apply online. Which is, of course, AFTER they’ve given that prospect an actual tour of the community.


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