Canadians are spending more time online than any other country. The average Canadian spends about 45 hours a month browsing the Internet, according to new figures from ComScore Inc. The majority of that time is spent on social networking sites such as Facebook.
While ComScore said social networks are rapidly expanding their user base, it added that Facebook was “nearing a point of visitor saturation” in Canada. Still, it remains the preferred destination of most Canadians – the term “Facebook” was the No. 1 search query in the country to close the year. Canada has more than 17 million users. Canada's penetration rate of about 51.2 per cent of the population, or 65.9 per cent of the online population, is still one of the most significant on Facebook.
This signals a drastic shift in how we get our information; instead of searching for information on search engines and other portals, we are finding that information by viewing our friend’s recommendations or asking friends for feedback using social media networks.
An important question to ask here is how would the rental industry make use of this significant shift in where we consume data? Many are adding Facebook share and like buttons to their websites, others have built Facebook fan pages, and created Twitter accounts. While these are essential steps in harnessing the power of social media, they are only making it easy for users take the information to social media networks, they simply lack engagement and we need to engage.
How do we engage these users you may ask? By participating in conversations with both existing and potential tenants and by taking our information to the social media networks. We can share photos, news and announcements on social media networks. We need to ensure that the communication is not a one way stream. Users themselves need to feel they are engaged and participating in this interaction and the best way to engage them is by…. building apps!
Imagine a tenant searching for an apartment right on Facebook and ask their friends for opinions about neighbourhoods without having to switch to another website to perform their search. Imagine them using Facebook chat to ask their friends for feedback and getting a reply in real time, while looking at the property details and photos. Facebook itself does not provide all that capability but all this can be done by building Facebook apps that allow people to search for rentals and communicate on the platform itself.
You can also build apps that list out details about your apartments on your own Facebook page, and have that information update the pricing and availability automatically without having to post it manually every time it changes. You can build apps to engage your existing tenants, allow them to submit forms, make it easy for them to refer friends or even hold contests. You can also build useful utility apps that everyone can use on daily basis as a way to promote your brand and increase visibility.
Today's reality requires we innovate; RentCompass has the first Canadian app for finding rentals on Facebook, and the first and most popular app for finding rentals on mobile phones. Contact RentCompass to learn how to get your own Facebook App - Free!
To learn more visit http://www.rentcompass.com/social
* This article also recently on the BuildingBlocks magazine.