My friend Kim Lee with Community Northwest has often told me about her philosophy on resident event success:
“Feed them, and they will come. Feed them well, and they will come again. Feed them well and introduce them to a friend, and they will keep coming.”
She’s a smart lady. Food is a huge motivating factor when it comes to enticing people out of their apartments and in to a social scene. It’s also a great motivating factor in gaining engagement on your Facebook page.
This summer, I did a contract job with a couple of college student properties, managing their social media and Facebook presence. Those of you who are on student properties might already be cringing, because trying to kick a FB page in to overdrive during the summer when your target residents AREN’T THERE is, needless to say, exceptionally difficult. I started with the usual recipe of localized contend and broad appeal postings, open ended questions, debates that mattered to the students, etc. and the numbers went up just a little. It wasn’t until I enticed them with food that we got engagement elate-ment occurred.
Every Tuesday, I would run a contest called TOP IT TUESDAY, where I would pick a food that required a topping of some sort, be it pizza, Chipotle, Ice Cream, Burgers, etc. and then simply ask the students how they topped it. We would pick one of the people who replied and give them a gift card to get the food de jour. It got massive response and those same people who were participating in TOP IT TUESDAY started responding to other postings on our page.
Why did it work? Well, first, food always works if you know what kind to pick. Chipotle is a hot pick and pizza is a college food diet staple. Run the Ice Cream on really hot days and you’ll get a response, but do it in the middle of winter, I’m not thinking it’s going to work so well for you. Second, pick restaurants local to your area, I know I used Chipotle (and that’s just because I LOVE LOVE LOVE it) but you may want to focus your efforts to a more local merchant because they are going to be way stoked that you’re willing to promote them. Think about it – if all day on your FB feed people were talking about what kind of pizza they wanted, by about 5 pm, you’re going to be craving some pizza. This logic gives you a good shot at not only getting the partnership, but also getting the gift cards donated (costing you nothing but time!). Third, the reason the engagement carries over is due to the idea of unpredictable rewards. Having a weekly sweepstakes is great, as it sets a standard, but you also want to pepper the content of your page with other little give-aways at random to encourage people to not push that “HIDE FEED” button. It’s the same reason we never post our vacant units and prices, or links to our Craigslist postings. Your page is there for the residents, so give them the content they want!