CHICAGO, IL - Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking websites and blogs, according to research released from The Nielsen Company. This is a 43 percent increase up from just a year ago. Given this rapidly growing audience of social media users, Apartments.com surveyed nearly 850 of its national website visitors to find out how active they are with social media, how it affects their apartment search and where they choose to live. The survey results revealed 71 percent of Apartments.com visitors are active on social media, but only a quarter use it during their apartment search. Additionally, less than 10 percent of those respondents are connecting with their current apartment community via social media.
While the majority of renters indicated they are not checking out social media websites to find a place to live, this does not mean renter search behavior online is not trending toward this direction. Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents who said they do not use social media during their apartment search indicated they would either consider using it or are on the fence.
Like most savvy shoppers, renters consult multiple online sources before choosing where to live. Of the 71 percent of apartment hunters already active with social media, obtaining supplemental information including recommendations, visuals and special offers topped the reasons they tap these websites during their apartment search. These survey respondents ranked the top five benefits of using social media during their apartment search as:
Finding additional apartment community information and recommendations (58.1%)
Seeking photos and videos of apartments (54.7%)
Searching for apartment listings (52.7%)
Hunting for special incentives and offers (46.8%)
Sharing apartment information with friends and seeking feedback (20.7%)
In addition to the absence of social media during the apartment search, more than 90 percent of survey respondents said they are not connected to their apartment community on any social media website. Reasons for why this number seems high can be attributed to the lack of apartment communities participating in the social media space, or not getting the word out to residents, and the growing number of new renters hitting the market. Nearly half of all respondents said either their apartment community does not have a social media presence or they simply do not know. More than 40 percent of survey respondents said they do not currently live at an apartment community.
"As social media continues to evolve online communications, we believe more apartment communities will follow suit and become more visible in this space," said Chris Brown, vice president product management at Apartments.com. "Residents will likely be receptive to interacting with their apartment communities in this way, especially if the content is meaningful. Our survey tells us that residents want to connect with their apartment community through social media to receive special offers, gain access to other residents and to keep current on community news and events."
While nearly two thirds of all survey respondents said they are social media users, most are only active on Facebook® (2). Nearly 35 percent indicated they check Facebook as often as every couple of hours and 32 percent visit at least once a day. This is a sharp contrast compared to activity on other social media websites. On average, more than 65 percent of survey respondents have never logged on to Yelp! or Foursquare and more than half have never visited Twitter or MySpace.
Apartment shoppers who would like to bring the full apartment search experience to Facebook are encouraged to visit the ApartmentHomeLiving.com page (http://www.facebook.com/FindAFunPlace) and click the "Find a Place" tab to begin their social apartment search. Without leaving Facebook, apartment hunters can shop for a place to live from millions of apartments nationwide while sharing the details of their search with their social network for feedback they can trust.