Facebook’s Impact on Multifamily Part III- Engagement or Participation?

The Golden Fleece for most of us on our Facebook pages is interaction of some sort. It shows that what you post is of value to your page members and it gives you a sense of accomplishment for your efforts. There has been a lot of semantics over whether its engagement or participation though?  Which word offers the clearest definition?

I had the chance to finish reading the Brains on Fire book while I was away and they brought this same topic up. Many of their points helped me with a clearer definition for myself. We all start out with participation in one way or another. People will “Like” our posts or even provide a comment or two. That is indeed participation. Engagement takes things to the next level. Engagement to me is91910748 200x300 Facebook’s Impact on Multifamily Part III  Engagement or Participation? where that participation channels out to offline measures or spins into different conversations on other platforms. Your Facebook page is a conversation tool. It can be a meeting room so to speak. The challenge is to work hard enough and be consistent enough in order for those conversations to go from participation to engagement.

How can this apply to apartment communities?  I had the opportunity to be at Optimization Summits last year and listen to Geno Church from Brains on Fire speak.  When I asked Geno Church how is seminar on how people are the killer app would apply to our industry, he simply said it should be easier since we are dealing with people. In Geno’s words it has been and always will be about the people we deal with. Once that rings true with us then it becomes an easier path from participation to engagement.

So what practical items can we focus on? Find your brand advocates. Focus on those who participate regularly on your page and feature them in some way. Look for those who have a voice and make it louder for them. Talk less about yourself and more about your residents. How cool would it be to hear offline from one of your residents: “Did you see the conversation we had last night on Facebook about such and such?” As the Brains on Fire book highlighted, the vast majority of the conversation about your community is happening offline. It’s a fact. However you can bridge the gap between offline and online conversations if you treat the online conversation exactly as you would in an offline format. If you have something interesting to share, do not just post it; tell us why it is of value.

Some of these tips you probably have heard before since there are a lot of great examples of communities who do a great job at this already. The sky is the limit with your Facebook page. The amount you put into your page will be tantamount to the results you will see. Not only that but the amount of effort offline you put into your community will really tell the story on how well your Facebook page will work and become a tool to bring your community together.

This can be a touchy subject of semantics over words but I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Do you think it is important to have a long term goals with your page? Is there really a difference between participation and engagement? Please share any of your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Written by Jonathan Saar


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  • Anonymous

    Jonathan, Great post, however I believe it to be a Pie in the Sky Pipe-Dream that residents are or will be talking it up on an apartment communities facebook wall anytime soon, for a variety of reasons. While I wish that were true, I have yet to see any examples of that, other than a comment here and there. Do you know of any examples of this happening with any apartment communities facebook page?

    I do not believe we should banter over words, but look for ways to effectively entice any type of conversations, engagement or participation. I believe the answer lies in creating a Circle of Influence, which is a much larger community than just your residents.

  • http://www.thetrainingfactor.com/ Jonathan Saar

    I agree Eric. In my previous posts in this series I highlighted the need to work with your community at large as opposed to the one you manage. I am a big fan of doing what it takes to drive the offline conversations no matter what. For most people jumping into the Facebook world there are always question marks as to what or how using the tool should be approached. At a class I taught back in February there were a couple of light bulb moments with some who saw the people connection versus the platform connection. Facebook could be gone tomorrow. I am hoping this post provides some thoughts on a more long term approach. I guess we will see :) Thanks for sharing your insights. I appreciate them.