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UKAA Roundtable: Social Media & Leasing presented by James Biley

Wednesday 20th March 2019

As social media takes over the world we have to find ways to utilise this powerful tool for BTR. Winckworth Sherwood LLP kindly hosted a roundtable presented by James Biley covering social media and leasing.


  • Project overview / introduction – Cargo Building, Liverpool
  • Social media channels used
  • Successes and challenges feedback, including lessons learnt and unexpected consequences
  • Demographic context

General discussion:

  • Social media channels generally
  • Audiences
  • Connection with Local Businesses

Roundtable Recap

Social media has brought a change to the world that has taken customer engagement to a new dimension. With Build To Rent still somewhat in its infancy, it was fascinating to hear and learn how the Cargo Building in Liverpool was able to utilise the powers of social media to build its appeal and boost interest in the development amongst potential renters. The campaign was headed up by James Biley, who was able to deliver this insightful roundtable.

With a background in Marketing and PR James Biley was tasked with running the social media campaign for the Cargo Building last year.

James started his career working for one of London’s top TV and film post production and facilities house in Soho before moving into advertising where he worked for a services and software company in Mayfair who empower the world’s largest brands, agencies and media sellers.  Both companies provided him with a valuable insight into the power of a single brand, visualisation, customer experience, marketing and promotion. After moving into the property industry and joining the marketing team at Countrywide, The Cargo Building project gave James the perfect platform to unleash his creativity.


What platforms were used?

As buildings are visual they make a perfect subject to promote via its perceivable appeal. The Cargo Building used Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as its main social media platforms. Unique content was posted across each platform, giving each audience relevant, new information.

Why use social media

Social media posts can get the attention of influencers and bloggers who may present the opportunity for free advertisement.

Creating a dedicated # for the building name allows for so much engagement across all platforms which can be measurable and allows residents to share stories. A representative from Deverell Smith challenged Biley as to why the developer/ owners were not mentioned at all throughout the Cargo Building campaign. Biley explained the developer/ owners chose to market the building as the brand, rather than the company. He told the roundtable of his experience of user behavior in people wanting to follow and brand, rather than a company. People seem more interested in seeing and understanding a consumer facing brand.

A representative from ETG Consulting asked the question of fees, responsibility and training for those in the social media role. Biley was able to explain that most campaigns can be carried out successfully at no cost or with on a very low budget. Ideally a team (could be as small as 2 people) should be able to dedicate to posting and monitoring feedback. Any feedback must be addressed immediately, especially negative comments within a 2-hour period. It is also important to show authenticity so being able to be based at the actual location, posting live updates, commenting on current affairs, local events or the current weather will show there is a real person behind the brand.

A representative from JLL asked the question about paid social media campaigns. James Biley was able to advise that paid Facebook campaigns work better than paid Instagram and Twitter.

The local community 

A represented from Way of Life enquired about how to create a strategy for a new account. Biley highlighted the importance of showing consideration and support for a local business which can be essential in building a new account, prompting a ‘follow back’.

It is important to think of who your development may be disrupting, this could be through your construction, noise levels and time of operation etc. Posting notifications about this or being sympathetic will soften the impact the business feels.

The Cargo Building was able to strike up a good relationship with many local businesses. Creating a social media dialogue with a local yoga studio, allowed the Cargo Building to reach alternative audiences associated with mindfulness and tranquility which is a lifestyle many people seek these days. The yoga studio offered residents discounts creating a partnership with the residents. This became one of the added benefits of becoming a resident, a relationship built over social media. The Cargo Building was even seeing re-tweets from local pubs and coffee shops creating a community communication feed. Many of the local business were used for launch parties and marketing events furthering the authenticity of their relationship.


Capture your audience

The main aim of any social media campaign is to engage people who may want to live in your development.  Early engagement with potential customers should provide them with a journey to follow,  increasing a desire to live in the building.

The Cargo Building got engagement from prospective renters at the point of expressing their interest and wanting to make viewing appointments. Later people were reacting to their viewing experience and taking to social media to boast when they became a resident.

Cross referencing your new followers to your enquiry list will help gauge where the interest came from.


Click here to view the Cargo Building Instagram page

When people are taking pictures these days, they are considering if it is sharable. When designing any space, try to make it ‘instagrammable’, something visual including branding that can be shared. Instagram is flooded by perfect poised pictures of people and scenery, ensuing you have professional pictures of your development will attract views, positive comments and shares. You can see from the feed that there was a story being told of the development. When starting a campaign, you should consider what story you are trying to create.

This platform could also be used to communicate any issues with the development including why particular stages in the development are not running to time. This creates promotion and updates for the development.

The Cargo Building made a simple, laminated sign which became the Instagram sign, photographed with people with the trending #.


Click here to view the Cargo Building FB page

Creating a Facebook account increases your appearance in google searches and helps your brand names rank higher, creating geo tags will also help with ranking.


Click here to view the Cargo Building twitter page

When using twitter to market a development, it is best practice to create a new channel and not use the generic company account.


We live in a very social media savvy world. Everyone is looking for a new campaign or # to post on.

The Cargo Building have learnt how essential it is to build early relationships through engagement on social media. A representative from Fresh PG asked about measuring engagement rates and benchmarking, Biley confessed there was no benchmarking, this was because the owners had never done such a campaign before. Engagement rates are much more important than followers.

Bring your building to life using social media and a personal touch. Most people are still using portals such as Zoopla or HomeViews to gain an insight on a development, however by creating a social media footprint for the development if allows customers to see the story told by you, locals, potential and existing renters.

It is important not to duplicate your content across platforms as followers will be seeing the same things multiple times. You must determine which platform will be used to communicate and target different audiences through different messaging. All platforms should have posts that are relevant and different giving followers a reason to follow you on different platforms.

People will always say something negative, however if this is not done on social media then you are not able to respond to the negative comment. Responding without the 2 hours window is acceptable. Social media provides us the opportunity to turn negative views around. This is particularly important if the person commenting has a huge following. Tagging products in pictures will also allow you to reach a wider audience.

Creating a lifestyle brand through the # and using all your social media channels is invaluable and a crucial part of marketing strategy a new building in todays’ digital world.  Always feature your social media handles in your collateral keeping the look simple, just use social media symbols and leave out ‘www’ on web address.

Social media is 24/7 and its reach is massive. Dedicating the people and time to using this in marketing a new development could really pay off.

Due to the success of this event, the roundtable will be repeated, in Liverpool at the Cargo Building itself. Watch out for the date to be announced

If you are a UKAA member and was unable to attend but would like to view the slides, please email info@ukaa.org.uk.

For more information on roundtables to be held please visit our Events Page.