5 Million Mark: A Measure of Skyrocketing Ecommerce Industry

In some ways, 5 million represents the perfect storm.

While package delivery continues to increase exponentially in the ecommerce market, Package Concierge® has tirelessly aimed to keep a steady pace by installing innovative package lockers in as many locales as possible.

In Spring 2016, we surpassed the 2-million mark in package transactions. At the time, it signified a hefty achievement. But as consumers continue to gravitate to online shopping and nationwide demand for package solutions rises accordingly, we’ve experienced more than a 200-percent spike in package lockers installations.

With that, the number of package transactions has quickly ascended to 5 million.

5 million

To be clear, the 5 million figure isn’t something we’re thumping our chest about. In our eyes, the number more represents the thriving ecommerce industry and the suddenness of it. This hasn’t been a gradual rise – it has been meteoric. There is a reason why businesses are closing brick-and-mortar stores but continue to thrive overall. It’s because their merchandise is being ordered through a few clicks online, and consumers are utilizing package delivery at ultra-historic rates.

Ecommerce Increase Means More Deliveries

Internet sales accounted for a mere 3 percent of consumer expenditure as a whole in 2006. That number rose to 15.5 in 2016 according to Business 2 Community, and the U.S. is at the forefront of this global movement. Ecommerce is a $220 billion market in the U.S. and has grown at annual rate of 17 percent over the past decade.  This figure is likely to increase even more with Walmart’s recent announcement that is it offering free two-day shipping.

The trend within the trend is that consumers are not only shopping online, but increasingly doing so through mobile devices. Experts predict that mobile transactions (those conducted through smartphones and tablets) will account for 26 percent of retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. by the end of 2017.  This figure is likely to increase even more with Walmart’s recent announcement that it is offering free two-day shipping.

What to expect?

Packages are being delivered at such a fervent pace that Amazon is unveiling its own delivery service. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that ecommerce growth played a key role in 3.2-percent profit growth for the United Parcel Service. Naturally, Amazon’s decision to utilize its own deliverers could put a dent in overall numbers for UPS, FedEx and USPS. But no matter the method in which they are shipped, the packages will continue to arrive.

Looking to the Future

Along with the demand, residents are expecting to receive their packages in a convenient, hassle-free manner. That’s why we believe it is important to parallel the growth of ecommerce with solutions that fit.

Perhaps in six months or a year, we’ll view our 5 million package transaction as obsolete, as antiquated as the dial-up modem. But for now, the figure holds some clout when looking at ecommerce as a whole.

5 million.

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15 Apartment Living Essentials

Apartment Living Essentials

Apartment Living Essentials

While it’s still scorching outside, summer is giving way to fall and for many, it’s moving time! From normal moves into new communities to students gearing up for the upcoming semester, prepare to see moving trucks soon. Moving can be a difficult, timely and stressful event even for the most experienced. Without fail, you’ll reach a point where you’re asking yourself “Where did I put ______?” or “Do I have _____?” You may not even realize you need something after throwing it away during the process. So, we made a list of the top 15 apartment living essentials, along with a brief explanation just in case you don’t see the whole picture. You may not even be moving, but this list serves all apartment residents.

  • Trash bags – Definitely number one on our apartment living essentials list. Ever run out of these and had to make a late night run to combat overflowing garbage? It’s not fun, so always have a surplus!
  • Proper Bedding – We’re going to assume you already have a bed here, but good bedding goes a long way. Nice sheets, a comforter, pillows, etc. We also recommend having two different sets; one on the bed and the other cleaned and stored away. You never know when a loved one may need to spend a night.
  • Towels – There’s no such thing as too many towels. If it requires absorption, towels can save the day.
  • Basic Utensils – We’re not living in the Stone Age so cutlery and kitchen utensils are a must. Even if you don’t cook, don’t assume the delivery guy has a plethora of sporks to hand out!
  • Emergency Supplies – Keep a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries and candles in your apartment for an unlikely emergency. You’ll find comfort in knowing you’re prepared during a power outage or dinner prep gone bad.
  • Furniture – Another obvious one but a nice couch, table, chairs and coffee table can transform an apartment. Also, who wants to spend time in an apartment with just a bed? You might creep your friends out too. Clean and functional furniture doesn’t have to be expensive. Crates do NOT count as chairs!
  • Good Blinds or Drapes – Not all, but some apartments don’t have either of these when moving in. Even if you do have blinds or drapes, a good set can be serious savings on electricity. Look at what makes sense but the darker they can make your apartment, the more money you save on utilities.
  • Lamps – Sometimes overhead lighting in an apartment is lackluster or even nonexistent! Cheap floor lamps will do the trick to keep you out of the dark.
  • Electrical Accessories – It’s better have too much than not enough when it comes to these items. We’re talking about power strips, extension cords or device chargers etc. You’ll kick yourself if you’re one inch from the wall outlet or if a power surge ruins your coffee machine.
  • Toilet Paper – We aren’t going into detail on this one. Buy in bulk!
  • Artwork – Like furniture, nice artwork can brighten up a room and help set a tone. It doesn’t have to be costly either; some framed posters of famous art can do the trick. If you’re feeling more adventurous, go to flea markets and garage sales for cheap and one of a kind piece.
  • Toolset – Even if it’s a cheap one, you’ll end up using it. How else are you going to hang your art around so your apartment doesn’t look like a hospital room? Make sure it has the most basic essentials: Flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers, hammer and pliers can work wonders.
  • Cleaning SuppliesKeep your apartment clean! Simple cleaning kits are available at most drugstores and supermarkets. A simple sponge and soap can make a huge difference.
  • Spare Set of Keys – This is the last one on our list but it’s essential. Make a spare set of your keys and give them to a loved one in case of emergency or you lock yourself out. Alternatively, hide them under a doormat or somewhere outside your door. Paying for a locksmith comes out of YOUR pocket and it’s an expensive mistake to make!

Your Apartment = Your Home

These 15 apartment living essentials will make your apartment a happy home. They seem like common sense but some can go unnoticed. It’s better to have them on hand instead of going out to get them one-by-one. You can even order these items straight from Amazon.com if you have time to spare. You may have some of these already, but take some time on your next shopping trip to round off the list. Doing so will keep your apartment and life in good shape!

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Budget for Amenities!

budget

A Budget Including Amenities Can Help You See and Save Green!

It’s that time of the year again: the preparation of next year’s budget for your community. Your budget is likely to cover a lot of different areas; from marketing and sales to staffing and screening. While these are necessary for the property to keep functioning, make sure to make room for amenities. Amenities can increase occupancy and drive increased revenues. It can also be used in your marketing efforts to generate leads. When budgeting for amenities, there are a few things you need to consider. If you follow these three steps, you’ll be good as gold!

Survey

The best amenity is a wanted amenity. A good way to gauge interest in a potential amenity before purchasing is to survey your community. What do they want? What amenity adds convenience for them? What’s going to make them want to renew their lease? You may think your community desperately needs a guinea pig playroom, but you better check first. An amenity collecting dust is a waste of money and isn’t generating ANY revenue.

ROI

Stemming off of the first point, when you figure out what amenity or amenities your community wants, it’s important to consider the ROI. You don’t want to commit to an amenity with a short lifecycle. You’re looking for an investment with long-term results. This can be challenging, especially when trends can come and go. Doing your due diligence through research will be vital to making sure your addition isn’t a dud. Find industry resources that can provide the data you’re looking for. Numbers don’t lie and they can be a great guide for keeping up with trends in multifamily!

Scout

Ok. You’ve listened to the community and you’re devastated about their lack of concern for the guinea pig playroom. You’ve also taken their suggestions and done some research on your own. Still hesitant about pulling the trigger on a certain amenity? Find a community that has what you’re looking for and go see it! For example, if you’ve been researching package lockers, find a community with a system. When you get there, ask to see the system, but also ask their opinion. Have the lockers made residents happier? Have they seen an ROI yet or expecting to? How do they work? Don’t hesitate to ask questions from an unbiased party before going into a sales process.

No one likes to budget. It’s time-consuming and can be difficult to stick to if problems should arise. But a proper budget can drive additional and recurring revenue if there’s room for an amenity. Then it’s just a matter of researching and selecting the amenity that will have the highest impact on ROI. Finally, go see it in action somewhere! An amenity can be just what your community needs to grow and thrive. Choose wisely and budget appropriately!

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Catch Residents with Pokémon Go!

Pokémon GoPokémon Go Can Help Multifamily

On July 6th, 2016, an event of monumental proportions happened: Pokémon Go was released. The game has already revolutionized mobile gaming and is uniting people across all generations. Niantic Inc. developed the game through a licensing deal with Nintendo, the majority stakeholder of the franchise. The deal has proven to be fruitful; Nintendo’s market value jumped an astounding $7.5 billion since release! The game is simple: “catch” Pokémon with your phone in different areas of cities and towns. The game is a based on “geolocation,” GPS locations and landmarks, so one has to walk around to progress through the game. There are “Pokestops” and “Gyms” where people can get rewards, play against other Pokémon and find new Pokémon. So why should you care? This can be a golden marketing opportunity for multifamily communities. You can actually drive potential residents to your property with the game!

Pokémon Go is a “free to play” style game. This means that one can play for free, but upgrades are purchasable through an online store. One of those items is a “Lure Module,” which draws Pokémon to a certain location for 30 minutes. They cost about 99 cents per lure. The lures need to be set within proximity of a Pokestop (currently). Your community may already be a Pokestop or Gym; you just need to check in the game. Super geeky, right? Well, businesses have caught on and are driving traffic to them because people playing see where lures are and stop to get the free items. So how can a multifamily community benefit?

Marketing With Pokémon Go

If you could set lures or Pokestops at and around your property, you have a lead generation tool at your fingertips. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic C.E.O. John Hanke said that “sponsored locations” are coming to Pokémon Go. When this becomes available, why not set Pokestops around key amenities on-site? The pool, the gym, the locker system, the clubhouse, etc.; the list goes on and on! While people of all ages are playing the game, Millennials are playing the game the most (it’s a nostalgia thing). You can put the word out on social media about having a “Pokémon Tour” around the property. When the event starts, have players provide their contact information and walk them around the property to the different stops. They get Pokémon while you’re showing off key amenities and layouts to potential residents! It’s a win/win for everyone!

What about a “Pokémon Go Mixer” for current residents? Provide food and drinks while setting up Pokestops around the property. Have residents team up in groups and send them around the property to collect their goods. This will encourage meeting new neighbors and friends. Right now, you can lead residents around the area and collect Pokémon and items. Pair this with your other marketing initiatives (are you live streaming yet?) and you’ll have current and future residents hooked.

Get Ahead of the Game

In conclusion, this is a huge opportunity to show off your community and gain some new faces. Pokémon Go is still very new and Niantic is working out the bugs and creating more features. The ideas above are just a few examples of how your multifamily community can capitalize on the excitement as new content and features are released. So go out there and “Catch ‘Em All”… residents that is!

To play and learn more, download Pokémon Go from the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.

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Future Proofing for Packages

future By Georgianna W. Oliver, Founder & CEO of Package Concierge

The Future Is Just Around The Corner.

To use a term I credit to Jennifer Coogan at Avalon Bay, “future proofing” your community is essential to assure you are not only meeting the resident demands of today but also preparing for future demands. Can you imagine your current holiday-season package rush becoming the year-round norm for your property?

Currently, one of our clients receives over 600 packages per day on one property. They currently have the package situation under control, but will it be enough in future years? Smaller properties with less than 250 units can probably handle the influx of packages more easily, as they currently average 40 package deliveries a day. But larger properties are more complicated and will require a more robust future proofing plan.

For the Package Concierge team, that means arming you with the innovations and technologies to manage the escalation of packages in the future. We accept the challenge of continually innovating our technology to address all of a community’s package-handling needs, now and in the future.

A Solution That Matters

Our high-quality lockers are designed to resist wear and tear. Our advancing technology handles all aspects of delivery and provides a secure method of communication between the locker system and residents. It also features the industry’s only mobile app.

We offer all the tools and reporting needed for the management of packages. Returns and shipping capabilities are coming soon as well. But, it is not enough. Today, we are addressing overflow options and developing a Package Concierge Smart RoomTM solution to meet the needs of tomorrow.

We understand package management solutions are more than locker systems or smart rooms. To that end, we are in constant communication with communities to improve our training for UPS, Fedex, and USPS carriers, discuss data management and advise about how to handle Uber and Lyft drivers showing up on-site to deliver more and more packages.

The solutions for handling packages will continue to evolve and so will the engineers at Package Concierge. We are working to stay ahead of the curve. You can count on that.

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Summer Move-In Success

Move

Warm Up To New Residents On Move-In Day

As we all know, summer is upon us. The season filled with barbeques, vacations and shorts is also known for something else: moving. According to moving and storage company U-Haul: “17 to 20 million people may move this summer” and “Nearly 45 percent of all moves occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day.” That’s a lot of people relocating during the warmest time of the year. Reasons vary on why many commit to a summertime move and many of them may be moving into your community. If this is the case, many in multifamily have an opportunity to make a good first impression. Just because a resident signed the lease doesn’t mean they feel comfortable and welcome in the community yet. We have a few ideas on how to break through this barrier to make a lasting impression.

  • Prepare the Property – If you’re about to see an influx of new residents, have the property ready. Will moving trucks be able to easily navigate once on site? Are there any obstructions in the hallways, breezeways or stairwells? Don’t forget that residents may have only seen the property a handful of times before moving in, so they may get confused. Is there any way to help this? These small fixes will make moving in a smoother experience for everyone. Even just being there to assure and answer questions will stand out to new residents.
  • Have Water Ready – Summer is hot. Moving heavy objects in the summer is even hotter. A great way to maintain the rapport you’ve established is to provide cold bottled water on move-in days. Think about it: new residents already feel the stresses of moving and this simple necessity may be overlooked. Your generosity can reinforce their decision to why they wanted to join the community in the first place. As we’ve always said, “A happy resident is a loyal resident.” There’s no reason why this can’t start over some H2O.
  • Summer Swag Bags – Before a resident begins to unload their belongings into their new home, they need to go inside it first. An awesome way to welcome them is to have a summer themed swag bag on the counter waiting for them. From some simple sunglasses to sunscreen, anything that can help the summer moving process is a good start. Not everything has to be summer oriented; throwing in a few essentials that can get overlooked work just as well. Coupons to local establishments are also a great incentive for residents. They can save money while exploring their new surroundings. The only restrictions on swag bags are budgets and imagination, but a little goes a long way! Check out sites like Pinterest for ideas.

Summer is a wonderful time of the year. But moving during it can potentially wear out a future resident. By taking the initiative to make the process slightly easier, you’ll be a hero! And there’s nothing wrong with sharing the move in excitement with social media either. Don’t get burned by summer moves; turn them into the best experience possible.

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Client Spotlight: The JBG Companies (Part 2)

The JBG Companies: Multifamily Done Right.

JBG

Welcome back to the second part of our two-part series spotlighting the JBG Companies. For part one, please check out last week’s blog.

Galvan at TwinbrookJBG

With its industrial-modern design, the Galvan at Twinbrook is a hub for urban energy. With direct access to Twinbrook Metro station and on-site Zipcar, getting around couldn’t be easier. If you need to stay close to home, get your groceries at the Safeway downstairs or go shopping at Ethan Allen. A Resort-style swimming pool with sun shelf, four landscaped courtyards, and a Package Concierge are just a few of the amenities. “Get In and Get It All” with the Galvan at Twinbrook.

Dominion Towers JBG

Overlooking the nation’s capital from Arlington VA, the Dominion Towers are close to everywhere you want to go. These newly renovated apartments offer views of the Army Navy Golf Course and surrounding monuments. With the recent update, Dominion Towers also took the time to boost their amenities. A Package Concierge, a convenience store on the terrace level, and enhanced landscaping offer make a life of leisure a reality. If Arlington is where you’re headed, the Dominion Tower Apartments is a community you need to see.

JBG

The TeranoJBG

The Terano is where urban convenience and nature’s serenity collide. Located around the corner from its sister community the Alaire and across the way from the Galvan, the Terano stands out on its own. The 8 two-level lofts with exposed brick wall and 20-foot ceilings is just one example. The amenities encourage the outdoors: an elevated pool, a pedestrian friendly environment, and on-site retail. But don’t worry, a Package Concierge will hold your deliveries until you get back. Look at the Terano for an upscale yet down to earth living experience.

Notch 8JBG

Experience luxury apartment living in Alexandria, VA with all the stops pulled out at Notch 8. Notch 8 doesn’t skimp on features; the apartments even have Nest learning thermostats! A Giant Food grocery store with Starbucks and PNC Bank on-site lets residents run their errands without leaving home. Amenities include a state of the art game room, amazing outdoor gathering spaces, and even a bike maintenance workbench with tools. To top off the list, a Package Concierge fits right into this tech savvy community. At Notch 8, life doesn’t stop when you come home, it picks up.

JBG

The JBG Companies know how to do multifamily for the next century. The properties we’ve covered in this series are just a few examples of how JBG challenges the extra ordinary and only settles for extraordinary. It’s been nothing but a pure thrill to take part in this ideology and we’re excited about the opportunities ahead for us both. Thank you for taking the time to read and who knows, maybe you just discovered your next community!

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Client Spotlight: The JBG Companies

The JBG Companies: Multifamily Done Right.

JBG Logo

Good partnerships are hard to come by. Since the beginning, we’ve been lucky to align ourselves with forward thinking organizations. These groups aren’t just leaders within multifamily, they’re true innovators. This year, we’ve made strides to showcase these partnerships through our “Client Spotlight” series. The series has displayed properties with Package Concierge systems and has received positive feedback. Today, we take it a step further and not only showcase a property but a series of properties under the same roof. In our first two-part series, we showcase the JBG Companies (JBG for short) a premier developer and a firm with eyes set to the future of our industry.

JBG has been changing the landscape of multifamily for over 50 years. Despite their growth and longevity, JBG hasn’t lost touch. If there’s an award one can win, JBG already has. They put communities first and display this mission on their website: “JBG believes that each development we undertake should enrich a community. We are dedicated to developing active, sustainable communities, advancing affordable housing and promoting public art.” Who wouldn’t want to team up with a company with these values? Our partnership with JBG has been a great experience and we look forward to our future together. So without further ado, here is part one of our spotlight.

The Gale EckingtonJBG Gale

Set in the thriving streets of D.C. the Gale is a central social hub, offering unparalleled access to the best of Eckington and NoMa. Its location lends itself well to walking, biking, and transit so nothing is far from reach. The amenities aren’t anything to balk at either; with a screening room, courtyard parks, and two pools, who says you have to leave for fun? And with an on-site Package Concierge, staying close to home couldn’t be easier. Check out the Gale Eckington for an exclusive D.C. experience.

JBG Gale

Kennedy RowJBG Kennedy Row

This newer community resides in one of America’s most historic neighborhoods. That being said, Kennedy Row claims the very first Package Concierge installation and has flawlessly served the community ever since. Being right in the middle of everywhere you’d want to be, you’re minutes away from it all. Metro access is right outside your door just in case your needs aren’t around the corner. Residents enjoy fulfilling amenities: an on-site fitness center, underground parking, and a Package Concierge. Sound like your next community? Jump over to their site to see just how quickly you can get around.

JBG

The AlaireJBG Alaire

Located in Rockville, M.D., the Alaire takes pride in their lifestyle services for every resident. On-site retail and dining is a huge asset to the Alaire since a day in D.C. can be exhausting! Key amenities are a Package Concierge, KICK fitness center, and electric vehicle charging stations. If you need to be in D.C. but the thought of living inside the city limits keeps you up at night, the Alaire is your answer.

JBG

Falkland ChaseJBG Falkland

Set in the lush vegetation of Silver Springs, M.D., Falkland Chase makes D.C. seem miles away. Shopping and entertainment are around the corner so residents seeking R&R can do so. Falkland Chase offers easy access to both Metro and the beltway, so getting around is easy! A well-equipped fitness center, a Package Concierge, and beautifully landscaped grounds make living easy and comfortable. If you’d like to live close to D.C. without realizing it, Falkland Chase is where it’s at.

JBG

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week for the conclusion of our two-part series covering the JBG Companies.

 

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What Makes An Amenity Awesome?

Amenity

An Amenity Today Means Residents Tomorrow.

The world of multifamily is competitive. With diverse communities duking it out for residents, location (while important) isn’t enough. That’s where amenities make all the difference. Amenities can be a true differentiator when a market is full of new communities. A pool and fitness room are industry standard now and let’s be honest, are these enough? Or would you rather live in a community with a pool, fitness room, and a rooftop cinema? We know the answer already. Amenities are subjective and communities need to provide amenities that cater to their demographic. So how does one determine if an amenity will make a difference? Here are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Increased Value for the Resident: An amenity may be a deciding factor in community selection for future residents. It just depends on what they place value in. Since rent prices are largely dictated by location, an amenity is an added value. A good metric to pay attention to is who’s living in the community. Will Millennials prefer a wine cellar or a high-tech social lounge? Know who your residents are and what they want; it’ll make a huge difference.
  • It Makes Life Easier: A good amenity is one that makes users question how they lived without it until now. Basic examples include laundry capabilities and on-site transportation services like Zipcar. Another great example of an amenity while transcending demographics are our Package Concierge systems. Everyone can’t always be home for a package delivery and our lockers hold the delivery until it’s ready for pickup. Not only does our package management solution work for all, it just makes sense.
  • Keep It Simple: Amenities don’t need to be elaborate. Sure, property managers across the country may be jealous of The Oosten, located in Brooklyn N.Y. and developed by Xin Development Group, for giving out a free trip to Europe to meet the building’s designer, but a little can go a long way too. In an NMHC survey conducted in conjunction with Kingsley Associates, 80% wanted secured community access. Is that so much to ask for? Electronic and keyless entry systems are affordable and a community maintenance team can install them. This is a simple upgrade and may be just the amenity needed to boost leases.

Amenities make all the difference. They’re the added incentive to those looking for a new community to call home. Check your local market to see what you’re up against. Go visit other communities with the amenities you’re interested in incorporating into your own. If an amenity is within the realm of possibility and it suits the community’s demographic, go for it! You can even reach out to your current residents and ask them for suggestions. However you decide to do it, go out and get the game-changing amenity!

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How to Make Your Community More Social

Make Community SocialBecause a Community CAN Stick Together!

In today’s world of thriving technology, it’s hard to peel a cell phone out of someone’s fingers. It’s even harder to get them logged out of their preferred social media platform. With over 2.3 billion active social media users around the world, it can be hard to find others wanting to spend time in person. The scenario presents a catch-22: being social without actually being social. This can prove to be a problem in multifamily communities, where residents can be shy living amongst strangers. Luckily, we have a few tips that can help residents meet new friends within the community. Think about it: it will be hard to move out if all their friends live next door!

  • Community Layout – A building’s architecture can’t change, but certain features can. Does the game room have a billiard table? Can residents get coffee on site, and if so, is it in a high foot traffic area? When strategically placed, these examples can turn into social beacons for residents. These small changes can have a huge impact; common interests are the key to a fruitful friendship.
  • On-Site Events – Want to get your community together in the same place? You may want to consider throwing a monthly event. No, not the hotdog and hamburger socials we’ve had since middle school. Think something upscale like a mixer. You can turn things up a notch with cocktails and formal attire (age restrictions apply). If the property can accommodate, maybe community movie nights during the summer would be a good fit. You may even have a small theater already on site; use it to your advantage.
  • Social Media – We know what you’re thinking, but let us explain. Social media (social media monitoring in particular) can be a great way to engage in conversations with residents. Get in on the conversations your residents and market are having. You can even use social media to rally residents together to discuss upcoming developments. What can be better? What can make your lives easier? These are great questions to ask residents and they’ll feel appreciated. They’ll even come together with feedback, which is what every successful community needs. Focus your efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Since the release of Instagram’s video feature, Vine has started to become barren.

Making your community more social doesn’t have to be scary. All it takes is a bit of creativity and initiative to transform our community into a bunch of socialites.  They just need someone to lead the charge for them. By creating an environment where social interaction takes place, happy residents will have a hard time leaving the friends they’ve made. It’s unpredictable where one will meet a new friend, but you can make a few educated guesses on where it can happen!

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