How to use social media when angry residents post negative comments and feedback.
I recently attended the 2012 Multifamily Executive Conference, where I attended a panel on the importance of social media in multifamily housing. The value of social media is more than how many new leases it accounts for; instead, property owners and marketers should use it for its immense customer service ability.
Most rental property owners realize the value of having an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare—the works—but most don't understand how it can help improve a property's current customer service communication. More people are choosing to resort to the Internet to publicly announce their pleasure or dislike for a company and share their opinions with friends. Rental properties are not immune, nor should the property owners brush this trend off as a short-lived result of the digital culture.
"If a conversation is going on about your brand, it's likely going on right now online," social media strategist Crystal Washington said in a Multifamily Executive article. "And if you're not there to hear it, there's nothing you can do about it."
3 ways to use social media to uphold a property's reputation
It's hard enough to manage a property's reputation when it's doing well, but it's even more difficult to try to better the reputation after it's been damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately, there is no honest way to silence all the critics (we'll talk about that later), but there are three ways to uphold or improve a property's credit through social media.
1. Keep track of what is being said and who's saying it. It's no easy task to monitor every single comment about a property on every single social media channel, but it doesn't hurt to try. Even if the property operator and marketer are the same person with no other employees to assist the promotion efforts, it doesn't take too much time to get started on reputation management. Set up a Google Alert and monitor what people are saying about the property - both positive and negative. Spending a small amount of time each day searching on social networking sites can prevent an angry resident's online comments from having a snowball effect in the future.
2. Don't stay silent. Even though most people are taught growing up to let negativity roll off their skin, that isn't the case with customer service or marketing. Instead of ignoring negative comments and/or conversations, address each person and ask how you can help. Is there anything that can be done to better their experience?
3. Follow up every single time. Simply addressing unhappy customers isn't enough, and it's equally important to follow up. Within a few business days, check back with the person and ask if the problem has been remedied. If not, work closely with the residents to find a solution. You never know - they may decide to use social media to tell people how happy they are with the property's customer service!
As tempting as it is to simply delete the property's negative feedback or comments, it's best to refrain. If potential residents suspect that negative comments are automatically deleted, it may cause them to think the property operator or marketer is trying to hide something. In this case, it's best to let prospects actually see comments from unhappy residents, as well as the timely customer service solution.
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