By Sarah Douglas, Senior Search Optimize
Marketing has changed. When it comes to traditional media channels, like print advertising and television ads, you still control the communication. But in the word-of-mouth dominated online world, it's your current and past residents who hold the power to sway potential renters. Neglect the online conversation, and your reputation could suffer. Here are a few simple ways to take some of that influential power back and set the online tone for your community:
Search for Your Property
This may seem obvious, but many apartment communities overlook the multitude of online channels people regularly use to rant or rave about their experiences. Besides searching for your branded name in the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, you should also be using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to keep tabs on your reputation. Taking steps against negative posts, when appropriate, is key – most services have policies against abuse. Keep in mind that 58% of searchers will visit a competitor's site after viewing negative search results. (Stats from OutspokenMedia.com)
Set Up Google Alerts
Google offers a free service to monitor topics of your choosing as new content becomes available online. This can be a valuable tool for apartment community managers and owners to keep tabs on what is being associated with your brand online. Simply go to http://www.google.com/alerts and enter in your community's branded name as the search terms, selecting how often you'd like to receive notifications and how many results you'd like to see.
Read and Respond to Online Reviews
You can't afford to ignore online reviews. Reviews have an immense amount of influence on your potential residents. 90% of consumers trust reviews and recommendations from other consumers. Many review sites, like Google, will allow you to respond directly to a review. For these sites, you should be responding to both negative and positive reviews. Thanking a resident for praise or acknowledging shortcomings in a public forum is important for establishing a genuine rapport with your residents - including future ones. For sites that do not allow a direct response, you may be able to send a private message to the poster of the review. If you’re responding to a negative review, addressing the concerns or complaints to the satisfaction of the poster can often result in the negative review being rewritten or removed at your request. A few sites you should be checking for reviews include: Yelp, RentWiki, ApartmentRatings, CitySearch and Google Places.
Establish Your Presence Online
Unlike the early days of the internet, your work does not end with creating a website for your community. Consider creating a Twitter account, Facebook page, and YouTube account. Posting your own content on these sites will help turn the tide in the search results, increasing the likelihood that positive information about your apartments will be shown.