There is an increasing number of Millennials moving out and Baby Boomers downsizing who are driving multifamily housing demand. So, if you’re wondering how you can attract these demographics to your property, the answer is your online reputation. Everyone from Gen Z through Baby Boomers check social media and review sites.

Your online reputation is your brand. This is a critical piece to your business, so you need to have a strong focus on reputation management and develop a strategy. The brand-reputation relationship is greatly influenced by your online presence, particularly by online reviews. In fact, a staggering 83 percent of buyers no longer trust traditional advertising, while 78 percent trust recommendations from their online peers. This is why earned media is so important.

The weight of positive online reviews is more than just a favorable status, five-star rating, or improved Search Engine Results Page listing. Online reviews play an important role in your future renters’ customer journey. According to an Apartment Ratings Visitor Study:

  • 64 percent of prospects rely on reviews in the beginning to reduce their initial property list.
  • 16 percent of prospects use reviews to see what current residents are saying, and either bookmark the apartment or continue looking.
  • 20 percent of prospects use reviews to either confirm suspicions they might have after viewing the apartment themselves and to make a final decision.

Your online reviews can also play into your pricing by driving demand. The higher the star rating, the higher rents you can charge. It is critical to treat reviews like the valuable asset they are.

Best Practices for Reputation Management

Neither your brand or your online reputation are static marketing pillars that can or should be introduced and then left to their own devices. Treat your brand-reputation relationship as an active, dependent, and worthy campaign-driver. Actively managing this relationship allows you to understand how it exhibits and earns value. With a reputation strategy, you can leverage the value of your brand and community, increase rents, and further improve your online presence and ranking.

Respond to All Reviews

Positive reviews need to be celebrated, encouraged, and shared. Generally, 52 percent of consumers expect a response to their comment within days. Be prompt in responding! Always begin by thanking the customer and acknowledging their kind review. Being specific doesn’t hurt, especially if they can tell you actually took the time to read it, rather than copying and pasting a generic response.  

Negative reviews give you opportunities to show management’s willingness to adapt, make changes as necessary, and ask for a second chance. Inviting an open dialogue with residents builds your reputation as a trustworthy community with professional staff. First things first, do not ignore the negative review. 30 percent of customers who received a response to their negative review later turned around and changed it to a positive one. Respond appropriately, and don’t forget your ideal audience is just beyond the initial commenter. Going back and forth with an unhappy customer is distasteful and draws attention; instead, invite the conversation offline and provide them with contact information if it starts to get out of hand. Say only what is absolutely needed, and truly make it “short and sweet”. Being quick and polite shows the customer your willingness to take responsibility and work towards a better experience for all.

Establish a Response Strategy

Establish a review and response strategy that builds value. Empower your team to respond at location level with a reputation and social management platform that offers scalability.

Consumers read fewer than 10 reviews per location — that means you need to constantly stay on top of what people are saying about your locations by monitoring all of your incoming reviews –every site, every location. By monitoring all of your incoming reviews, you then have the opportunity to pinpoint and handle any potentially damaging reviews before they have the opportunity to become a recurring or repetitive problem.

Be Authentic

Your responses need to be true and authentic. You can’t respond with a canned response for customers to just contact the leasing office for help. You need to show other prospects what you’re going to do to rectify the issue. It also tells the public just how valuable your apartments and community are to residents. Consumers know what’s real and what’s not. If you try to fool them, you will discredit yourself.

Online reviews carry the weight and influence of word-of-mouth marketing and are one of the fastest and most trusted ways for residents to decide where to rent. Take charge of your review site listing by closely monitoring new reviews and photo uploads, responding to positive and negative reviews, and showing that you are willing to take responsibility for your community through proactive engagement and follow-through.

Knowing how to manage and leverage your reputation is a proven way to simultaneously decrease turnover and increase demand for your community.

Manage Your Reviews at Scale

With a growing portfolio, it can feel daunting to manage all of the review sites for your properties. But it doesn’t have to be. With a scalable solution, you can actively manage your reputation, monitor competitors, and know what’s being said about you, without you. To learn more, check out our Technical Deep Dive: Reputation and Social Management webinar.