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Navigating Your Online Presence in the Multifamily Housing Industry


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This presentation was presented at the Harbor Group Managers' Meeting on 1-26-12. …

This presentation was presented at the Harbor Group Managers' Meeting on 1-26-12.

Session Description: The social web is constantly changing, uploading, sharing and ranting-about your brand. Who is talking? Who is listening? What are consumes saying? What are you saying in response? Are you taking action? Conversation and content are always encouraged, but the reality is that not all content is beneficial for the apartment community. Find out how these conversations on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and can be used to gain insight and take action. This session will address the latest strategic insights in public relations, integrated communications, management, planning, relationship, reputation, branding, social media, sustainability, and other emerging opportunities.

Attendees walked away with a crash course in PR Damage Control 101 as well as the tools that allow you to react in a confident and timely manner when confrontation occurs.

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  • Your online reputation is defined by all (visible) content available about your company, its products/services, employees, partners, affiliates, clients and suppliers.Earned media (be it negative, neutral or positive) is more trusted by consumers/candidates/partners by far, meaning it is important to monitor what is being said on the web and to work on these touchpoints.Your online reputation has to be built over a long term process and not a one-shot campaign strategy. Today we’re going to discuss the reality of a crisis gone viral and what tools you can put to use in order to turn a negative situation into a opportunity to create better brand awareness.
  • Today, we’ll discuss:- What your reputation is to you and who ultimately has ownership We’ll touch on the implications of an unaddressed crisis and how that affects your reputation We’ll introduce a reputation management plan applicable to your situation What your reputation management plan should includeWe will share some tools with you that you can use to listen to what is being said about your brand various scenarios you may be able to apply to your property and quick suggestions you can execute today
  • We know most of you are savvy with social. It’s always great to be ahead of the curve in terms of awareness and adoption. It’s as equally important to pick up relevant tips when it comes to new media tools, brands, behaviors, and attitudes. That’s why at FRMS, we are all about sharing our knowledge base with you as, the Expert Customer. We are constantly updating our existing features with the Marketplace Network product and rolling out new enhancements to better your user experience. It’s very important to recognize past and current trends to know how to use them in the future. Which leads me to the topic in explaining why it’s almost crucial to begin implementing an in-house social media audit if you haven’t done so already.
  • Your reputation is a part of your identity. It’s what people are saying about you. It’s the first impression people get which means it’s critical that it’s accurate.
  • On the road to managing and safeguarding your reputation, it’s good to know some of the roadblocks that could potentially keep you from achievement. Let’s talk about some of the major obstacles and the consequences that can occur if they are not dealt with. There are some differences between Word of Mouth and Word of Mouse also known as WOM. Social media is extremely traceable and travels by word of mouth and word of mouse. A statistic from Socialnomics reports that a whopping 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and 70%of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online.What does this mean? It doesn’t matter what you say about you! It matters what the public opinion says about you. Today, the majority of public opinions are shared in online forums, twitter feeds, blog comments and you guessed it, Facebook posts. This means your reputation is always one click away from getting a positive or negative review.
  • Your online reputation is one of your biggest assets. In this digital age, damage control and crisis management is not optional, it’s essential!
  • A viral crisis is any event big or small that threatens brand integrity, evolves extremely quickly and will continue into a snowball effect if not stopped. Imagine a renter bothered about the consistent late-night noise down the hall posts a complaint on your Facebook wall. Due to the busyness of the day, you fail to respond to the post in a timely manner. This window of time allows the post to remain unanswered, in plain view for anyone to see. As a result, it’s possible renters with the same opinion points will suddenly find a voice and jump on the band wagon, leaving you with an even bigger mess to clean up.
  • According to the Altimeter Group, social media crises are on the rise, but 76% of those that occurred since 2001 could have been diminished or averted altogether with the proper social media management.
  • So imagine that you’re logging in to your computer one morning, checking e-mail and drinking that first cup of coffee. And there it is, a terrible review pops up in ApartmentRatings.comfor your apartment. How do you handle it? Hopefully you have a plan in place to tackle the bad review and make the impact on your prospects minimal. Having a plan is great, but being able to jump to the challenge and put your plan into action at a moment’s notice is the key to making sure negative press results have minimal impact on your business.
  • An organization with a customer-centric approach is a huge challenge to create but provides a coherent customer experience.
  • Have a ‘plug and play’ platform where you brainstorm possible crises that could occur with your property’s Facebook page so you can react in a timely manner when in fact it does occur. Play out these scenarios to help you build canned responses.Educate you staff internally. Implement an employee policyEnsure factors that make up your brand integrity are balanced Find and address the negative influencer
  • Development of corporate policies, with particular emphasis on those relating to social media participation is important which we have touched on before in past webinars. It is also important to define the rules of engagement to be followed to help guide your organizations response to threats. By building in a defined set of response procedures, it is possible to minimizethe amount of damage that a social media crisis can inflict.Questions that need to be addressed are:-When are your employees ‘your’ employees?-Are you responsible for their actions when they are “on the clock”? -Are you responsible for their actions when they are on their own time? -Consider your audience and be authentic-Remember to protect proprietary and confidential information
  • Consistent evaluation of these four variables are essential for a healthy balance. If you as a property believe in prompt waste management, express to your renters that trash pickup is on Wednesdays and make sure that the truck is making the rounds on Wednesdays!! Integrity increases credibility, keeps renters happy and gives them little room to complain!
  • Facebook is all about conversation. It’s necessary to immerse yourself in it to keep afloat and to stay relevant. Comment Guidelines sets the boundaries for acceptable behavior on the company’s Facebook page. Know what the media, competitors, employees and residents are saying about you and track the content of the conversation to gauge success. It’s good to respond to the three inevitable types of conversation:Apartment community questions, resident complaints and complimentsSome things to consider: Will you reject comments which include offensive or inappropriate language?Will you allow personal attacks? In an ideal world you might allow people to question or argue your company’s content – after all, this medium is about conversation. However as we all know, this isn’t an ideal world. Even if you do allow criticism, consider outlawing aggressive attacks. – On-topic comments: What will you do with comments that veer away from the topic of the post or other peoples’ comments? Will you allow comments that appear to be spam? Will you take action against repeat offenders? Will you provide a way for commenters to contact someone if their comment is not approved, or if they have other questions?
  • At the end of the presentation, we’ll share the link to Coca-Cola House Rules link that tells commenters what and what not to say.
  • Remember to always follow fair housing guidelines. -Show diversity in your photos-Ask permission before posting any photos of residents (have them sign a model release)-Don't profile based on what you see on a resident or potential resident's Facebook profileRemember that you have access to the Expert Training portal via the Management Console which has some great videos featuring Nadeen Green, our Sr Legal Counsel and industry Fair Housing Expert. She has a great quick video on profiling pitfalls.
  • Heinz Ketchup introduced its new balsamic line of ketchup on Facebook. By clicking a link given on the Facebook page individuals were able to preorder a bottle. Due to a technical glitch, the link did not work leaving many people upset. Heinz immediately went into recovery mode and as a consolation, offered a free bottle to those who ordered once the link was fixed.
  • On Monday, during Cyber Monday, the women’s retailer- Ann Taylor LOFT offered everything online at 50% off the current price. The website was down for the most part of yesterday and people took to LOFT’s Facebook page to voice their grievances.
  • Because LOFT attempted to right the wrong, they gained fan loyalty.
  • Your reputation is a part of your identity. It’s what people are saying about you. It’s the first impression people get which means it’s critical that it’s accurate.
  • Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks. The key with this plan is to avoid the risk, reduce the negative effect or probability of the risk, or even accept some or all of the potential or actual consequences of a particular risk.
  • The key to a successful reputation management plan is the initial analysis of your business’s online presence with an eye for both current weaknesses and potential vulnerabilities. Depending on your behavior upon realization of a crisis, you have the option of taking the ‘fight or flight’ approach. You’ve learned no to burry your head in the sand when a crisis occurs but that’s only the half of it. What can you take out of this negative event and salvage to bring about opportunity? This is where a SWOT analysis model comes into play. A SWOT analysis can help you visualize the situation and compartmentalize the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within it. You’ll be able to see what variables overlap making room for you to seize your opportunity to turn the situation in a positive direction!
  • Developing a risk table allows you to identify the Risks, Categorize them, estimate the Probability and assign an impact value. Some questions to ask yourself are:What is the size, scope and level of severity of the problem? How quickly, and to what extent, can the problem be solved? What kind of skill set will be required to effectively mitigate this new risk? What formal and informal processes are already in place that we can build upon?
  • Once you have developed your table you can expand on each risk that you have identified. For example, you will want to outline the mitigation, how you will monitor the risk and what role management will play if need be.
  • So how can a brand find out what people are saying about them?Through Reputation Management Tools. Reputation Management Tools are critical. Not only do most of them allow you to Manage multiple social profiles,Schedule messages and tweets , Analyze social media traffic but they also allow you to track brand mentions .
  • Listening is pivotal. Apartments use social networks to more readily connect with their current and prospective residents. By listening to what these target audiences are saying, you have this unparalleled opportunity to respond to their comments and criticisms and make strategic changes based on this feedback. It is a 24-7 focus group, test-market discussion, and comment box rolled into one. You should be listening for all mentions of your property management company, its properties, its key influencers, and its competitors. You're listening for mentions of keywords relevant to your industry. You're listening for positive comments, complaints, and questions.But it's not just about what your hear, it's about what you do with what you hear.Responding to negative comments will not only improve overall organizational efficiency, but it also help to make your residents feel heard--and respected. If you are not listening, you are simply pushing out information; this approach will decrease your following and the overall value of social networking to your organization.Some of the ways you can listen and engage are to:-Monitor online feedback and conversations via tools like Google Alerts & Google Reader-Respond to customer feedback-Distribute customer feedback internally-Incorporate customer ideas into process or product improvements-Reward customers whose ideas you use
  • There are a variety of tools that companies can use to listen to social networking activity--some easy and free, some complex and very expensive. The choice depends on your organization's size, industry, IT resources, and, ultimately, its social buy-in.The ones showcased here are all free tools. Some of them do have some upgrades available for a minimal cost. We use Google Alerts, Hootsuite, Twilerts, Social Oomph just to name a few.
  • You can’t control what people post about your community. However, you can and should respond:PromptlyTransparentlyGenuinely PolitelyApologetically when appropriateRole play various scenarios that would realistically happen in a rental community.
  • Many times, a resident will go to a property’s Facebook page to rant. This is why monitoring your online platforms is so important. In this case, other residents needed that one bold person to step on the soapbox and the snowball effect kicked in.
  • Here is a real sample of a resident complaining about cigarette smoke around the property. University Village replies back within less than 2 hours which is timely and asks the resident to email the management office and they would be more than happy to send a letter out to all residents remaining them to not smoke in the hallways.
  • Here is a perfect example of taking one’s negativity into your opportunity. In this example, the resident Kelly is complaining about residents leaving their Kroger shopping carts in the parking lot of the apartment community after they have brought their groceries home. Kelly also asks the apartment for a solution. Another resident Justin chimes in and he provides a solution for the property to designate a spot for all of the shopping carts to be placed. The property chimes back in saying that’s a great idea and that they would come up with a solution and get back to the group.
  • Ignition points are things that you can do today to get you started on your reputation management plan.
  • At this point we will be taking questions from the Question Box.
  • Feel free to stay in touch! Here are all of the places you can follow me.
  • Transcript

    • 1. NAVIGATING YOURONLINE PRESENCE Erica Campbell Director of Social Media Dominion Homes Media
    • 2. AGENDA• What is Reputation?• How can you Manage your Online Presence?• How Does a Crisis Impact your Reputation?• Reputation Management Tools• Scenarios: How Would you Respond?• Ignition Points
    • 3. Providing greatservice and having apositive onlinereputation canabsolutely help driverevenue andincrease residentsatisfaction.
    • 4. THE REALITY• 70% of consumers trust opinions posted online and 90% of users trust recommendations from people they know.1• When shopping for an apartment, a whopping 51.6% reported they would use a ratings/review site. 2• When asked how important ratings/reviews would be, this source earned a strong 4.27/5.00 rating.2• The impact on rental decisions of a community’s ratings/reviews earned a strong 4.13/5.00 rating, ranking sixth among 45 topics rated. 2Source: 1 Nielsen Report, 2 SatisFacts Research National July 2011 Study
    • 5. People are talking about yourbrand right now.
    • 6. Some people like you…
    • 7. Some people don’t…
    • 8. But if you monitor whatpeople are saying
    • 9. and startengaging withyour customers
    • 10. You have an opportunity tomake fans like never before
    • 11. “How are you going to monetize this?” Ithink is the wrong question. The rightquestion is “How am I going to deepen myrelationships with my customers andemployees?” ~ Brian. J. Dunn – Best Buy CEO
    • 13. REP·U·TA·TIONn: The general estimation or opinion in which a person or entity is held by the public.
    • 14. A wise man once said… It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only 15 minutes to destroy it. -Warren Buffet
    • 15. WOMWord of Mouth Word of Mouse
    • 18. Source: Altimeter Group
    • 20. REPUTATION MANAGEMENTCYCLE Provide Great Service Learn from Proactively Reviews & Seek Out Comments Issues Respond to Find Negative Negative Reviews & Reviews & Comments Comments
    • 22. APARTMENTGRADE.COMPast – Biased Reviews: Most apartment rating websites offer eitheronly unsubstantiated reviews by anonymous renters or biaseddescriptions by apartment community owners.Now –’s Objective Apartment Ratings: Firstwebsite dedicated only to providing prospective renters with a credible,objective, and accurate ratings of an apartment community based solelyon the apartment community’s current resident’s feedback. Data isbased on information and opinions collected by unbiased third-partyexperts from SatisFacts. – Maintenance, leasing and management staff, the condition of the building etc… – Based on the question you’d ask a current resident if you had the chance: would you recommend this apartment community to your friends? – Email residents short survey and based on the results they assign it a rating of 1- 5 stars. – Any property scoring a rating of 3.5 or higher will be included in the results on – The listing then clicks over to an ILS.
    • 23. ORGANIZE YOURSELFINTERNALLY Customer Human Marketing Sales Legal Service Resources
    • 24. HAVE A REPUTATIONMANAGEMENT PLAN• Social Media Policy for the Social Media Administrator and Employees• Brand Integrity Model• Conversation Control• Comment and Interaction Guidelines• Fair Housing Guidelines
    • 25. IMPLEMENT A POLICY• When are your employees “your” employees?• Are you responsible for their actions when they are “on the clock”?• Are you responsible for their actions when they are on their own time?• Consider your audience and be Social Media authentic. Policy• Remember to protect proprietary and confidential information.
    • 27. BRAND INTEGRITY MODELIntegrity increases credibility, keeps rentershappy and gives them little room to complain! Beliefs Integrity Words Actions
    • 28. WHO RESPONDS?• Regional/Corporate – Pros: Not emotionally tied to the issue/concern – Cons/Challenges: Could cause for delay because they must obtain all info from on-site team before responding & should stand behind the on-site team, if possible• Property Manager – Pros: Knows all the details, backstory & may personally know the resident with the issue/concern – Cons: Too emotionally invested, especially if he/she is the target of the review or comment
    • 29. COMMENT GUIDELINES• Will you reject comments which include offensive or inappropriate language?• Will you allow personal attacks?• In an ideal world you might allow people to question or argue your company’s content – after all, this medium is about conversation. However as we all know, this isn’t an ideal world.• Even if you do allow criticism, consider outlawing aggressive attacks.• On-topic comments: What will you do with comments that veer away from the topic of the post or other peoples’ comments?• Will you allow comments that appear to be spam?• Will you take action against repeat offenders?• Will you provide a way for commenters to contact someone if their comment is not approved, or if they have other questions?
    • 30.
    • 31. FAIR HOUSING GUIDELINES• Show diversity in your photos• Ask permission before posting any photos of residents (have them sign a model release)• Dont profile based on what you see on a resident or potential residents Facebook profile
    • 32. TAKING THE CONVERSATIONOFFLINE… Example: Technical Glitch
    • 33. TAKING THE CONVERSATIONOFFLINE…Example: NegativeFeedback
    • 34. TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY… Example: Technical Glitch
    • 35. TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY… Example: Personalization
    • 36. TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY… Example: Mob Mentality Not on the Facebook Business Page
    • 37. TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY… Example: Solution Provided
    • 38. TAKING ACCOUNTABILITY… Example: Redemption
    • 40. RISK MITIGATIONIdentify the following in advance:• Customer-related risks• Technology risks• Staff size and experience risks• Current market conditions risks
    • 41. SWOT The key to a successful reputation management plan is the initial analysis of your business’s online presence with an eye for both current weaknesses and potential vulnerabilities.
    • 42. RISK TABLE Once you have developed your table you can expand on each risk that you have identified.
    • 43. RISK MITIGATION, MONITORINGAND MANAGEMENTRisk: Excess garbage on community grounds due to lack of trash deposits• Mitigation: In order to alleviate excess debris on community grounds due to overcrowding, Park Terrace will pull funds together from the Community Events budget to purchase additional garbage deposit canisters. This will ensure the upkeep of the community grounds and reduce the smell of exposed garbage.• Monitoring: Community grounds keepers will update notes on the conditions of the community grounds while making their daily rounds. Poll cards will be put in each residents mailbox two weeks after the additional canisters have been in use.• Management: Should the Park Terrace community come to find that the additional canisters did not meet the level of satisfaction or pacification of the issue, property management will readdress and look at other alternatives to solve the problem.
    • 45. WAYS TO LISTEN & ENGAGE• Monitor online feedback and conversations via tools like Google Alerts & Google Reader• Respond to customer feedback• Distribute customer feedback internally• Incorporate customer ideas into process or product improvements• Reward customers whose ideas you use
    • 46. IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS Helpful statistics such as how people arrive at your website, can lead to important insights that can help your plan.
    • 52. ScenariosHOW WOULD YOURESPOND?
    • 53. HOW DO YOU RESPOND?• Understand the Audience: Your residents & prospects want to know that you are listening and that they will taken care of.• Be Authentic: Don’t respond in a mechanical, robotic manner. Specifically address the issue.• Offer a Solution: Put effort into your response.• Keep it Timely: Respond as quickly as possible & try to address the issue before your audience points it out.
    • 57. OFFICE STAFF
    • 58. OFFICE STAFF Example of a Form Letter Response
    • 59. HIDDEN CHARGES “Hello, as we discussed last week in my office, you were charged XYZ amount because of ABC reason. I realize now that I may not have been clear enough, so if you would like to discuss it again, please let me know!”
    • 60. PEST ISSUES
    • 61. PET ISSUES
    • 72. THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY!• Create a SWOT Analysis or Risk Mitigation Plan – In regard to your Facebook page, list; • Strengths • Weaknesses • Opportunities • Threats • Potential Risks and Mitigation• Brainstorm scenarios of negative incidents and find the hidden opportunities• Find current residents that are advocates and ask them for a review.
    • 73. TAKEAWAYS• Social Media Rules of Engagement• Social Media Policy for the Administrator and Employee:• Social Media Fair Housing Guidelines
    • 74. The way to gain a goodreputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. ~ Socrates
    • 75. Q&A