“When I was a kid, I had to walk to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways.” I can’t tell you how many ties I heard that growing up. Of course, way back then, there was no way for me to know if what I heard was accurate. Did these masters-of-all beings really have it that bad? Way back then there wasn’t the Internet to check, and the old Encyclopedia Britannica didn’t have an entry for “we had it tougher than you kids.”
Today, my son can check Google Earth and see not only that we lived next to the school but the hill was more like a gradual slope. With a few more clicks he could see that bus or carpool were really the only methods of transportation. And one more would show a list of reviews and tips related to best parking spots and how to bypass the carpool line.
Apartments today face similar, albeit varied, exposure to online reviews. The digital landscape is dominated by user-generated content and it’s only growing. Student housing marketing requires property management companies to keep an extra eye on their online reputation. Here are a few online reputation tips to protect your digital reputation:
KNOW THE SITES: There are hundreds of sites were users can review businesses. From Facebook to Google+ to Yelp to ApartmentRatings.Com, it’s important to know (and visit) the sites popular in your market. Get in the habit of doing a Google search of your property periodically.
ENCOURAGE REVIEWS: A positive online reputation will help you turn prospects into leads and residents into referrers. If you seek out the reviews it will likely be more positive. The next time a resident gives your team a compliment, ask them to give you a positive review online. Many people tend to write online reviews because of a negative experience. By encouraging your happy residents to rate you, you’ll get more positive reviews.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE NEGATIVE REVIEWS: Your first instinct might be to delete a negative comment on Facebook or ignore a bad rating on Yelp or ApartmentRatings.Com. Don’t! Respond to the comment and show off your great customer service skills. And after you’ve corrected the issue, ask the user to revise or update their comment. You’ve turned a negative to a positive and got some good feedback on areas of improvement.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR COMPETITORS: Keep an eye on your competitors and pay attention to what they’re doing. Who knows? You might learn a thing or two about what TO DO and what NOT to do based on what their customers are saying.
By following these online reputation tips, you’ll be able to protect your digital reputation. Be a part of the conversation and actively engage with your customers. After all, they have access too much more than you may think and it will pay off to know where you stand. Hiding behind tales from the past is just that – a thing of the past.