10 tips for managing your online reputation, from bad reviews to branding

Jason Van Steenwyk
Jason Van Steenwyk | 5 min. read

Published on May 17, 2018

Your word-of-mouth reputation is important. Your word-of-screen reputation is crucial.

According to a recent study from J Turner Research, online reviews are now the top driver in renters’ decision-making process when it comes to researching their next apartment.

Three-quarters of residents turn to reviews at multiple points throughout their apartment search process. They rate the importance of their management company’s reputation in their decision-making process as an 8 out of 10. Maintaining a positive online reputation is critical to surviving the consumer’s first cut and staying in the game to get that all-important lease signed.

According to J Turner Research, the most important review sites to focus on are Apartments.com, Google Reviews, Apartment Ratings, Facebook, and Yelp.

Here are 10 of our best online reputation management tips for property managers.

#1: Never Ignore a Bad Review

To neutralize the damage of a bad review, start with a prompt, professional response thanking the user for bringing the matter to your attention. Next, if possible, tell the user how you’re planning to address the problem. Rather than hurting your reputation, if you handle a bad review in a diplomatic way, you may even look better for it!

#2: Assume Your Clients Are Watching

From your current landlords to future investors, you can safely assume that your clients will use your reviews to gauge your service quality. The promptness and quality of your responses as a property manager on review sites will reflect on your company’s reputation not just with your residents, but to people who have the power to terminate your property management contract.

#3: Appoint an Online Brand Manager

This person should be regularly monitoring the major review sites and other relevant platforms. At a minimum, check the most active review sites each weekday, as well as your company’s social media accounts. Set up Google alerts to let you know when someone writes something about your company or the apartment communities you manage.

#4: Respond as Quickly as Possible

‘Same-day’ is the standard, and 40 percent of all online reviewers expect this. Not ready to give a detailed response right away? Try something like, “Thank you for your review! We’re looking into it promptly and we’ll have an update by tomorrow. If you have more information we should know, please call or email us right away so we can better serve you!”

#5: Don’t Get Caught Up in the Back-and-Forth

Respond only once or twice to each bad reviewer, and then ask them to contact you via phone or email. Don’t get into public battles with your critics—no matter how right you might be, it makes you look petty.

#6: Track Trends Over Time

Keep a running tally of things that prompt reviews—both positive and negative. If more than two people mention the same thing in your apartment community within the same period of time—be it garbage pick-up, a dirty pool, a lousy workout area, or unsafe or unsanitary conditions anywhere on the property, you probably have a problem—and an opportunity to excel.

#7: Ask for Feedback

Encourage residents to contact you with constructive criticism. If they feel comfortable speaking with you and your staff directly, you have a better chance of intercepting negative information and acting on it before a bad review goes public. You can also encourage happy residents to leave a positive review on one or more key sites.
Two great times to ask for a positive review are at lease signing or renewal, and after the completion of a work order. Another great time to ask for a review might be right after issuing a full security deposit back for a resident who recently moved out. For reviews of your business, don’t forget to ask property owners to write a positive review for you after you get a resident to renew, or when you’ve filled a vacancy particularly quickly.

#8: Don’t Leave Reputation Management to the Interns

With 78 percent of renters looking carefully at online reviews before they ever get to a lease signing, your online reputation isn’t an ancillary activity—it’s a crucial part of your sales and marketing efforts. It deserves attention, emphasis, and visibility from the very top of your organization.

#9: Report Abusive Reviews

Review sites have terms of service, and in some cases, reviewers violate them. You may be able to eliminate some particularly negative reviews by using the platform’s reporting process. (That doesn’t mean that the information in these reviews can’t be valuable, though.)
Pro tip: If you don’t get a satisfactory response from the initial flagging of a Yelp review, you can use this form to appeal to a higher level.

#10: Don’t Copy and Paste Reviews

It might be tempting to repost positive reviews on multiple platforms. However, major review sites are on to this trick, as is Google; so you could wind up hurting your visibility in search results, as well as your credibility.

Property managers: Learn 10 smart tips for managing your online reputation on the #BuildiumBlog! Click To Tweet

Liked this post? We bet you’ll like this one, too: Take Charge of Your Online Reputation with 8 Tools for Small Businesses

Do you have any advice or stories about managing your online reputation? Let us know in the comments!

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Jason Van Steenwyk

Jason is a freelance writer and editor, as well as an avid fiddler. His articles have been published in a number of real estate publications including Wealth and Retirement Planner and Bankrate.com. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with his cat, Sasha, and an unknown number of musical instruments.

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