Did you know over 76% of people trust online reviews from other consumers almost as much as recommendations from friends and family (Local Consumer Review Survey, BrightLocal)?
It’s true. And this means that it’s time to get strategic about how your online presence—the good, the bad, and everything in between—represents your property management business’ reputation.
What is online reputation management for property managers?
Well, we are talking about all of the information that’s publicly visible related to your business digitally: your social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, private social media groups, ratings sites like Google and Yelp, even comments sections on websites.
Most importantly, your online reputation is a reflection of your actual business on the ground and the value that you bring to all your owners and residents, which is really the most crucial piece of all.
Usually reputation is what people say about you when you leave the room, but online, it’s what people write or say about you all the time.
Knowing what you can control and what you can influence helps you go from reactive to proactive. That brings us to our first tip.
#1: Understand What You Can Control vs. What You Can Influence
On the plus side, you have control over your website, your Google business profile, your company story and bio, your social media, and, most of all, how you define your business—marketers call this your brand and this really comes first.
On the other hand, you can only influence reviews, mentions, ratings, and perceptions of you (vendors, owners, and residents). These things are in the hands of other people, so you can control the experience you provide, but not what they say about you.
Straight talk: Your digital reputation is really accumulation of information online that you can control plus what other people say about you. Understanding the nature of each element will help you be strategic about how you handle it.
#2: Lock Down Your Digital Basics
When it comes to reputation there are certain items that are must haves so that your business has an online presence. According to Think with Google, somewhere in the neighborhood of 87 percent of all shopping occasions begin online—and these percentages go up every year. So you have to be findable.
What this means is that, as consumers, we begin all of our journeys with research, long before we ever engage with a business—whether we are buying a book or renting an apartment.
Here are the basics: First, make sure that you have a professional website that best represents who you are.
In fact, from our 2020 State of the Property Management Industry Report, we found that “when they’re searching for a place to live, residents look at rental listings on the websites of local property managers or apartment communities nearly as often as they visit national listing sites like Zillow and Trulia.”
Second, get the social media accounts set up where your audience frequents. Next, make sure that all of your bio and information is consistent across review sites and social media. For example, if you have multiple business listings in Google with different addresses, that could really hurt your ability to show up in local search—plus people wouldn’t know where to find your business in person.
#3: Exercise Your Social Media Proactively
Sure, social media can be a double-edged sword for many property management companies that can take up your time and open you up to more feedback—but, in this day and age, it’s also an unmatched marketing tool.
While you might think that renters don’t care about your company reviews when looking for an apartment, you can be sure that they will if their needs aren’t being met; they will find your business online. You have to know how to manage your social media proactively.
The trick is to look at social media as a way of delivering value— information that you want your owners and residents to enjoy and access. We like to use the 50/30/20 rule around sharing content for engagement—50% curated, 30% original and informational, and 20% promotional—but find the split and rhythm that works best for you.
#4 Respond to Negative Reviews Promptly and Calmly
Do not fear a negative response—it gives you an opportunity, not just to fix the problem, but to do it visibly so other people (like prospective owners and renters) know you take their feedback seriously.
There are so many ways that reviews on review sites or social media can take you down a path that you don’t want to go. But most of the time, you can positively influence perceptions by thanking them, letting them know that is not the experience you want for your residents, and inviting them to talk further offline.
Never get into a heated back-and-forth shouting match in a public forum.
Remember, what’s on the internet can last forever (or at least a very long time), so think about what you want to have “on the record.” Managing social media reviews is an art, so please check out our article on doing just that.
#5: Ask Owners for Reviews on a Regular Clip
Keeping recent reviews flowing in is essential to the health of your digital reputation. In fact, according to a survey by BrightLocal, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to use a business because of positive reviews.
Property owners who are pleased with your service, will be happy to give you a glowing write-up. Make it easy for them, but don’t duplicate reviews across different sites as that may raise some red flags on authenticity. Pro tip: Proud of something you’ve just done for a client? Ask them for a review in one of your regular emails right after. That way you know your exceptional service will be top of mind.
#6: Make Someone Accountable for Your Online Presence
If you can, be sure to assign all of these marketing responsibilities like keeping your website and social media updated with engaging content and responding to social reviews to an experienced member of your team that has the bandwidth to handle the job. Be sure to work out clear guidelines to stay sharp with how you deal with touchy situations and how you represent your company.
#7 Put Online Reputation Management Technology Into Action
Depending on your budget, there are all types of solutions to monitor mentions and sentiment of your company, syndicate your positive reviews, and even help you plan your social media calendar. There are too many to list here so please check out our article on the best online reputation management tools for property managers. Pro tip: Even if you don’t have a massive budget, setting up Google alerts can help you track any mention of your company (and your competition) online for free.
#8: Focus on Delivering a 5-star, Tech-enabled Resident Experience
Thanks to app-based services and online review sites, your reputation is quite literally in their hands. The best way to make sure that happy residents leave happy reviews is to stay in touch with what they want most in their living experience.
The reality is what most residents consider a great experience doesn’t mean luxury amenities. From our research,
72% of renters feel that it’s very important that their property manager is easy to get ahold of and resolve issues quickly.
And, renters of all ages love the ability to pay rent and submit maintenance requests online through a resident site or app.
Not sure? Ask them! Survey your residents regularly by using tools like SurveyMonkey to spot issues early. Keep your residents happy and they’ll stay in their unit for more time making your business more profitable, too.Read more on Marketing