Great point, Brent! That's also where AFPOE can be helpful. Responses which come off like "because...
Wendy Dorchester
Hire for culture, train for skill! Love this. Jared, you have always emulated great culture in every...
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Tashina Wortham

Tashina Wortham

Tashina Wortham specializes in marketing and public relations at Property Solutions International, the nation's largest provider of apartment community websites and a leading developer of innovative property management software tools. Visit http://propertysolutions.com/ to learn more.

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
Since the beginning of the year, organic reach for Facebook business pages has plummeted, as industry professionals have recently pointed out. But despite an estimated 6% unpaid reach¹, some multifamily management companies are still knocking it out of the park when it comes to quality audience engagement. Here are a few of our industry’s top performers for some added inspiration: 1) J.C. Hart – In case you missed it, the Indianapolis-based management company J.C. Hart was represented by its Director of Marketing during this year’s Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) Conference in Huntington Beach. Self-proclaimed “Apartment Nerd” Mark Juleen shared his team’s approach to Facebook engagement and leveraging social media overall for lead gen. With about 6,500 fans for their corporate page, it’s not uncommon for them to get 30 to 50+ comments or shares on their contest posts—most often in connection with $10 coffee card giveaways. What I like most about their contests is that they clearly communicate methodology and notification for the drawings, which provides an added transparency that encourages fans to continue participating. 2) Z Islander - Specifically at the site-level, off-campus student housing community Z Islander (Asset Campus) boasts about 1,800 fans and looks pretty fancy with the new redesigned Facebook business pages, which are slowly but surely coming live since early March². Although there’s room for improvement with their reviews and user posts… Judging simply by the number of Likes for their community events posts (and this album from their crawfish boil), I feel like Z Islander is THE place to party. Other college-related shareables (think study woes...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
In case recent changes to Craigslist’s posting policy weren’t enough, a sudden tweak to it’s terms of use has put the industry on high-alert over the legality of posting tools. Craigslist added breakdown of monetary penalties against violators escalating to as much as $25k, which would be a serious problem for operators if this applied to all Craigslist posting tools. But it doesn’t. These Usage Restrictions Aren’t New This right here isn’t new: USE. You agree not to use or provide software (except for general purpose web browsers and email clients, or software expressly licensed by us) or services that interact or interoperate with CL, e.g. for downloading, uploading, posting, flagging, emailing, search, or mobile use.That’s been in Craigslist’s terms of use for years now. The only change is that they’ve included a “reasonable estimate of damages” for violators of their existing usage restrictions that were already in place. Not All Craigslist Tools are Forbidden Posting tools that have always been in compliance are still in compliance. Craigslist bars the use of tools which download, upload, email, and post automatically to their site. The bulk posting tools in our industry don’t do that. They simply provide a content library for companies to then manually place listings. It’s when your software is automatically posting Craigslist ads in your name that you should probably be concerned. What Do Allowed Craigslist Tools Provide? With html, hyperlinks, and view-tracking thrown out, we’ve got some serious “make or break” questions on the value of posting tools....

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
So what’s all the buzz about business intelligence (BI), and just what does BI mean for apartment operators and managers, anyway? “Put simply, business intelligence is all of the things that enable you to make good, data-based decisions to improve business performance,” explained Glenn Thomas, Lead Software Development Manager, Business Intelligence at Property Solutions during an industry technology event last fall. With the multifamily industry increasingly looking toward the freedom provided by open, agile systems able to capitalize on the competitive opportunities revealed in strong data and reporting, Thomas outlined the four most common data challenges with multifamily software systems that traditionally have inhibited the ability to cultivate actionable BI: 1)                 Bad Data: Bad data includes duplicate files and data sets, corrupted files, and non-tied data sets that should logically be connected or relational. 2)                 Old Data: This is yesterday’s news, or worse, even older legacy data from systems, products, properties, and people no longer relevant (and therefore antagonistic) to your enterprise and your data management. 3)                 “Can’t Get There From Here” Data: Fixed reports and data sets that are not malleable enough for analysis and interaction offer little promise for efficient and actionable data analysis for multifamily strategists. 4)                  “Can’t Get There Quick Enough” Data: The red-headed step child of “Can’t Get There from Here” data is data that might be malleable or interactive, but is for a variety of reasons held captive from the data analyst, including data sets dependent on participation from other partners, vendors, or housed in...

Posted by on in Multifamily Training and Career Development
Multifamily leaders share their keys to empowering property staff when launching new systems and technology  By some estimates, 70% of change initiatives fail to meet their objectives. According to Multifamily Solutions president Dennis Smillie, it’s a staggering figure illustrating common barriers when launching any sort of change at an apartment organization. “Change management starts long before implementation begins,” says Smillie, “And effective change management survives and thrives long after implementation is done.” Beyond the standpoint of multifamily software, he explains that change confronts all departmental areas and disciplines. “It can be something as simple as asking your offices to stay open an extra half hour during the summer to capture more opportunities in the leasing center,” Smilie says. “Whether it’s technology, or whether it’s simple business processes, change is change.” “You need a good change management plan. That’s the key component,” agrees Scott Pechersky, Vice President of Technology and Ancillary Services at Alliance Residential, who outlines four specific questions his team asks right from the get-go when implementing change: 1) What are the behaviors we want to get out of our staff? 2) Which employee positions will we primarily use to communicate the change? 3) How will we communicate that message? 4) What new costs or budgeting measures will be impacted?   “Success is important,” explains Smillie. “But failure is even more important because failure creates barriers to future change. Every time a change effort fails it generates greater resistance to any subsequent new initiatives, related or unrelated.” To help ward off...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
Believe it or not, a lot of the marketing happening within the multifamily industry isn’t completely connected with what’s happening in the leasing office.  “We are in an industry where customers self-identify as prospects and spend a considerable amount of time finding us through search,” explains D2 Demand Solutions president Donald Davidoff. “The flipside is that those prospects are coming to us at a point where they know as much or more about our product and our competitor’s product—including pricing and reviews—as we do,” As a result, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) concept popularized by Google and trending across the multifamily marketing landscape is having a much more indelible impact, Davidoff says. ZMOT holds that consumer purchasing patterns and use of technology has empowered a new era of online leasing, targeted marketing and demand creation, and the ability to begin creating brand ambassadors at first (or zero) point of contact. According to data from a multifamily ZMOT survey conducted this fall, only 64% of apartment searchers claimed to have used an online search engine to find their apartment, while 84% indicated they primarily sought out the opinions, advice, and recommendations from friends and family. The survey, which included 288 renter responses from 124 cities in 25 states, also found a strong connection between so-called “web appeal” and community curb appeal among the top five ZMOT influencers cited by respondents: 62% of prospects use their mobile phone during an onsite visit to compare apartments and prices elsewhere. 64% of apartment searchers...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
What on earth do car interiors have to do with online multifamily marketing? If you’re even remotely concerned with how customers interact with your community websites and software tools (and really, who isn’t?), understanding product design and development processes in the automobile industry provides some keen insight into how improved user experiences can impact the multifamily resident lifecycle.   “My favorite word in thinking about user experience and design is empathy,” says former General Motors product designer Branden Neish, who spoke on the Crafting an Interactive User Experience panel at a recent Property Solutions’ user conference. “A lot of auto purchases and leases are made on emotion, and you have to be able to capture customer attention via emotion. To achieve that, the first stop in any design process is really understanding the customer.” According to Neish, the balancing act of a great user experience is between design constraints, business and development constraints, and engineering constraints, necessitating a partnership between business, design and engineering departments and disciplines. Similarly, user experience should apply in three key areas in the apartment industry: your leasing office, your model units, and finally your prospect and resident websites.  In the session, presenters outlined their top five tips for an improved community website user experience: 1)     Cut the Clutter: Use a maximum of 8, clearly labeled navigation items. 2)     Provide Eye Candy: Capture attention by leveraging visual media, most notably, lots of high-quality photography. 3)     Minimize the Mazes: Don’t hold back information in any area. Help users...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
b2ap3_thumbnail_article-1267117675638-087732D4000005DC-220098_636x318.jpgJust this month, Safari celebrated its 10 year anniversary as Apple Inc.’s landmark web browser for the Mac operating system. Since it was first released in 2002, Safari has taken over an admirable 13 to 15 percent of the U.S. market, through its use of products like Apple’s MacBook, iPad, and iPhone. But overall, Internet Explorer (IE) has managed to sustain its 13-year reign as America’s most widely used web browser.* However, when you narrow-in on web traffic to apartment websites, these distinctions do not hold true. The people who are visiting apartment websites display a far different manner than the average web surfer. In addition to this month being Safari’s 10th Birthday, it is also the month that Safari surpassed Internet Explorer as the most used browser by visitors to ProspectPortal. Of the approximately 7 million visitors to apartment websites we monitored over 30 days, 30% were on Safari compared to 28% on Internet Explorer. Okay, granted, it’s only a 2% difference. But looking at a cross section of apartment website traffic, it’s largely defiant of national averages. This brings up a lot of questions about who prospects are, how they’re discovering multifamily communities online, and what this means for the future of multifamily technology. Apple, P.C., and Overdone StereotypesIf you weren’t aware of it before, the elite phenomenon that is the Mac user was strongly communicated when Apple launched its “Get a Mac” campaign with a series of “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” commercials from 2006 to 2010,...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
insta4.jpg   To add to the barrage of social media opportunities that professionals in our industry have been compelled to filter through over recent years, Instagram is another channel that is quickly transitioning from niche to mainstream, and proving itself a force to be reckoned with.   So if you’re looking to get started with Instragram at your property, or if you need some ideas to help diversify your photostream, here are are 40 photo subjects for your perusal. And feel free to comment with your ideas!   1. dishes from local restaurants - nothing is quite so enticing as local cuisine to give viewers a taste of the area.2. live pics from local events - concerts, gallery openings, block parties...3. cityscapes - if you offer rooms w/ a view, flaunt it.4. seasonal area attractions - carnivals, parades, festivals...5. resident events - that’s a no-brainer. 6. food - if you’re anything like us, treats around the office are never lacking. But only post it if you’re willing to share.7. the grounds8. repairs - show-off your maintenance skills9. food trucks - it doesn’t get any more hipster than that, and residents deserve to know. 10. cute animals - who can resist? And pet-friendliness can be a big factor for a lot of residents.11. foliage - nothing gives people the warm fuzzies like a autum leaves or cherry blossoms in spring.12. gifts & giveaways - show us the goods. 13. amenities - pool? gym? pristine laundry facilities?14. industry events - if your community...
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Posted by on in Property Management

As level-headed mature adults (or so we hope), we’ve all been well versed on what conversations are all-around “safe” topics. Pets, traffic, food, the weather—all generally pretty dependable for drama-free, low-risk chitter chatter. They’re your guideposts when there’s a need to look socially competent, without requiring a terrible amount of creativity or concentration. In fact, a person who chooses to display any form of strong emotion during an episode of small talk is generally despised.

Within the vast sphere conventional corporate America, customer relationship management (CRM) is another topic that is highly prevalent, granted little consequence, and in many circumstances, can be painfully dull. But the thing is, we’ve got to know this stuff. Effectively managing client interactions can make or break your company—just ask Zappos.

Posted by on in Property Management

So maybe you heard about this: Earlier this year, rapper Armando Christian Perez, or “Pitbull”, partnered with Walmart and Energy Sheets in a social media campaign which took a turn for the worst. In June the trio announced a Facebook contest, in which the local Walmart store that received the most page “likes” would receive a personal visit from Pitbull so he could “share the experience of using Energy Sheets with [his] fans.

That’s when David Thorpe, writer for The Boston Phoenix and the off-color comedy site Something Awful, got wind of the promotion and hijacked the campaign by encouraging people to #ExilePitbull to a remote Walmart location on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The prank spread like wildfire season in the interior arctic, and by the conclusion of the contest, a city with a population of 6,000 incinerated the efforts of 4,000 other U.S. locations, achieving over 70,000 Facebook “likes.”