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Google+: A Quick Perspective

I am sure everyone has heard or read the buzz about Google's latest offering, Google+. Call it the first real challenge to Facebook's rein or call it Google's next flop [Read: Google Wave]; I think it has a shot to make a dent in the social media universe and thus the multifamily space. But, it’s way too early to speculate an end game. Thanks to an invite from Mark Juleen, I've had the opportunity to play around with Google+ for the past four of five days and I must admit I like it. On the surface it seems like a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook with a few additional touches. It doesn't have great aesthetics but maybe that is part of the appeal. I do like simple, clean and easy.  One key differentiator is the ability to segment the various audiences you speak to with ease. Be it family, friends, co-workers, multifamily maniacs, biker buddies, consultants, thought leaders and the list goes on and on. You simply drag and or toggle them into Circles that you can give specific names to. It seems to add a level of security that FB makes you work for.  It also does a good job of recommending people that you might want to connect with or Circle up with you will, a feature I think will get better over time with more users and more personal data points. Do I see this making an impact in the multifamily space? Not just yet as the platform......
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Can Apartment Marketers Afford to Disconnect a 24/7 generation?

Apartment employees access to social mediaYou will hear it again and again in 2010 – what started out as a simple and subtle tap on the window has become a crashing of such proportions that you can not ignore it anymore. Business as we know it has changed and like it or not social mediums are here to stay. The question for the coming year is, will you embrace change [embrace engagement] or will you be comfortable with irrelevance? Harvard Business Publishing posted a story titled: The Uber-Connected Organization: A Mandate for 2010 In it, Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd bring notice to a number of companies embracing business as it relates to social media. They really drill home the point of access and I would like to expand on that in the context of the apartment industry. Apartment employees access to social media We have all heard of NetNanny and other Internet site blocking technologies used to cut off access. Meister and Willyerd suggest that, “Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos on YouTube, using social networking sites like Facebook or shopping online under the pretense that it costs millions in lost productivity, however that’s not always the case.” I suggest, in lieu of the monies dedicated to blocking initiatives, it might be time to re-imagine your culture and spend some of those monies enhancing your employees experiences. One inexpensive example, image turning your employees loose to use Multifamily Insiders – a social media mecca for great ideas relative to......
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Let Your Neighborhood do the Talking

As a preface to my original post over at mbrewergroup.com - I am by no means implying not to disclose price if your new neighbor asks for it. By all means give it up but get hyper-local first... Don't tell prospects and residents how much your apartments are - tell them how much you are moved by the neighborhood. Tell them about waking up on a crisp fall morning and taking a run in Forest Park just one block over from your apartment. Tell them about stopping back by Velocity Coffee Shop to have a cup of coffee - served by a friendly Barista named Tracy who rarely smiles but wants to. Tell them about the free copies of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the St. Louis Dispatch. Tell them about the free wifi. And, oh - it's a bike shop too with cool bike motif everywhere. The bathroom even has a cool chalkboard where you once drew a giant dragon that looked as if it were eating the giant flower someone else drew. Tell them about Papa John's pizza and Subway at the end of the block where Tony and Charles remember your name and serve you with a smile. Tell them about Mike and Jean who own Atlas Restaurant located in the heart of the neighborhood and the amazing food and desserts that they serve. Tell them about The Loop and The Central West End [very cool Saint Louis neighborhood hangouts] being just one mile away and don't forget to mention the f......
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Apartment Reviews – Reimagined

Looking back Back in October of 2007 we wrote about participating in the conversation via rating sites and even suggested incorporating a mechanism into your property management website to make it easier. Here is a bit of a revised excerpt from that post; "If you are still of the mind that dismisses the value of sites like apartmentratings.com, listen up. The feedback outlined in the brief above [Deloitte] should move you to action as soon as possible. I truly think we should all open up our company websites to include a consumer and resident feedback mechanism. Instead of internal score keeping, make it completely transparent. My only suggesting is that you have an editor just for the sake of carving out names and character attacks as we know they will come despite our best efforts. Even with that in mind you have to be courageous enough to leave the meat and more importantly act on it." Two years later Here we are nearly two years later in the midst of the conversation marketing buzz and while a good many of us are participating there is still a hesitancy to move that conversation to our websites. Even those that have don't really have a great deal of participation in terms of consumers reviewing them. Two years from now Not only is the writing on the wall but the ink is dry and the conversation is going on with or without you. And, the benefits are immense when you bring the conversation to you; You have the ability to......
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Multifamily Brand: Energy Makes the Difference

What is the difference that makes a difference when it comes to your multifamily management brand? The standard textbook answer might include words like awareness, trust, regard or esteem. Settle there however and you miss the key ingredient. Energy. It’s All About Energy John Gerzema and Ed Lebar discuss energy and what it means to a brand in their book:  The Brand Bubble. In chapter two they use a poignant quote from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall to set the stage for the difference that energy makes to a brand “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And what I think we got on our hands is a dead shark.” Why is Energy Important Any great brand must keep moving forward in order to remain relevant in the hearts of consumers and it takes energy to do that. The advent of the Internet coupled with the development of social mediums have made staples like; awareness, trust, regard and esteem simply the price of admission. Even then trust in brands has declined 50%, according to John who is the Chief Insights Officer at Young and Rubicam. Simply put, the reason energy is so important is that it boosts differentiation. People are tired and they are looking for stuff and things that pick them up and keep them vibrant. Brands that fill that void by staying fresh and relevant will win the lions share of loyalty in consumers - if there is such a thing a......
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Purchasing feedback: I will pay you vs. I will give you something free

Read the following tweet this morning [RT @[xyz] @[abc] Suggest that you give away a free Flip to every prospect/resident that creates a [management company] Experience Video, Beats  free rent] - it really got me thinking. I have read both sides of this issue and have taken the position that if you disclose that you are paying for and or giving something away in exchange for an endorsement then frankly it's okay. It really comes down to what is in the eye of the beholder.  And, I think, at the end of the day, if a person really wants a product/experience they will go and get it/have it despite the persons of influence in their lives. They may read and listen but if they want it - they want it, period. My real point here is that the above tweet implies that it's okay to give away a  Flip in exchange for an endorsement. Moreover it specifically states that it's better than giving away free rent. On that point I ask: What's the difference? - give away free rent or buy 20 Flips to give away - either way you hit the bottom line. Sure buying the Flip is cheaper and brings along a novelty that escaped the free rent give away long ago but it's still an expense. It's just a different form of currency. Marry it with a "you get the Flip free "if" you give me an endorsement and you have really marred the picture but I w......
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Bing

Microsoft debuted a new search engine on May 28, 2009 called Bing. Head on over and Bing yourself, your company and or your apartment community. You might be surprised by the results. Dubbed the decision engine, Bing is suggested to help users search the web more intelligently. It does so by grouping or organizing search results according to users preferences. You can learn more about Bing by watching this informative video. Bing is not Google and it will likely take some time to gain traction with users but it is cool. It makes me think the SEO game will/has changed. Will we now be competing for Bing Juice and if so what are the key drivers? I ran a few apartments in [insert city] searches where companies usually dominate the front page of Google and found some interesting results. Each time it yielded [among the usual ILS'], a company URL, usually down the list, not the social media stuff. Now when you type in a specific company name social media seemed to dominate the listings. Now I know it is early and in the same respect if Bing does take off to the extent it changes the game for Google and others, what will that mean for all the work we are currently doing with Social Media? Not suggesting we quit but does it change our approach? Should be interesting watching the news and reviews unfold over the coming weeks and I would love to hear from some of our m......
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Using Wave to Market Apartments

Can you imagine a service that combines email, instant-messaging and document sharing? Well now you don't have to;  Google Unveils a Conversation Service called Wave - WSJ.com. This struck me as I am currently working on a piece that is relative to the next generation of the Internet; Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web and in my opinion this speaks directly to it. This is a fascinating topic in that it really boils down to search engine sites racing to organize web content around a set of standards - standards that would ultimately give meaning to web pages. Meaning so precise that any search term you typed in would yield the exact person, place, thing or in our case apartment that you were looking for. Imagine searching for a $612 second floor one bedroom apartment facing Forest Park in Central West End of St. Louis and boom you get it. Add the words; near someone I know and boom you find one right next to one of your Facebook friends. Google's Wave is for all intents and purposes a way to organize conversations in such a way that they have a more precise meaning to the end user. How might something like this be useful in our space? Using Wave we could generate a message on the topic of a recently vacated apartment home and the need for a new resident. We could then send it out to our permission based user set [read: resident evangelists]. Maybe we tie an i......
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All the Best Intentions in the Social Media World

Tom Peters has carved out a very unique niche in the business consulting arena and rightfully so. His ideas, dating back 25+ years are as relevant today as they were back then. Many of them are still cutting the edge that we all innately yearn for. Over this Mother’s Day weekend I managed to read a post that really hit home in a simple but important kind of way. The following is an excerpt from the blog titled: Wrong Answer! When I got back from the field, covered with mud (it was rainy season), I was sent directly to the Commandant with no time to change into a respectable uniform—a great embarrassment. General Chapman engaged in all of about 15 seconds of chitchat, and having done his duty to my aunt, sent me on my way. As I was literally walking out of his temporary field office, he summoned me back, and said, out of the blue, “Tom, are you taking care of your men?” (I had a little detachment, about 20 guys as I recall, doing the work described before.) Yup, 40 years plus later, I remember his exact words—which is the point of this Post. I replied to the General, “I’m doing my best, sir.” To this day, with a chill going up my spine (no kidding—as I type this), I can see his face darken, and his voice harden, “Mr Peters, General Walt and I and General Buse are not interested in whether or not you are ‘doing your best.’ We......
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Is Social Media Making You Tired?

I received the following message on 4.20.9 from a person I would consider a treasured mentor in my life; Subject: So I'm worried about you I would like you to read "The Mindful Brain" by a guy named Siegel.  I think you are dis-attuning yourself to a deeper level of awareness and consciousness with this twitter/30 second thought process/Facebook life.  These are cruise ship recipes, not intimate meals where the provenance of your food is known.  This must seem so contrary on my part to say and I surmise you think your are enjoying the height of a social media experience.  Maybe so but I say this only with concern for you.  Take stock, my friend, and when you do be sure you still have long walks and ample period for reflection.  If you can do that and do this, more power to you. [End] My instant reaction - thank the one that governs all that is and ever will be as I have never been so tired at any span of my professional career.  Up at 5:00 and down at 1:00 or 2:00 every day of the week. The culprit? Social Media coupled with an addictive personality. With some irony, the message above came to me two years to the day that I left Equity Residential. Sign? - Maybe a little far reaching but it quickly took my mind to two songs that stir my being every time that I hear them; Down in a hole - Alice in C......
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