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Social Media and Review Responses: Do you know your audience?

Social Media and Review Responses: Do you know your audience?

During your day to day tasks do you treat social media posts and responding to reviews the same? Both are equally important in a community’s marketing strategy, however each have a different target audience. Imagine you are checking out a new restaurant for dinner, if you have never been there before, reviews will be the most important aspect of looking for a quality restaurant.  Once you have dined at the restaurant, you can now contribute to the restaurant’s online story through social media by posting videos or photos of your food and experience. Reviews are most valuable before you’re a part of the experience, social media is most important once you’ve become part of the experience.

Renters view their experience through the same lens, turning to ApartmentRatings among other review sites to thoroughly understand the resident experience as well as other aspects of life at the community. Once a renter chooses to lease, they can now contribute to the community’s online story via social media. 

A renter’s journey is extremely important no matter if it is before or after a lease is signed.   Our 2018 Social Media Study shows only 14% of renters consider a community’s social media presence, ranking it at 46 of 48 when it comes to the impact of the prospects leasing decision. What does this mean in regards to a community’s social media efforts? “Do social the resident’s way” Social media has become an avenue for residents to connect and engage with the community team. Residents can sense the authenticity of a community through social media as well as the community’s personality. With more eyes on the community’s social media page, what type of posts are most important? The list below showcases the top 5 types of posts renters want to see; community improvement announcements coming in at number one. This type of post shows the renter where their money is being spent within the community, and can help to elevate a renter’s perception of value. 

Once someone has moved in and is paying rent, they want to feel a sense of community through social media. A current resident is not looking to see posts such as “rent is due”, community “rental specials”, or even pictures of a model home.  When rents are increasing, the last thing a resident wants to see is a “move-in special” posted on the community’s social media page. "Renter engagement drives social engagement.” Keep it real, post frequently and get creative.. Stay focused on doing “Social the resident’s way”; get closer to fans and be a storyteller

Our 2019 Online Renter Study shows an outstanding 62% of renters would not consider leasing if Community Managers do not respond to reviews. Only 16.8% of renters don’t read the resident reviews.  And more than ever, renters are looking beyond a community’s score, carefully reading and evaluating the content within reviews, including manager responses.

They not only want to hear what current and past residents are saying about their next potential home, but also, that management is attentive, caring, and dedicated to making their experience a good one. In the same study, we asked “how does it make you feel when an apartment community staff member responds to an online review by a resident?” The most selected option was “the management team has great customer service” and second most was “the management team really cares about their residents”. 

Two important reminders when responding to reviews is to acknowledge the reviewer and market to the reader. Here’s our recommended 5-step plan: 1) Assess the situation, 2) Appreciate the reviewer, 3) Acknowledge the positive, 4) Address the issue, and 5) Avoid the fluff. Most importantly renters are not looking for perfection in a response, but are looking for a review response to be authentic. 

Responding to reviews and creating a sense of community through social media are equally important in a community’s marketing strategy, however each has a different target audience, which means social media posts and responding to reviews should be handled differently. Remember reviews are for the renter that is still looking for a new home, while social media is about the experience that renter will encounter should they decide to become a resident.  



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Very true. When making a purchase I always read the actual reviews and often the score comes secondary. I want to learn about the overall experience.
The last time I searched for an apartment on a cross-country move, reviews which were shallow (such as 'I love leaving here, and the office person is nice. It's close to my work!') gave me no information and actually lowered my consideration of the community since they looked like a planted review. I wanted to gain insight into life at the community and knew there were undoubtedly pros and cons, and that was ok, but I wanted to know both on such a large expense.

  James Keating

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