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Positive Review Peril: 5 Steps to an Authentic Online Story

Positive Review Peril: 5 Steps to an Authentic Online Story
Imagine you are planning to make a major purchase, let’s say a car for example.  You decide to check out a local dealership’s website and find nothing but 5-star ratings, hundreds of glowing reviews describing excellent service, and testimonials of loyalty from customers who are over-the-moon happy with their experiences.  At this point you’re feeling pretty confident that buying from this dealership would be a smart decision.  Or are you?  Human nature tells us a little skepticism is bound to seep in when something seems too good to be true. We’ve all been burned before; it would not be far-fetched to say in hindsight the situation at the beginning was in fact, too good to be true.  “I should have known better”…sound familiar?  Renters have also been burned before; some have spent an entire year or longer dealing with bad neighbors, inconsistent service, unresponsive management and more - none of which was depicted in the community’s marketing message.  In a previous post, I wrote people now value the written word over the actual score.  Scores, while still a prominent factor for management companies and communities, have become secondary to those seeking information.  Star ratings are following this trend as well.  According to Brightlocal’s Consumer Review Survey, 68% of respondents said they’d be willing to do business with a company that had at least a 3.5 out of 5 star rating.  Communities intent on projecting an all-positive image could be in peril.  Renters are not looking for perfection – they’re looking for authenticity.  If......
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Forget Your Rep, Worry About Mine!

Forget Your Rep, Worry About Mine!
Here’s a hard truth; residents could care less about the jobs that we do.  Residents have no clue what a day in the life of a multifamily professional entails.  I should know – I used to be one of them.  As a resident, I thought management teams had the easiest jobs in the world.  Planning parties, answering the phone, maybe showing an apartment here and there, how hard could that be?  You can only imagine how quickly and dramatically that theory was eviscerated the day I began working onsite. Management teams are a special breed.  At its core, teams do their very best to make sure residents are happy where they live.  Aside from putting in long hours, dealing with a multitude of different resident personalities and watching the bottom line to ensure owners are profiting from their investments, teams also have to contend with not-so-nice things being said about their performance in online forums. Reputation management has become prominent and prevalent in recent years.  Back in the day when I was leasing, very rarely would a prospect mention that our online reviews were the reason we were chosen over a competitor.  Nowadays, it’s commonplace for a prospect to outright take a community out of contention or sign on the dotted line squarely based on what they read online. Just as a community’s reputation is vital to its success, a resident’s own reputation can determine where they call the next year “home”.  Our SatisFacts Insite Q1 2016 analysis, released just 3 days ago, sug......
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ApartmentRatings.com Finally Creating a Positive Impression of Apartment Living?

Most people think about ApartmentRatings.com in a micro sort of way, analyzing their own community’s rating and that of their immediate competition.  But ApartmentRatings impacts the industry in a far greater way, by appearing to show what the prevailing opinion is on apartment living overall.  For example, if there was a rating site for almond butter and the average rating was 40% across the site for all brands, you would probably assume that almond butter as a whole isn’t very good, even if some of the brands had 90% ratings while others had 20%.  So in this way, ApartmentRatings on a macro level was shaping the debate on whether people really enjoyed apartment living in the first place.    Not only is this consolidated effect important on dictating existing attitudes on apartment living, but it also works to perpetuate those very attitudes.  Going back to the almond butter analogy, if you already knew that almond butter overall had a 40% satisfaction rating going into a tasting, you would be more likely to have a negative predisposition before you even started.  Most people follow the herd with reviews, so if there are thousands of negative reviews already, they will likely not question that assessment.  So the negative reviews themselves breed a negative perception.  This is why ApartmentRatings has been the biggest negative PR campaign the multifamily industry has ever seen. The winds appear to be changing, however, as big changes with ApartmentRatings.com, as well as apartment communities approach to reputation management has dra......
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A landmark new ruling that might help our case against ApartmentRatings’s anonymous postings

The Virginia Court of Appeals blew the anonymity of online ratings and reviews out of the water. Or did they? Care to weigh in?There was a decision handed down just a few short days ago (January 8th, 2014) that I think will have quite a big impact on your anonymity with ratings and reviews online. The court decision was from a case in Virginia: Yelp vs Hadeed Carpet Cleaning. The owner of this establishment said that there were anonymous users leaving bad reviews about his company on Yelp. That’s no surprise right? What was different about this case was Hadeed felt that these individuals weren't real customers of his. This last point is the most important because it established a Yelp terms of service violation. His attorneys issued a subpoena demanding the list of seven anonymous reviewers. The final ruling from the judge in Alexandria said that Yelp had to comply. Here’s the ruling from the court: (via the Washington Times) ...However, the court said that First Amendment rights do not cover deliberately false statements and agreed that Mr. Hadeed provided sufficient reason to think the users might not have been customers. What is the impact for our industry? The impact for our industry could not be more enormous. I won’t dive into what we’ve gone through as an industry with ApartmentRatings and other sites where users can leave anonymous reviews because I think those points have been done ad nauseam. Think about this though, if we could find cause that individuals are leaving posts on these sites who were never a resident or said things that are grossly untrue, could we not threaten such laws......
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