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#AptChat Recap: Managing Your Social Media Presence

Jonathan Saar - The Training FactorEveryone seems to be experimenting with social media in some way, shape or form these days (regardless of whether you think it's working or not). But one thing that many people seem to struggle with is how to manage their brand's presence across so many different platforms. After Jonathan Saar from the Training Factor posted their own case study sharing their successes with social media, we asked him to join us on last week's #AptChat for a discussion on the topic. As it turns out (really no surprise here), you all have great ideas and examples to share. Here are the highlights from the chat: How do you manage the time commitment? It seems to be HUGE time sucker in our office. David Kotowski: If you get into the habit of checking in it becomes routine and doesn't take up much time. Jonathan Saar: Time and discipline go hand in hand. There must be a routine or else you are lost. Kim Cory: I set time aside each day just like I would reviewing reports, statements, plans, emails, etc. must make effort. Mike Whaling: Focus your efforts. You don't need to be on every site. David Kotowski: Let's face it. Your employees are ALREADY checking their personal accts and sending texts during the day. Get them involved. Mike Whaling: Set routines based on goals. 1 routine for monitoring sites, 1 for creating content, etc. Jonathan Saar: Make sure you give yourself an "off" time -- that comes from my wife :)......
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Top Rental Sites SEO Rankings Report

Top rental sites share of search engine rankingsSearch engine optimization is one of the things we’re passionate about, and periodically we like to do a deep dive and get a handle on what is happening in related industries. Recently we ran across Andrew Shotlands’s post “IYP SEO Rankings Report 2009” ranking the different internet yellow pages sites by their share of competitive search engine rankings, and decided to apply a similar methodology to see how the different rental sites stacked up against each other. Since many of you use these sites to publish your rental listings, we thought you’d be interested in seeing which of these sites perform the best for the most important rental keywords in the search engines. In brief, here is the methodology we followed: Identified the top 20 rental keywords using Google Suggest and the Adwords Keyword tool (see below) Performed Google searches for these keywords in the top 20 U.S. cities, with personalization turned off (for a total of 400 geotargeted queries). Each time a site appeared in the serps, we awarded it 1 point for each position, starting at the bottom. (On a page with 10 results, the first result got 10 points, the second 9 points, etc.) Weighted each search by the U.S. monthly search volume for that keyword reported by Google. Summed up the points for each domain to determine its final score. So, in theory, this data should tell us which rental sites dominate the search engine rankings for the most important and competitive rental keywords. And here are......
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Apartment Hunting... Not So Fun

Chances are I'm not the only person who lives on both sides of the apartment hunting game. I am both - an apartment hunter and by profession an "apartment marketer". I've done the drive-in-circles, shop online, call all my friends, can't find an apartment game. And I've also coached clients on how I think they could best market to their prospects and retain existing residents. So, this morning when I saw a headline in my twitter stream "Apartment Hunting... Not So Fun" I was of course very curious. I am not at all surprised to find that this apartment searcher, Heather, is frustrated and discouraged by apartment rating sites. Right now, I'm scouring the internet for apartment listings and talking with friends about recommended neighborhoods.  I was feeling pretty good about our search. Well, that is, until I started reading the online reviews about apartment complexes.  And that took me down an entirely different path.  Pretty much every apartment complex, with the exception of those completely out of our price range, has received dismal ratings.  Ugh. Once again, ignorance was bliss.  Back to reality. As an industry we talk a lot about the best way to respond (or not) to review sites but my question to you is, have you ever thought of how much apartment hunters become discouraged because of how easy it is to find negative reviews? My suggestion - make sure all of your online marketing materials are up to date and consistent. If I can find ......
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Top Complaints & Praises in Online Reviews of Property Managers

The following word clouds are comprised of actual words and  phrases from the 3,000 reviews we surveyed.*The above word clouds are comprised of actual words and phrases from the 3,000 reviews we surveyed. In my last article we covered some of the results from our survey of almost 3,000 reviews of property management companies on Yelp and Yahoo Local (read it first). We found that while there was a mix of tenants, owners, contractors, and realtors leaving reviews, the vast majority of the reviews were left by tenants. This makes sense if for no other reason than the fact that there are far more tenants than any of the other groups. The fact that the reviews are highly polarized (love or hate) was easy to pick out, but beyond that there were a number of other common themes that came up over and over again. Here were the key issues that for tenants and landlords: Landlords Common Complaints Delayed reaction time to phone calls and e-mails Failure to promptly send out checks Excessive and/or unexpected fees (especially maintenance fees) Incompetent maintenance staff or contractors (slow, shoddy, overpriced work) Took too long to find a tenant Placing low quality tenants Common Praise Quick placement of tenant Placement of quality tenants Made the landlording process easy Professional demeanor and rapport Knowledgeable staff, understand the law and finer points of dealing with tenants Tenants Common Complaints Long-standing maintenance requests – Tenant feels ignored or like they’re being passed from person to person in an revolving door of personnel and empty promises and excuses. Run down dwelling – Everything from ......
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Fergie & Will.I.Am were their personal coach...

I gotta feeling The BlackEyed Peas will be showing up flashing Camden Residential tattoos at the 2010 NAA Education Conference and in their next music videos.

You guys gotta see this. I've tweeted it and posted on the RentWikiHouse page. 

Camden Residential ROCKS. Easy to see why the company is included in Fortune 100's "Top Places to Work".

Come on Apartment Operators...let's see what YOU've got.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtFxQeJvdd0 433x300]

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Surveying 3,000 Property Management Reviews

Breakout of property management company ratings on Yahoo LocalOver the last five years customer rating and reviews sites have exploded onto the scene as a major force in the buying and decision making process for consumers. From sites built around reviews like Yelp, to internet yellow pages (IYP's) which have incorporated them as an important feature, online reviews abound and consumers are using them to decide where to buy. Much has been said about the good and evil of rating & review sites which often struggle to balance the interests of the businesses being reviewed, the users leaving the reviews, and their own financial interests. No matter how you feel about these sites it's clear they are here to stay and affecting the businesses being reviewed. It's not uncommon to see sites like Yelp ranking on the first page for searches on company names, or to see reviews from multiple sites aggregated in the search results of Google Maps. Property management ratings on Yahoo Local Every industry has a unique set of dynamics that influence the average customer sentiment, and while we had a pretty strong hunch of how property managers fare on these sites, we decided to do the research required to get some more concrete data. We decided to use Yahoo Local as our source for reviews because of it's size and reputation as one of the largest, longest standing sites in this space. We surveyed their reviews for property management companies in the following cities: Austin Atlanta Boston Dallas Denver Indianapolis New York Orlando Phoenix Portland......
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6 Simple Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill

Energy deregulation have made it possible for the people of several states such as Texas to choose an electric company that will provide the electricity to power their homes or businesses. This power to select provided a competitive element to an otherwise monopolized industry. However consumers should continue to implement ways how they can conserve electricity. Studies have shown that a typical household would spend 44% of their power bills on heating and cooling, another 33% on lighting and other general appliances, 14% on heating water and the last 9% for the refrigerator. Knowing this info would give homeowners an insight as to what areas they should focus on to conserve energy. The following are the top ways for homeowners to conserve electricity. * Insulate Your Home A large portion of the electric bill is spent on temperature regulation. This is due largely to heat exchange or loss in the home’s interiors due to poor insulation. With good insulation, the heating and cooling systems can work efficiently and would consume less energy in order to regulate the temperature. The home should be checked for leaks that will allow heat or cold air to pass through. Check areas where insulation is weak allowing heat exchanges to occur, resulting in temperature imbalances inside the home that heaters or air conditioning would need to compensate. * Set Your Thermostat to Comfortable Levels Still on temperature regulation, limiting thermostat settings to maximum or minimum limits without compromising on comfort can give considerable savings on your......
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ASKING FOR IT. "Bring it." Nuggets are out there.

Litmus Test - Ric Campo, CEO of Camden, national REIT based in Houston, BELIEVES in litmus tests. Camden is awaiting waves and raves. Multifamily Executives are asking for it. They're sticking their toes into the water...they just want Reviews and Communication through Social Media done RIGHT. They are seeking new ways to bridge the Consumer & Community Gap. Check out these recent Tweets; A national Apartment Management Company sent out this St. Paddy's Tweet..."My Lucky Day! I just turned my first negative Resident Tweet into a Positive!" And this one during March 19th's weekly Friday afternoon Twitter #AptChat. "Rented on of our apts recently? If so, let other renters know how you like it by rating it at http:..." In an ironic twist and despite the ever-growing frustration with various apartment ratings sites, several Multifamily executives are not only willing to put their properties up for review, but they are actually asking for it. “Regarding apartment reviews, it’s not that somebody has to do it, it’s that somebody has to do it right,” said Mark Juleen, VP of marketing for the JC Hart Company based in Carmel, Indiana. “Ratings and reviews have been out there for a long time in the form of ApartmentRatings.com and now Yelp.com. The problem is, these companies aren’t fostering open communication between the renting community and the apartment community.”  Companies eager to engage in the two-way dialogue taking action today include Camden, Mission Residential, Mills Properties, Gables Residential, Urbane Apartments, and the JC Hart Company.“We believe in......
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Bouncing Back from Bad PR

Between floor mats, sticky gas pedals, and some questionable braking systems, Toyota has not exactly had the best first quarter ever.  Working in an industry where I hear people complain about the online ratings being brutal, I'm sure that those of you who've felt the sting of Apartment Ratings can sympathize, at least on some level.  Cars, apartments, Walmart - Bad PR is always the same. (Except for Walmart... they deserve to wiggle on the hook a bit.)  Turning around a problem is all about how you react to it.  Did Toyota drop the ball on this one?  Okay, yeah they did.  Run away gas pedal = uber scary and media hype-ability.  It WAS bad.But they fessed up.  See, this is the part where you get to start turning the bad stuff around.  Denial is easy, but not productive and not helpful to your reputation.  A real step 1 is ALWAYS the same: Fess Up.  Toyota had to recall over 400,000 Prius Hybrids and the total vehicle recalls tallied around 8.5 million.  Expensive, but to save their brand, it was necessary.  They might have acted a bit slow for the needs of the immediate gratification American society, 55% of whom, according to a recent Gallup poll, aren't happy with the response time.Step 2: Resist the urge to tell people how they're totally blowing this out of proportion.  Look, I ran the numbers here.  We are talking about 19 unarguably tragic deaths in a span of 10 years, counted across 20 MILLION......
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Turn the Rating Review site into your NEW BEST FREE Marketing tool

  The rating review sites are being read by tons of people trying to find an apartment! Unfortunately, People reading there are swimming in a slug of negative complaints, nasty attitudes and bad manners. How refreshing and Unexpected would it be to read a motivational quote, hear about a food drive on a property or see a funny riddle - compliments of the Management Team? How would they feel if they saw a link to the pictures of your residents at the "Race for the Cure" or had a chance to read about your teams "Random Acts of Kindness" campaign? I am not suggesting you ignore the negative, respond to it with diplomatic flair and THEN - share some of your GENEROSITY & HUMOR!!! Are you ready to STOP letting the rating review sites be a PAIN? Follow the link below to a discussion on the TotallyToni.com Fan page. This is a combination of a two-day conversation from my FB wall - about a series of new ideas! It's time to see the review sites as a social media tool and adopt new policies that generate quality leads & leases. This is a marketing opportunity - not just a review site. Reviews are not the only information you can post! In this discussion we review the TOS from the top sites with great input from Mike Whaling about what to put where!  It is time to surprise people and make this powerful online space work FOR US!  Here is the l......
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