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Social Media means having our residents market for us. Don’t be scared…

It seems like over the past five years or so, an infinite number of marketing channels have emerged. We bought pages on listing sites, then we created our own property websites.  Now web pages are generated for our property just by having a resident “check in” on Facbook or Foursquare.  Seriously!  This makes it extremely challenging for an apartment community to have one coherent brand on the web. So what’s a marketer to do? First, claim your facebook page! This can be as simple as going onto facebook and searching for your property name to see if it has already made its way onto Facebook without your knowledge. If you see your property in the search results, click on it and take a look… It probably says X number of people like this, Y number of people are talking about this, and Z number of people were here (where X, Y, and Z are real numbers). This is because everytime someone adds an interest to their profile, Facebook automatically creates a landing page for that interest. So if they like where they live… Bam, landing page!  The same thing happens if someone checks in somewhere…it will add it to an existing page or create a new one.  While it feels like this is totally out of your control, don’t worry – it’s actually a GOOD thing. It means (a) your residents like you, and (b) they’re telling their friends about your property (by virtue of publically checking in).  So how do y......
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Search Engine Optimization for Property Managers

Title tagBy Geoff Roberts, Buildium, Boston, MA Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living, my go-to response is that “I work in marketing and public relations for a software company.” That’s a sufficient reply for most social situations, but on occasion I’m asked more specifically about my job responsibilities. Inevitably I’m stopped as soon as I mention “search engine optimization” or “SEO.” While this is a small part of what I do, I’ve found that it fascinates people – they tend to look at it as something of an enigma. “I’ve never understood search engine results” or “Google makes it all up anyways” are common responses, but the probing questions regarding SEO never stop there. Regardless of the industry you are in, search engine results are likely playing an increasingly important role in your company’s ability to be found by prospective customers and others interested in the products/services your business offers. As I’ve been receiving an increasing number of emails regarding SEO from Buildium customers, I figured I’d start by laying out some of the basic tried and true practices that can help your company rank more highly in search results. What exactly is SEO? According to Wikipedia, search engine optimization is the “process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in search engines via the ‘natural’ or unpaid search results.” In plain English, when you go to Google and run a search for anything, say “Boston Property Management,” it’s the process of improving how close ......
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Your Guide to Online Reputation Management

Online reputation managementBy Peter Lamandre, Better By Design Real Estate, Scranton, PA “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” - Benjamin Franklin We all work hard to build our reputations. I was speaking with a potential property management client yesterday, when I asked him if he had any questions about my firm. His reply was simple; “Yes, are you honest?” I chuckled and reminded him that he was a referral from one of our oldest clients. The fact of the matter is that people like to do business with those they know, like, and TRUST. In property management the TRUST part is a big piece — after all the owner of the property is basically saying here is my single biggest asset, you’re in charge; please make me lots of money. In the old days you would go to a chamber of commerce meeting, or an apartment association meeting, or a similar in-person event (we still do these things). In today’s internet-driven world, clients often first find you online then send you an email or fill out an online prospect form. The consumer will then conduct research online to find out all they can about you and your firm. The hard part is knowing what is said about you online — have you ever given thought to how many websites are out there? Here are some quick stats from pingdom.com: Websites 255 million – The number of websites as of December 2010 21.4 million – The number ......
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Net Neutrality, Digital Islands, Google Instant and what this means to your social and online efforts

We, in the United States, have been blessed for the last fifteen plus years of enjoying essentially free internet. As a business, a company could purchase a domain for a few bucks and upload some html and the business was "in business". Initially, we had some digital islands, or groups, like Compuserve and AOL that made you purchase access to their hubs. Then Yahoo, MSN and other free hubs came around and eliminated the need to "pay to play". We started to once again enjoying free access to explore and search the internet. And then we fell in love with Google. Google over the last ten years gave us the power to quickly explore the millions then billions of websites just by adding in a few key words to a search. This search became very powerful, so powerful that Google realized their ability to "sell" keyword searches and bought out groups like DoubleClick to better understand the people that clicked through. Adwords, Google's primary revenue source, auctions keyword phrases that made sense to business for a certain dollar amount and business, realizing the opportunity, gobbled it up and started hiring companies or people to handle their new online ad spend. Well, this happy marriage between Google and business continues, but then emerged social and mobile technologies.  During this time period, MySpace, Napster, Friendster and eventually Facebook sprung up and created social networks, or new versions of digital islands, to connect people to each other b/c of like mindedness. As you are......
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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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93% Of Residents Have Never Visited An Apartment Community's Social Networking Page

We received this today and felt it worth sharing.  Please share your thoughts on the findings below! NEW NATIONAL SURVEY DATA INDICATES 93% OF RESIDENTS HAVE NEVER VISITED AN APARTMENT COMMUNITY’s SOCIAL NETWORKING PAGE Nearly One in Four Residents (24%) Don’t Visit Social Networking Sites At All  HOUSTON, June 29, 2010 – J Turner Research (JTR), a leading market research firm exclusively serving the multifamily industry, today released the findings of an ongoing survey indicating 93 percent of apartment residents have never visited an apartment community’s page on a social networking Web site.  Nearly one quarter of all respondents (24%) said they do not visit any social networking Web sites. The findings are based on responses from 15,964 apartment residents collected between January 1, 2010 and June 13, 2010. The overall percentage of residents who have visited any apartment community’s page more than doubles, from 6 percent to13 percent, for properties that have established a social networking page (primarily on Facebook or Twitter). Those respondents who confirmed visiting a community’s social networking page  (7%) said they visited the page to “see what other people were saying about the community” (62%), “conduct preliminary research about the apartments, floor plans or unit availability” (57%), or “find discounts or deals related to signing a lease” (37%). Only eleven percent of residents said they were visiting the page to “contact a staff member about scheduling an onsite visit,” nine percent to “refer a friend,” and eight percent were there to “initiate the leasing process to......
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Keep-Up Your Space to Get Their Space

First impressions can either take you a long way or stop you before you’ve even passed go. And when it comes to clients (both potential business associates and potential tenants), their first impression of you may very well involve your office. While it’s not necessary to spend a ton of money creating a luxurious office setting, it is important that everything is functional and presentable. Following are some low-maintenance tips that will help you and your office put a professional first foot forward. 1. Clear signage.Your client’s first impression of your office may well begin before he even sets foot through your front door. Make sure that your office space is clearly marked from the exterior so that customers can easily identify it and start things off on the right note. 2. Showcase yourself.Your office is a great place to do some self-promotion. Lining your walls with professional looking photographs of some of your most appealing properties and any awards or certificates you have sends great visual cues to potential clients. 3. Make space.Even if your office is a small space that is occupied only by you, be sure that you have some sort of seating option for clients. This can be as simple as a single, comfortable chair on the opposite side of your desk. But it is important that there is a place—whether it be just a chair or a conference table—where your client can sit down and make herself comfortable. 4. Points for hospitality.Putting potential clients at ease and making them as comfortable as ......
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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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Viruses, Social Networking, and the WWW

  Recently I have been seeing a higher than usual number of virus infected machines.  These rogue spyware/malware Trojans that disguise themselves as security messages or attach themselves to downloads seem to be increasing. The worst among these, to me, are the ones that appear to be legitimate antispyware messages.  They announce you are "infected already" and want you to "click to agree" to be scanned immediately or purchase some instant cure.  Some of the most common names of late are Internet Security 2010 or XP Security 2010, or Antivirus Soft.  You may have heard them referred to as scareware or ransomware.Rogue Security Software: (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):  is a form of computer malware that deceives or misleads users into paying for the fake or simulated removal of malware. Rogue security software, in recent years, has become a growing and serious security threat in desktop computing. More..   It got me wondering if we do enough to train and protect our staff against these threats.  As more companies accept social media as a means of networking and marketing, the lines between "work related internet" and "personal surfing" are suddenly gray.  Recently, One of my southern California properties emailed me to see if there was a way to "stop the ads from our antivirus program from popping up" on her computer.  Right away I knew there was a problem since we use an enterprise version of antivirus that doesn't expire.   After almost an entire day on remote support I finally was able......
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Top 10 Opportunities that Social Networking Offers

The Internet connects us like no other medium, and social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch and turn connections into business. Here are the top ten opportunities that social networking offers and why you should stay connected in 2010: 1.     Spread a consistent message/image to a large audience about your brand, identity, and products/services 2.     Meet people in your industry, find employees and employers, ask for referrals, and get/give advice 3.     Put a "face" on your business and show your corporate personality 4.     Help build your website's search engine ranking by cross-linking on all sites and optimizing media assets (the more quality links to your site, the better!) 5.     Compliment your existing online and offline presence (Do not replace them) 6.     Provide helpful, relevant information that is useful to the masses 7.       Turn your new and existing customers into repeat customers and fans 8.       Target specific demographics/industries/companies by using proper and consistent keywords/phrases for your audience 9.       Promote your events, promotion and specials to a wider audience 10.   Elevate your customer service to a new, transparent level Here are ForRent.com's Top 10 favorite social networking sites in 2009: 1.     Facebook 2.     MySpace 3.     Twitter 4.     YouTube 5.     LinkedIn 6.     Yahoo! Answers 7.     Flickr 8.     del.icio.us 9.     Digg 10.  Stumbleupon...
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