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Think offline, when responding online.

As we approach the final weeks of 2013, I am very excited to announce that we have officially implemented our Online Reputation Management (ORM) program — which includes setting up Manager Center on ApartmentRatings.com. I look at this program launch as the next logical step in "embracing the conversation," and as with our social assets, our on-site teams are responsible for crafting responses to any comments that are posted online, with our corporate team stepping in to help when needed. We have used this strategy across all 50+ of our community Facebook pages, and it's worked incredibly well for us. 

Though review sites have been dubbed the Wild West of the digital world, we encourage our teams to simply think "offline" when responding online: in other words, think about what you'd say in an offline conversation, and then apply that to the online space. The below is taken verbatim from our ORM guidelines, and is at the core of our social/ORM philosophy:

Address each issue individually, and respond in a courteous, authentic, and professional way.

There's nothing fancy about that statement, but since tone can be tough to distinguish online, we have found that employing the "KISS" approach often works best: be professional, be authentic, and be helpful, and you've effectively addressed 99% of the negative comments that are posted online.

If you're trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into managing your online reviews, I'd encourage you to mull something over: if people are talking about your company/community (and chances are very good that they are), wouldn't you rather know, and be part of the conversation? Yes, it can be scary — but as the old adage goes, the devil you know is worse than the one you don't. Keep an open mind, remind yourself (and/or your team) of the basics of customer service, and jump on in. You'll be fine, I promise.

Though we are arriving a bit late to this particular party, I am immensely proud that our team is taking responsibility and "owning" what people say on the various review sites, and am very excited to see how our on-site team members handle this new challenge.

How do you approach ORM? Do let your on-site teams manage the conversation? If not, why not?


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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Congrats, Sara! It is a huge undertaking to develop an ORM program. I am so glad to hear you are empowering your site teams. No one knows what is happening at their properties better than they do, and if they can't be trusted to mange the conversation, do they really deserve to be an employee?

  Misty Sanford
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Totally agree, Misty. We used this approach when we launched all of our properties' Facebook pages a few years back, too, and our on-site teams have absolutely proven that they are up to the challenge. They do a wonderful job, and quite truthfully, don't often need assistance from the corporate level.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

  Sara Scarborough Graham
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I agree with Misty. I think trusting your staff is important and also makes your entire organization more effective. Glad to see you allow them to do this Sara. Very encouraging!

  Ryan Lucia

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