So, you finally want to go “Social?” You’ve sat back and watched to see if it works for other companies and properties in your area before taking the leap yourself, but now, you’re pretty sure that this Facebook thing isn’t going away. Time to suck it up and deal with this mess, right?
There are a lot of people who are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the social media world, and if what I said above is your take on this situation, you’re right about one thing. Barring a worldwide shut down of the internet, Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But is Facebook really where you want to start?
I say no.
Granted, when I’m working with a company that wants a social media presence, a Facebook page (NOT PROFILE) is central to that development. But it’s not step number one or even step number two. You have to learn to walk before you run, and Facebook is a marathon to which we all have yet to see an ending ribbon.
Step number one is to learn how to listen online. It sounds simple right?
Most people can’t even master really actively listening in person, and now you’re adding a filter of technology over the top of that? Simple isn’t quite the word I’d choose. Let’s address that filter of technology and the tools that are out there.
I’ve talked about Google alerts before, and in my opinion, they are still one of the best tools out there for monitoring your brand and reputation online. If you go to www.google.com/alerts you can set up an alert for ANYTHING. Try your own name if you want to see how it works. For your property or company, I’d recommend setting up two different alerts to start with – Your property/company name and the common misspellings of your property/company name. Anytime someone posts something about your property or company and the Google spiders find it, they email you a link to the posting.
Next, if you haven’t claimed your YELP! listing yet, you’re behind the times and really need to get on that. Yelp is fantastic because it provides a mobile platform accessible forum for feedback. People aren’t waiting until they get to a computer to rant about poor customer service anymore. They’ve got an app for that.
Likewise, even though the usage penetration is less than 10% of the American population, Twitter is a platform that should not be ignored. Besides the fact that 80% of Twitter users are on the mobile platform (using an app, just like YELP!), those who have embraced the platform and who are active users make up a very vocal sector of consumers. These users have taken Twitter and made it a customer service platform – whether the companies choose to embrace it or not. There are good examples of companies who have embraced it (Check out @Comcastcares), and there are horror stories (“We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of company…”), so listening here can have a huge payoff.
And, everyone’s favorite rant site, Apartment Ratings, also needs to be part of your plan to listen. Yes, I know – we all hate it, it’s unfair and biased, why should we have to pay to respond, people post to be vindictive, etc., but at the end of the day, no matter what our objections to the platform are, it’s still there, and people are still posting to it and checking it before they call us looking for a new lease. Since we can’t dispose of it (and I’m not advocating anyone hire a black hat hacker to get rid of the site…tempting as it may be.), we shouldn’t ignore it. Consider paying for manager access on this site so that you can respond to the unhappy residents who post here. I know it’s a burr under the saddle to pay someone so that you can deal with the complaints, but if you can save just one lease from walking out the door or encourage another lease to walk through because you’re talking WITH your residents, not just AT them, then it could all be worth it. AR can also be set up to email you when new comments or posts are uploaded to your property’s profile, which helps you stay on top of potential issues.
These are just 4 basic tools that you can use to start reputation monitoring and listening into what people are saying about your brand. Once you start hearing what people are saying, you have to learn to really listen – the topic we’ll cover tomorrow!