5 proven methods to enhance your apartment community’s digital reputation as residents are increasing choosing their next rental online.
By Dustin Lacey
Across the multifamily housing industry, there is a heightened focus on establishing a positive rapport with residents online. Why the shift? While computers and smartphones have been around for a while, residents are showing an increasing appetite for choosing their next home online, even without an in-person visit. So much so that today’s potential multifamily community residents are turning to online reviews to make the final apartment decision.
US Digital Partners suggest that “In 2021, 93 percent of customers read online reviews before buying a product and 94 percent of all purchases are made for products with an average rating of four stars and above.”
Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that communities are establishing, maintaining, and improving their digital reputations year-round.
We at Mark-Taylor focus on five important brand management practices when interacting with online reviews to emulate their industry-leading digital reputation in an ever-growing marketplace.
1. Infuse your values into online interactions
Your brand’s online reputation is all about first impressions—are potential residents getting a good grasp on your community’s values and overarching commitment to its residents? Whether a review is positive or negative, your brand can be strategically crafted into a thoughtful response that displays and reinforces who you are as a community or organization.
By infusing your values into each online interaction, you are on your way to becoming a trusted brand to potential residents. You can also benefit from widespread awareness/understanding and a highly competitive edge in the marketplace.
Key takeaway: The way your community or organization interacts online sets the tone for how your consumer will perceive it.
2. Look and Sound Consistent
It is highly recommended to treat your brand, or said community, as a person. How would you want them to look, sound, interact? The language used in review responses should directly follow an established brand voice. This legitimizes a community’s brand reputation and further assists in making a direct connection with current and potential residents.
Key takeaway: Your brand voice is a direct representation of your community; consistency helps consumers identify with you and easily understand your brand wherever, whenever.
3. Respect Established Response Times
A tried-and-true rule of thumb is to respond to positive reviews within 24 hours and within 48 hours to a negative review. While these timeframes strictly serve as a reference point, it is important to define an internal response system that is not only timely but can be achieved with staff members on hand. Respecting such a system has the potential to build a good rapport with potential, existing or prior residents, as well as improve your community’s online ranking. All of which allows individuals to build a better connection to the community and its staff members.
Key takeaway: Response times can enhance or diminish your digital reputation.
4. Choose Quality Over Quantity
There will be times when a mass influx of online reviews occurs. While it’s important to keep up with the demand, it’s also vital that time is being taken to give each reviewer a 5-star, personalized response. For those with positive reviews, it means responding to them with gratitude and regard. Negative reviews require one to become educated on the ins and outs of a particular issue or concern, brainstorm practical solutions, and respond in a manner that doesn’t cut corners. The response should be personal, comprehensive and overwhelmingly understanding.
It’s all about quality control—the quality of a review response should never be sacrificed because of the desire to conduct a mass response for the sake of responding.
Key takeaway: The quality of your response directly reflects upon the character of your community. At the end of the day, thoughtful (and strategic) responses are more beneficial than quick, generic responses that don’t offer a personalized experience.
5. Have an Adaptable Attitude
Innovation on a continuous basis is key, including with online reviews. Regular strategy refreshes are important to consider and conduct to better connect with residents; brand awareness can assist apartment communities in effectively leasing up. One’s digital reputation can make or break it for someone on the fence, just as it can directly affect someone’s current living experience.
Key takeaway: Refreshing your digital strategy on a regular basis can continue to elevate your digital footprint by building top-of-mind awareness, attracting desirable consumers, and even reinforcing positive interactions with current residents.
Overall, consistent and effective brand management online creates an effective digital reputation for your apartment community in the competitive multifamily housing landscape, creating opportunities for exponential growth.
Dustin Lacey is VP of Technology & Marketing for Mark-Taylor Companies. He provides strategic direction for Mark-Taylor’s marketing, communications and technology, which reaches more than 20,000 units of residents across Arizona and Nevada. Lacey utilizes his expertise to embrace innovation and take a data-driven approach to advancing the Mark-Taylor brand while overseeing a talented team.