Rescuing Your Reputation

I was looking through someone’s Facebook album the other day and came across 17 identical pictures of a flower.

Enraged by picture six, I wanted to contact this acquaintance and politely explain that I have absolutely no interest in seeing a daisy they found on the side of the road one time, let alone 17.

Now, a field mouse sharing a biscuit with a panda bear in the emergency lane, or a three-legged mini-horse, or the cast of “Who’s the Boss?” piled into a Honda Civic—these are things I’d admire from a variety of angles. But enough with the flowers!

Such a misstep may seem insignificant, but what this offender didn’t realize was that in addition to momentarily “stealing my joy”—something Oprah finds inexcusable—they also damaged their online reputation.

In the age of social-media overload, how you conduct yourself online—both personally and professionally—makes a difference.

Consider those who….

1) Use five hashtags in a single Tweet, #less #is #more #be #damned;

2) Post vague cries for help on Facebook—often in the form of Adele lyrics—then act incredibly coy when concerned friends ask them what’s wrong;

3) Log their every waking moment, from how many popcorn kernels they found in their teeth while flossing to a play-by-play of a recently discovered bunion

The list, unfortunately, goes on. And chances are, we no longer go on these people’s Facebook pages or Twitter accounts or blogs. They’ve lost us.

But as apartment professionals, you can’t afford to lose people. What you say and do online matters—a lot.

According to Tyler Holmes, Account Manager for Catalyst, over 50 percent of adults Google each other and over 90 percent of B2B consumers search online when starting the buying process.

If you receive a negative response from someone on a social media site, such as Yelp or apartmentratings.com, take a minute to craft an appropriate and thoughtful response. Thank the reviewer, apologize regardless of whether or not you feel you were in the wrong, follow-up (offline) and keep the responses as short as possible.

Much like seeing your reputation destroyed on the door of a bathroom stall in high school, reading a negative—and often inaccurate—review can be very upsetting. Regardless, you need to put down the Sharpie and resist the urge to retaliate.

Don’t repeat the negative comments, don’t include your company name when responding, don’t respond to ugly reviews that attack staff or are offensive, and don’t make excuses.

If you are fortunate enough to receive a positive review or comment, repeat the company’s name and the positive remarks when you thank the prospective resident for his or her review.

And while you’re at it, log on to Facebook and remove the album dedicated to the new garden hose at your community.

Unless of course Tony Danza is in the background.

For tips on managing your online reputation, check out Marketing Insider in the April issue of units, which mails April 8.