Making the Most Out of Online Reviews
By Jennifer Worsham
Not being afraid to ask for reviews is the only way to upgrade your online review process.
For the student housing industry, online reputation management has been a vital part of our leasing and marketing efforts for several years. Industry research has discovered that online reviews account for 47 percent of the total influence on where a college student decides to live.
As these tech-savvy students become the tech-savvy consumers in the workforce and market-rate rental market, the need for effective online reputation management will touch all parts of the multifamily housing industry.
Here are four keys to making sure your community’s online reputation is attractive to prospective residents.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews:
If you have a resident who has renewed their lease, it is a safe bet you have a satisfied customer. If they haven’t already left a review on an apartment search site or on a social media platform, such as Facebook, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to share the experience.
2. Respond to all your reviews:
Good or bad, prospective residents are going to judge your property on how quickly you respond to online reviews. For a positive review a quick “thank you” is all that is needed. Negative reviews require some research and a delicate touch. Apologizing for what ails them and offering to rectify the problem (if possible) goes a long way for prospective residents. Cookie-cutter responses don’t make a good impression, and no response at all is disastrous.
3. Make sure your social media is ship-shape:
In student housing, Instagram is the top social media platform for day-to-day interaction, but Facebook currently reigns supreme when a prospect is searching for a new community to call home. Students focus primarily on reviews and pictures when using Facebook as a search tool. Make sure the photos and videos of your community show lots of curb appeal. Also, post pictures of amenities being used and any resident functions. The next generation of residents are visual and want to live someplace fun and inviting, and social media is often where you make your first impression.
4. Use your reviews:
By integrating your reviews into your overall sales message, you give a larger voice to satisfied residents, which leads to a more positive online presence.
Managing your online reputation doesn’t require a lot of time. With timely action and a personal touch, it won’t take long for your online reputation to bring in tomorrow’s satisfied residents.
Jennifer Worsham is Vice President of Operations at EDR.