As a property manager, you know that prospective tenants are swayed by your online presence. Here’s how you can use reputation management to put your best face forward.
In the digital age, your property’s reputation may precede you. Negative or false comments about your building can affect how others view your site, sometimes even before seeing it in person. Reputation damage is a growing problem — almost half of adults in the United States find negative results about themselves online.
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A Harris Interactive poll found that 75 percent of American adults have Googled themselves, and 48 percent say that the results were not positive.
“Despite the importance of having a positive presence in search engines, most U.S. adults are not accurately represented online, with no clear idea what to do about it,” the report states.
The survey goes on to find that nearly half (42 percent) of the respondents say that they would Google someone before doing business with them. Forty-five percent said that they found something in an online search that influenced their decision not to do business with the person. Conversely, 56 percent said that they found something that influenced their decision to do business with the person.
The problem is complicated, and often hard to keep an eye on and correct. When monitoring reputation status, most digital marketers consider social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest) the most important platform to watch carefully. According to the digital marketing firm Clutch, 46 percent of business use social media the most to monitor online reputations.
A lesser visible place where your reputation could take a beating is in third-party reader comments (think Yelp). Online opinions about you and your business are laid out in black and white, for the entire world to see. Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business, according to a recent survey by BrightLocal. The survey reveals that 57 percent of consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars, and that 91 percent of 18-34 year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Here are a few tips to stay one step ahead of possible damage to your online reputation:
- Always be auditing. Make Googling your property a regular habit. Be sure to go as deep as at least three-to-five previous pages. Make a note of any negative comments or incorrect information.
- Be alerted. If a negative comment about your site occurs, you can find out about it the minute it hits the search engine. Schedule Google Alerts for your name and your property, so that you can perform your damage control and response in a timely manner. You may even be able to get the negative content removed if it is untrue or malicious.
- Establish internal best practices for reputation management best practices. Designate one or a few staff members to manage your property’s Google business and Yelp pages and to make sure to respond to comments in a timely manner.
- Get support. Online Relationship Marketing (ORM) companies specifically work to protect you and your reputation while you can focus your energies on your business. These companies work full time to track and protect your reputation — time that you most likely wouldn’t be able to dedicate. Check the Better Business Bureau for a reputable company near you.
- Dominate your domain. Don’t wait for somebody else to claim your personal/business name online. If you haven’t already, be sure to open social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yelp). Register your personal or business name with an online service like GoDaddy, including domains such as .com, .us., and .biz.
- Keep it discreet. It can be fun to be silly or opinionated with close friends online on your personal account, but in many cases, your name is associated with the site you manage, and you may not want your particular brand of humor or political views to get in the way of your tenants’ perceptions. Make use of privacy settings to keep your private social media private. When conducting business online, keep it professional — and leave questionable humor and politics out of it.
- Count to ten. Responding in anger or emotion to a negative post about you or your property could only make you look worse and could damage your reputation. Before you give in to a knee-jerk reaction to an online troll, take a moment to calm down first so that you can gather your thoughts. When responding to a negative post, do so in a mature, calm, respectful manner. Don’t descend to their level. Take the high road. It will be reflected in how tenants and potential tenants see you.
- Say you’re sorry. If you did, in fact, mess up in a way that could damage you or your building’s reputation, it’s best to own it, and right away. Be genuine and transparent in your online apology. If possible, offer to make up for it in some way. A few additional follow-up posts may also help ease tensions, but ultimately it will be best to move on quickly and put it behind you.
- Be present. The best way to build a good reputation is to post frequently and honestly. Let your following get to know who you are, and that your business has the best intentions. If there is a problem, address it up front. Show your following that you are in tune, aware and approachable. This can go a long way in combating any negative comments that may appear on your page. Most people do expect to read at least some negative feedback, but frequent, positive, honest postings can help reduce its impact.
- Be patient. Even if you find content that may do damage to your property’s reputation, it may take a while to deal with it. Usually, it’s not an overnight fix. However, if you continually work toward monitoring and correcting any negative content, you will get ahead of any trouble on a more regular basis and have a plan in place when action is needed.
Be proactive about tenant satisfaction before they post their comments — read our blog post on how to create the most effective tenant satisfaction survey.
One way to protect your online reputation is to be known for a safe and secure property. In fact, a recent Kingsley Associates survey showed that among the 670,000 renters surveyed, property security fell into the top six renewal decision factors. Property managers who take the time to address safety concerns and help prevent crime and accidents make their tenants feel safer, and that could be reflected through online comments. You can definitely be sure that if a tenant does not get the help he or she needs in an emergency situation, they will let others know.
Kings III emergency response service provides the property safety that brings peace of mind and tenant satisfaction. All the while, you mitigate risk and liability exposure. It’s just one more way to exercise damage control over your property, and to reassure your tenants and visitors that you are on the case. Find out more about our services here.