In today’s rental market, online reviews have become a key differentiating factor for properties, and it’s essential to deploy a strategy to monitor, respond, and leverage reviews. After all, 80 percent of renters consider reviews important to their apartment search, and 75 percent look at ratings and reviews multiple times during their search.
In the multifamily industry, it’s difficult to scale your online reputation management efforts across 100s to 1000s of properties. Utilizing a social media and reputation management tool, like SOCi, empowers the corporate team and individual properties to take control of the portfolio’s online reputation.
As a part of this content series, SOCi sat down with some of our customers and asked about their strategic approach to different components of localized social marketing. Our hope is that other marketers can read through the answers and learn best practices from the multi-location companies that are excelling!
Fogelman Properties has a proven online reputation management strategy – they truly understand the importance of a proactive approach to reviews in the multifamily industry.
Q&A with Fogelman Properties
According to its website, Fogelman Properties is a fully integrated property management and investment company that manages over 28,000 apartment homes in 88 communities. Jeremy Lawson, former Reputation Manager for Fogelman Properties, answered the following questions on the company’s best practices for online reputation management.
1. Tell us about your experience using the SOCi platform for your reputation management needs and how long you’ve been using it.
Fogelman Properties began our partnership with SOCi four years ago, and we started with social media services. The relationship has since expanded, and as of spring 2019, SOCi provides Fogelman with reputation management services. After vetting and discussions with key stakeholders, we made the decision to migrate and consolidated platforms. The SOCi reputation management product was still new at the time, but we were comfortable with the upgrade given our extensive history with SOCi’s social products and dedicated support. In the property management industry, change can be tedious and challenging. We’re sensitive to sacrificing our team’s time (and sanity!) when onboarding new products and solutions. Onsite teams who manage reviews and use the product daily provided overwhelmingly positive feedback after the switch to SOCi earlier this year. The implementation, in comparison to previous tools, was surprisingly simple as well.
2. What were your main challenges before you started using SOCi? What have been the greatest benefits you’ve received from using the platform? And what is your favorite part of the SOCi offering?
Prior to our relationship with SOCi, we had no way to gauge the success of our social and online reputation management (ORM) efforts. While the team could review specific campaigns and conversion reports, we had no holistic reporting capabilities. Making the decision to consolidate our social and ORM products was a huge win for Fogelman. Additionally, SOCi provided our team with an incredible time saver as it relates to set up, training, support, and reporting.
3. Tell me about what surprised you the most or made you the happiest about using the SOCi platform?
We are now moving forward with our social strategy and not “treading water,” as we previously did, just trying to keep up with evolving platforms. Our company can now review a plethora of metrics, dive down into insights, and make the important decisions that will impact our efforts in retention and leasing.
4. SOCi defines Localized Social Marketing (LSM) as marketing efforts that focus on building a local presence for a business, leveraging locally-driven communication channels to reach the specific local communities it serves (rather than a broad/national approach). Based on this description, do you see localized social marketing (LSM) as a key area of focus in your marketing mix today? Why or why not?
The digital marketing space changes daily– from ratings and reviews to new rules and regulations – each platform demands even more attention. The Fogelman team is impressed by SOCi’s level of service as LSM is now a key area of focus in our marketing mix. SOCi’s support ensures our sales and support team can remain nimble and respond to our changing needs.
As a well-versed reputation manager, I “geek out” when discussing and analyzing the customer journey. It’s interesting to dive in and understand, “How will they find us?” and “What can we do to increase our odds?” Any marketer would agree; our initial goal is to increase awareness and ultimately drive customer engagement. We can then shift our focus to converting prospects into residents, and begin our retention process. At Fogelman, we recognized the need to invest in the digital space more than 10+ years ago. While the landscape has changed drastically, we continue to invest in localized social marketing (LSM).
5. When thinking about the areas of LSM, which include local profile pages like GMB, review sites like Yelp and local social pages on site like Facebook – are these areas generally managed or maintained centrally by corporate marketing or decentrally – meaning these assets are managed at the individual local or a hybrid of the two?
One area where our focus has changed regarding LSM is how our corporate Fogelman team can support onsite initiatives. We still believe social content should employ a hybrid approach, as our onsite teams are better equipped to address hyperlocal concerns and community residents. However, listing management was taken off their plate and is now centrally managed by corporate.
6. Based on the above-mentioned management approach, what are some key challenges or issues you are facing in your LSM program?
Our industry, like others, will continue to struggle with integrations, and terms and conditions violations as it relates to these areas. However, having a team of partners in place that understands the intricacies and takes proactive measures is key. We are confident that SOCi will be one of those partners.
7. Please rank the following areas of LSM on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being not at all important and 5 being critically important to your business:
- Local Ratings & Reviews – 5
- Local Search Pages like Google My Business (GMB) – 5
- Quick response to consumer questions and reviews – 5
Data has proven how important ratings and reviews are in search engine optimization. We can spend extensive budget on PPC and SEM campaigns, but local search is still a key driver. Once we get prospects our pages, we know 90 percent of users will read the reviews. The review response is what can make or break the sale.
8. If you had to select a review platform that is the most impactful for your business, which would you choose and why?
I strongly believe that Google will continue to chip away at our overall review volumes. We have seen a steady increase in reviews on the GMB platform over the past five years. While other sites enjoy the benefits of reviews, via search engine optimization, Google creates the algorithm and also serves up the results that showcase their products in the best light.
9. If there is one learning or pitfall you have learned through your LSM efforts that you would like to share with other marketers, what would that be?
Over the years, I have learned that we cannot stop adapting. Our landscape will continue changing, and it’s impossible to intimately understand the entirety of the digital space. My best piece of advice would be to attend as many webinars and conferences as you can. This year, I’ve been focusing our educational efforts on liability and risk. Keep learning and find a great partner to support you.
Don’t know where to get started with your LSM strategy? Download the Property Management Playbook for Localized Social Marketing!