Monday, February 25, 2008

The Multifamily Social Media Toolkit: Part I

I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural NAA Student Housing Conference last week, and the first day of sessions went something like this:

"Millenials are different. Here's how to market to them..."
"Here's a primer on development."
"Let's talk operations."
"RealPage. Yardi."

Don't get me wrong ... The conference was excellent, especially for a first-time event. But it struck me that, for all the talk about the largest of the social networking sites frequented by these students, much of the conversation was not incredibly accurate or useful for our marketing purposes.

I'm not going to dispute whether advertising on these sites is effective -- you have measurement tools to tell you that. But in general, I think our industry could use social media tools more effectively if we took some time to learn how other successful companies -- and our residents -- are using these sites.

Start by listening.

Before you jump into the deep end of social networks, you need to know where you stand. What are your residents and others saying about your community online?

Not every resident posts a review on Apartment Ratings. Do some exploring. Search for your property name and neighborhood on Technorati and Google Blogsearch. Set up a search engine alert so you'll be notified anytime another website mentions your community.

Don't do anything yet if you find a negative post ... we'll get to that soon. For now, just listen. Spend some time understanding how your property is perceived online.

While you're getting a handle on your community's web presence, you can also observe others. Find an RSS reader that you like (Google Reader, Bloglines, Sage for Firefox, etc.), and start subscribing to interesting blogs and websites. See how others shape their online story. Every blog has its own persona ... here are a few for you to get started:

Apartment Marketing Blog
The Ground Floor
Seth Godin
Duct Tape Marketing

Pick a few you like, see how others do it, and start to develop a style in your mind that will work for you, your staff and your community. In Part II, we'll start managing your web presence by creating an online voice for your property.

From This Post:
Apartment Ratings
Google Blogsearch
Google Alerts
Google Reader
Sage Firefox Plug-in

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Retailers Provide DTV Education, But Is It Enough?

Lately, the questions from property owners surrounding next year's transition to all-digital TV have started to increase. Don't worry if you not familiar with this ... most of your residents aren't, either.

Both broadcasters and retailers are taking steps to educate consumers. Circuit City was the latest to step in, announcing this week that they would launch a year-long education campaign in advance of the February 2009 switch. This follows announcements from Best Buy and Wal-Mart about similar programs earlier this week.

As part of the effort, Circuit City will present an interactive web forum with Sound & Vision Magazine on Feb. 19. Both Circuit City and Best Buy will start stocking DTV converter boxes the weekend of Feb. 17 in preparation for the first round of coupon buyers.

So I ask, will it be enough? As a property owner or manager, are you making any special efforts to educate your residents (and your staff) that they might be affected by this impending change? Folks expect to be able to come home, fall onto the couch and tune into their favorite programs ... especially now that they'll have something to watch besides reality shows.

And besides your residents, have you looked at how this will affect your own TVs throughout your community? Any TV that is already connected to a set-top box from a cable or satellite company won't be affected by this at all, but my guess is that many properties still have analog TVs in fitness centers, lounges and other common areas that are about to become expensive paperweights.

Now might be the time for a conversation with your video service provider and a quick property audit to determine how much February 17, 2009 will affect you.