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

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