Reputation Management

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1 Reputation Management How to Take Ownership of Your Properties Online Reputation

2 Introduction Are you managing your online reputation or is it managing you? 02 It s estimated that 60 percent of a company s market value is attributed to its reputation, 1 making it more valuable than ever. At the same time, your company s reputation is also more vulnerable than in the past. While bad publicity and negative comments passed on by word-of-mouth have always been threats to a Part of succeeding in this new, fast-paced media universe is taking chances and experimenting because there s another way to fail in all this, and that s to be totally silent, totally conservative and miss opportunities. Henry Copeland, CEO of ad network Blogads 2 company s reputation, now there are a number of factors that magnify that threat to much larger proportions. Consumers have greater knowledge than ever before and they are using it to swing the balance of power in their favor. Forrester calls this the Age of the Customer. In today s digital world, the customer voice is now greatly amplified one person can reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of people instantly with both comments and supporting evidence in the form of photos, videos, and uploaded documents. Hanging in the balance is your company s reputation. That s why it s imperative that your company put a comprehensive strategy in place to manage and protect your properties online reputation. Without a strategy and a plan of action, you risk shrinking occupancy rates, declining rent and revenue, and a negative impact on your bottom-line business performance. This white paper highlights the impact of the online conversation on consumers decisions and the growing volume and influence of the customer s voice. It outlines a pragmatic strategy for monitoring and managing online conversations about your properties. You ll learn how to successfully engage with renters online to protect and improve the online reputation of your properties. 1. The company behind the brand: in reputation we trust, Weber Shandwick, January Brand #Fail: Saddled by a wave of online faux pas, marketers struggle to break through the wall of consumer criticism, Adweek, May 15, 2012

3 Your Reputation Has Gone Digital Renters are trading opinions online with others are you engaging in the conversation? 03 In the past, one unhappy customer might tell nine friends, but today one unhappy customer tells Google. With the proliferation of review sites and social media networks, it s incredibly easy for renters to spread the word good or bad about your 92 percent of Internet users read product reviews and 89 percent say that reviews influence their purchasing decision. 3 properties. That means that whether you like it or not, the reputation of each of your properties has gone digital. Your brand is being discussed online by current and former renters. Prospective renters are very likely finding and reading reviews about your properties right now. And what those reviews say about your property, your property management, and your business carries a great deal of weight with potential renters who are reading them. According to emarketer, consumers trust other consumer reviews nearly 12 times more than they do a business own pitch. 4 Savvy businesses understand that they need to start participating in customer conversations that are happening online. There are benefits to engaging with renters beyond monitoring and managing your reputation. Just as you gain insight from speaking with renters in person, participating in online conversations also lets you: Identify areas of improvement Nurture ambassadors who love your property and want others to feel the same Seize more opportunities for soliciting positive reviews of your business Curious about what people are really saying about your properties? Request a free Reputation Score of one of your properties now. Get a Free Reputation Score 3: emarketer, February : The Role of Customer Product Reviews, emarketer, November 2, 2010

4 A Strategy for Online Reputation Management It s time to take ownership of your reputation. 04 We ve discussed why you need to worry about your online reputation. Now let s talk about how you can harness the power of this digital word-of-mouth to not only protect and manage your reputation, but increase leads, rentals, and revenue with positive reviews and comments. To be clear, it s not about defending your company and your properties it s about engaging in valuable conversations with renters and turning them into property advocates who post positive reviews. A good reputation management strategy will help you achieve just that. To be effective, you need a thorough, well-executed strategy that consists of the following four core elements: 1. Set Up - Being where your renters are online 2. Monitor and Evaluate - Listening to what is being said and analyzing it for trends 3. Take Action - Engaging in the conversation 4. Focus on the Renter Experience - Delivering amazing experiences at every touchpoint In the next few pages, we ll focus on each of these core elements in detail, providing tips and best practices to help you understand how you can implement this strategy in your business and make it an important part of your marketing strategy. According to a New York University study, as many as 90 percent of customers will be less likely to buy from a business if the company leaves unanswered queries on its blog or website How to Shield Your Brand s Social Reputation, Mark Nicholson, jeffbullas.com, May 2012

5 1 Set Up: Be Where Your Renters Are You can t participate in conversations if you don t know about them. 05 The first element of your strategy is to set yourself up for success by having a presence in all the relevant social media and review sites that your current and prospective renters are visiting online. Start by claiming, optimizing, and maintaining your online business profiles including LinkedIn, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo! Local, City Search, and Google+ Local (formerly Google Places). You ll want to pay special attention to Google+ Local. Why? Because Google is the most popular search engine with over a 65% market share and Google+ Local pages are now becoming more prominent in its search results. Google+ Local pages are viewed millions of times a day, and Google has logged more than 5 million business listings. 6 For businesses, Google+ Local can function almost as a secondary website, but with a major difference: the voice of the company and that of the customer are displayed together on one page. That means that what your company is saying about your property is located right next to what your renters are saying about it. This makes your Google+ Local page a very important part of your online presence and managing your online reputation. 75 percent of buyers are likely to use social media in the purchase process 7 6. Google 2011 Data 7. Inside View Infographic, March 2012

6 2 Monitor and Evaluate: Listen to What s Being Said Gain insight into what renters think about your properties. 06 Next, you need to monitor what renters are saying about your properties online. Start by setting up free, automatic updates to alert you whenever your properties are being discussed. You can set these up on Google News and Yahoo!, as well as major review sites such as Yelp, Yahoo! Local, City Search, and others in your area. Check your Google+ Local pages and Google+ page regularly for new posts or reviews. You also need to monitor conversations on your Facebook pages, YouTube channels, blogs, Twitter accounts, and anywhere else where people are discussing experiences with your brand and your properties. To turn what you hear into valuable insight, you ll also want to spend some time analyzing what is being said. Specifically, you should: Look for trends in sentiment are comments mostly negative, positive, or neutral? Group what you re hearing by topics to see if there are patterns Identify any areas where the renter experience can be improved Create an action plan based on what you re hearing 8 out of 10 U.S. Internet users say that negative information they read online made them change their mind about a purchase decision webpronews.com/the-importance-of-online-brand-reputation

7 3 Take Action: Join the Conversation It s not a conversation if only one person is talking. 07 When it comes to interacting with companies, consumers want them to be responsive, transparent, and helpful. They don t want blatant marketing messages, insincerity, or a hard sell. To avoid disappointing or angering your current and prospective renters, you should follow proven social media best practices. The following table provides some best practices for when to respond and what to say as well as situations when you should not engage. Always Respond When... The comment is in a channel that your brand controls such as your Facebook page or your Google+ Local page. Someone posts a positive review. Someone posts a complaint or negative review for which you have a solution or remedy. Someone asks a question you can answer in a timely and concise way. What You Should Say/Do... Always be professional, transparent and honest. Don t be sarcastic. Don t attempt humor. Acknowledge and thank the person for their positive comment. Don t make your response too short. Take the time to address the topic of the review. Offer a solution publicly to any problems raised for which you have a solution. If the complaint is about a problem out of your control (a noisy street for instance), consider contacting the poster offline to discuss further. Answer in a brief and helpful manner and offer further assistance. If it s a question you can t answer, consider reaching out to the person offline to discuss. Always Respond When... What You Should Do... The post is clearly spam or an ad. The writer uses profanity or offensive language, or the comment is overly aggressive and/or emotionally charged. Ask the website to have the post removed. Ignore the post, and if it violates the websites guidelines, report it and ask to have it removed. You suspect that it s a fraudulent post. Report it to the social network or site as a potential fraudulent post.

8 4 Focus on the Renter Experience Your reputation depends upon renter satisfaction at every touchpoint. 08 Even the best online reputation management strategy can t mask underlying deficiencies in your business operations that negatively impact customer service and the renter experience. In that situation, the only way to change the online conversation in your favor and protect your reputation is to change your business processes and the renter experience. While listening to online and offline renter comments can point you to areas of improvement in your operations that impact the renter experience, you also need to focus on the digital experience. With more and more renter interactions occurring online, you need to ensure that every digital experience is optimized as well. Start by thinking about the customer lifecycle from prospect to applicant, applicant to renter, and renter to advocate for your property. Your goal is to deliver amazing experiences at each step of the lifecycle and at every digital touchpoint in that lifecycle. Is your website easy to use? Are you making it easy for renters to interact and transact with you online? You can also look for products and services that can help you create, deliver, measure, and optimize the kind of digital experiences that your renters desire. Ready to create amazing digital experiences? Get started with a Digital Experience Assessment

9 Take Action to Protect Your Online Reputation Start listening to and engaging with your renters online. 09 Managing your business online reputation is an ongoing process that requires consistency and diligence. That s why it needs to be a core part of your overall (DXM) strategy. As you improve your renters digital experiences with your company, you ll be helping build a positive online reputation. With a solid reputation, you can get the right renters into the right properties to maximize profitability. To start managing your online reputation, remember the four core components we ve described in this paper: 1. Setting yourself up for success by claiming and maintaining your online business profiles 2. Monitoring the conversation and evaluating what s being said 3. Engaging regularly and appropriately online with renters 4. Delivering amazing experiences at every touchpoint Find out more about G5 Reputation Manager and request a free Reputation Score of one of your properties today. Get a Free Reputation Score G5 is the leading provider of (DXM) software and services in the property management sector. The G5 DXM Platform enables owners and operators of Multifamily, Senior Living, and Self Storage properties to put the right renter in the right property to maximize profitability. G5 helps thousands of properties turn renters into brand advocates by delivering amazing experiences at every digital touchpoint. As brand advocacy grows, so does demand allowing properties to raise rents and revenue without adversely affecting occupancy. Founded in 2005, G5 was recently named one of the fastest growing private US companies by Inc. Magazine (3 rd consecutive year), one of North America s fastest growing technology companies by Deloitte (2 nd consecutive year), and one of Oregon s fastest growing private companies (3 rd consecutive year). The Bend, Oregon-based company is backed by private equity investor Volition Capital. For more information, please visit or follow our blog at /blog G5

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