If you read enough online reviews, you’ll notice a pattern.
When it comes to negative reviews — in which the lowest rating is one star — there are typically a number of them that begin with: “I’d give zero stars if I could.”
Consumers check review sites before making relatively minor purchases. Now imagine you’re looking to spend thousands of dollars, move all your belongings, your family, your pets and your entire life to an apartment community. If you see a few “zero star” reviews, would you still sign the lease?
Online reviews carry more weight than ever before. The most recent local consumer review survey conducted by BrightLocal found that 97 percent of consumers check online reviews for local businesses today. This is a notable increase from 2015, which showed that 92 percent of consumers read reviews.
The increasing importance of online reviews means apartment reputation management is crucial. An efficient strategy for addressing negative reviews can help to ease some of their impact, and it can also reinforce the favorable impression of positive reviews.
What Apartment Review Sites Matter Most?
Yelp and Facebook are the most trusted review sites, BrightLocal’s survey showed, with 20 percent of survey responders choosing one of the two as their favorite place to look for reviews. Google comes in third, with 16 percent saying it’s their go-to.
It’s crucial to also consider niche review sites, too — Google’s algorithm tends to account for industry when ranking listings, even more so when “review” is one of the search terms. So it makes sense that sites like Rent.com, Apartments.com, ApartmentGuide.com, and RentersVoice.com are all in the top results when users search for apartment reviews.
Focusing on these sites, where Google reviews would be most likely to appear, is a solid strategy.
How to Monitor and Protect Your Online Reputation
Manually doing Google and social media searches for your apartment community every day isn’t the best way to capture what people are saying about you online. It’s time-consuming and might not be comprehensive.
One of the most basic ways to watch for mentions of your property online is to set up a Google Alert. These alerts allow you to track any mentions of your apartment community on blogs, forums, news sites and the wider web.
Mentions are delivered to your inbox in real time, or you can choose to receive your mentions once per day or once per week. If you’re in close competition with other apartment communities, it’s smart to also create alerts for them, too.
Google Alerts don’t cover social media, so it’s important to also use a social media management tool in addition to Alerts. There are many platforms available that allow you to find and filter social conversations on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare. Some, such as Respage, will alert you of new incoming reviews.
Keeping track of your mentions on social media and beyond is a good first step, but you’ll need to be aware of what’s happening on review sites, too, since they carry so much weight.
Reputation and reviews go hand-in-hand. In fact, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 49 percent of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business, BrightLocal’s survey shows.
Some apartment management companies have property managers or marketing professionals at the corporate level manually logging in and checking the review sites on a daily basis then come up with responses.
Or, you can have a reputation management platform do the heavy lifting. Outsourcing review response has become the industry standard in the multifamily sector, and it’s easy to see why: the explosion of review sites and social media has made it a challenge to keep up with what’s being said, come up with helpful responses, and mitigate any potential damage to an apartment community’s reputation.
If you need help responding to reviews and creating a positive image for your community, contact one of our representatives to discuss our online reputation management services.