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August 03, 2010

posted by: Carissa Drohan-Jennings

Social Media Demystified

The buzz is on.  Every time I listen to the news or watch television someone is talking about social media.  So what’s all the hype about'   

Social media is simply any website or online tool that brings people together to communicate or engage in conversation.  Everyone has heard of websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but there are still so many who are left wondering what these sites are all about.  I’m going to show you a few ways in which you can use these sites to your advantage.   

First of all, social media is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available today.  It’s free to sign up and only requires a minimal amount of time commitment.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to have direct one-on-one interactions with customers which in turn can help pave the way for a stronger relationship.  You can use these sites to respond to negative feedback, promote messages and campaigns or even influence viral word-of-mouth discussions about your buildings and your brand. 

So what are these sites and how can they work for you' 

 

Twitter 

Twitter (www.twitter.com) is an online communication platform that allows users to write and read messages of up to 140 characters in length. Messages on Twitter are called “Tweets” and they are open for public viewing.  This medium provides a unique platform for landlords.  Most cell phones, blackberries and iphones have applications that allow you to send tweets instantly wherever you are.  Imagine the benefit and improved customer service you could have by using twitter to stay connected to your audience 24/7.  By encouraging your residents to sign up and “follow” you, a real time communication scenario could be feasible. 

For example, imagine if there was an emergency at one of your buildings.  The water needs to be shut off.  Now typically this means a lot of frustrated tenants.  Why is this'  Mostly it’s because they don’t know what’s going on.  Unless they leave their apartment to go and read a posted notice, which could take a while to produce, they are left out of the loop.  Most would call their superintendent to find out what’s going on.    How great would it be to simply whip out your cell phone and be able to give your residents a heads up that the water is being shut off'  The notice goes from your phone to their phone in just a few short seconds.  Since most Twitter followers get updates on their cell phones, blackberries or iphones, the residents wouldn’t even have to leave their apartment to get the notice.   Real-time communication, now that’s added customer service! 

There are so many more options too.  What about sending promotional updates to your residents'  Or “tweeting” about upcoming vacancies and encouraging residents to “re-tweet” to their followers.  All of a sudden you’ve got word-of-mouth marketing at no cost.  Just be creative.  There are hundreds of uses for Twitter. 

 

Facebook 

Facebook (www.facebook.com) is a global social networking website that allows users to post photos, communicate with friends, join groups, play games and so much more.  Although Facebook is an obvious way for friends to stay in touch, it’s also a great platform for companies to use to stay in touch with their customers.   

By creating a profile page, companies can further interact with their residents and employees.  How does it work you ask'  Simple.  People can choose to become fans of your profile page.  When they do they’re able to read all of  the content on your page including other people’s comments, discussion topics and your status updates.  They can even see photos you post.  What a great opportunity to showcase your company and your properties!   

Want people to learn about your charity event'  Post some photos.  Would you like the public to know all of the “green” things you’re doing in your buildings'  Create environmental and other key issue discussion topics and contribute.  The point is simple, engage in conversation with the public and the public will begin developing a bond with you and your company.   

On a side note, what I’d love to see someday is for a property management company to create a viral game for Facebook users.  It is a fact that Facebook users love games.  They love to play them and they love to invite others to play with them.   What if your company created a game focused around renting and furnishing apartments.  That would be a great way to engage users with your brand and to get the buzz going about your company. 

 

LinkedIn 

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a website that enables members to create customizable profiles that detail employment history, business accomplishments, and other professional accolades. This website can be particularly helpful to landlords and industry professionals.   

LinkedIn has groups of all kinds related to the business world.  If you join groups such as “Apartment and Multifamily Marketing and Operations” or “Canadian Real Estate Investors, Landlords and Suppliers” you can find a plethora of news items and discussions pertaining to the apartment industry.  There is also a huge opportunity for networking with others in your industry and area.  You can create discussion topics and respond to other relevant discussions.  It’s a great way to get feedback, ideas and innovative solutions to problems you may be facing.  It’s worth checking out.