It’s no secret that review platforms can make a difference in a consumers purchasing decision. Surveys have shown that upwards of 86 percent of consumers read reviews of local businesses, including 95 percent of people aged 18-34.
More importantly, 89 percent of consumers say they take a business’ responses on a review platform into consideration as well.
Because of this increased attention to online reviews, especially by a younger, tech-savvy consumer base, it is vital for multifamily properties to understand the best practices for managing their reputation on every review platform.
Generating Feedback on Review Platforms
All review platforms, although they appear similar, have unique terms of service.
Google, for example, hosts the majority of sought out reviews, but they regularly change their guidelines regarding review solicitation and prohibition in order to continually account for fake review generating programs.
By knowing the ins and outs of a specific review platform, multifamily properties can find the most effective ways of generating and responding to online reviews.
General Review Sites
Every multifamily property should pay attention to the largest general review platforms: Google and Facebook.
Best Practices for Google
Google is committed to creating one of the more transparent review platforms for residents and multifamily properties. Their recent 2018 update that prohibits businesses from discouraging negative reviews or soliciting positive ones backs this up. Google is also increasing their efforts to eliminate fake and inappropriate reviews aimed to undermine a development’s brand reputation maliciously.
Overall, this transparency is a good thing for brand reputation management. It means that consumers can trust the review platform to provide good reviews that are genuine and unsolicited. As for bad reviews, fake ones can be flagged and removed, while real ones will remain.
Multifamily properties have the opportunity, however, to respond to these bad reviews (as well as the good ones). Potential residents can then see these responses if made public on the review platform. This engagement helps multifamily properties to reach new and current residents.
Of course, properties can still encourage residents to leave feedback on Google and other review platforms, so long as the reviewer does not feel pressured or swayed to give just positive remarks.
Best Practices for Facebook
Facebook gives its users a bit more control over their online brand reputation. Businesses can turn off reviews entirely, which, of course, eliminates the risk of gathering negative comments, but also prevents positive reviews.
Like Google, Facebook also has measures to combat fake or inappropriate reviews. Facebook is not as specific as Google in its review solicitation policy, however.
One of the best ways to drive more reviews to Facebook is by simply letting potential residents know that your multifamily property has a Facebook page.
Though this is commonplace now, making a point of one’s online presence may lead more residents to visit and actively engage this review platform.
Facebook will also often recommend that residents review multifamily properties where they have “checked in.” Knowing this, multifamily properties might want to offer Wi-Fi to potential residents on building tours so they can actively check in and leave a review later.
Multifamily properties can also post active offers or event listings on their social media to encourage residents to check there more often.
Multifamily Review Sites
Housing inquiries are among the most common online searches. Prospective tenants take these reviews very seriously. No one wants to move into a deteriorating building or home, or deal with a lousy landlord.
Property owners must understand the importance of these review platforms, and find ways to generate more reviews and respond to them accordingly.
Best Practices for Apartments.com
Simply joining Apartments.com is a key step in making your property more visible in the market, as millions of people head there each month.
The site actively encourages owners to request reviews, as these help the site gather more information. This, in turn, helps residents make better decisions.
Multifamily properties can generate more reviews through the Apartments.com review platform by creating clear signage asking for reviews, sending out regular emails, and attaching flyers to maintenance notices.
Best Practices for Apartment Ratings
While Apartment Ratings also aims to gather more reviews, its policy dictates that property owners should not incentivize review acquisition. They prefer that the review process occurs naturally, and that good reviews are written as a result of a great experience.
Best Practices Rent.com
Rent.com is another major player among the housing review platforms, and its terms of service resemble those of most other review platforms. The site does not allow fake, hateful, or otherwise inappropriate reviews. It also warns against reviews that appear to be endorsed by or derived from the property owner.
Responding to Reviews
Regardless of which review platform a multifamily property uses, responding to these reviews is a key component of managing brand reputation.
Each site has its own guidelines for how multifamily properties may respond, though they all warn against hateful or inappropriate rhetoric.
Of course, multifamily properties should not feel compelled to respond this way at all, as such a response reflects more poorly on the business than the negative review itself.
Before responding, multifamily properties should read the criticism carefully, making sure to understand every concern. They should make sure to address these concerns in their reply and apologize for any wrongdoing or mistake.
Then, multifamily property managers must make it clear what it can and will do to improve in the future. This stated commitment is not just for the reviewer, but for potential residents to see as well. It shows that the property management organization cares about its residents and its brand reputation.
Of course, positive online reviews deserve replies as well. This is an opportunity to give thanks to the resident, which may entice them to come again or recommend the property further.
Every multifamily property should aim to generate more reviews as long as they follow each review site’s terms of service along the way.
Respectfully responding to each review, good or bad, will also help multifamily properties acquire more feedback and promote their brand.
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