Social media may account for just 2 percent of new leases for the Bozzuto Group, but its impact can’t be measured at just one point of the process, according to panelists at the recent Multifamily Executive Conference.

It’s a primary way for companies to enhance their customer service and appease their current renters while slowly building up its brand, said Jamie Sue Gorski, senior vice president of corporate marketing at the Bozzuto Group. With the sales funnel even less linear, Gorski adds, it’s about more than just marketing. It’s all about maintaining a solid reputation.

“There’s a new mental model in marketing brought on by an extreme shift in consumer behavior,” says Carla Sgroi, e-Marketing Manager at Trinity Property Consultants, especially with the advent of so many ratings being available on properties to potential renters. “It’s easy to disregard ratings but there are a lot of things you can pull off it.”

Apps like Rentmine allow property managers to scour through ratings, pulling keywords off such ratings to visually map areas of concern to them. While one keyword map may stress common words found in negative reviews like “water,” or “noise,” another may highlight the service a property provides.

“If a conversation is going on about your brand, it’s likely going on right now online,” says social media strategist Crystal Washington. “And if you’re not there to hear it, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Management companies should pay attention to rating sites like Yelp, which have a huge trust factor among young renters and are now integrated with Apple maps on the new iPhones. They should also engage and take hold of their reputation, while encouraging renters to report any positive experiences to combat the negative ones.
“In order to have a more accurate view of your reputation, integrate positive feedback and promote this site [to renters],” Sgori says.

They should also pay attention to bloggers and key influencers who will lure followers to their brand. And just as important as it is to monitor your own site, Washington adds that to have a competitive advantage, companies must monitor their competitors and listen to their consumers, as well.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to swoop in really quick on their consumers when they mess up,” Washington says.