Credit: James Provost

Facebook gives, but it can also take away.

Some of the industry’s top marketing experts revealed what works and what doesn’t in navigating the nuanced world of social media at the recent Apartment Internet Marketing Conference held April 25-27 in Phoenix.

When it comes to your company’s online reputation, there’s a lot more to manage than just social media—and there’s a lot more to social media than just Facebook.

“You need to be concerned with results on the first page of a search,” said Aaron Helfman, director of marketing for Korman Residential. “If you are on social media, you may think you have completely covered your reputation, but Facebook is just one component.”

The democracy of the Internet doesn’t always work in a company’s favor. Blogs and other web postings by just one disgruntled customer can show up in a search above promotional videos that have cost thousands of dollars to produce, Helfman noted.

But there’s a way to control that: Negative, anonymous reviews can be pushed down in a search if managed properly. Although a customer’s voice is protected and they can write whatever they want, the approach should be replacing them with positive comments.

How do you get those glowing comments? All you have to do is ask, said Jamie Gorski, senior vice president of corporate marketing for the Bozzuto Group. “If asked, 62 percent of residents said they would post a review, but less than 9 percent have been asked,” she said. “You’re creating your brand online, and you want to be able to have a hand in that.”

Yet, when it comes to volume, don’t expect to get a ton—people might eat out every night but they certainly aren’t moving properties every day.

“One of the problems is that the industry historically hasn’t wanted people to leave reviews,” said Wade Hewitt, vice president of Apartment “What we need to do is make it easier for them.” He suggested attaching reviews to surveys residents are already doing, giving a diverse set for a more accurate representation.

Think of reviews as free market research: every review has some grain of truth, and smart companies will learn from accentuating both the positive and negative.

“I would encourage everyone to take a step back and ask yourself what you can do with all the information available online,” said Erica Galos Alioto, vice president of local sales for “What it does provide is a lot of valuable information to improve your business and you should focus on what your customers want. It’s a great opportunity to build loyalty and thank them for their feedback.”

For those just starting out, there are many options in launching a social media campaign. Lincoln Properties maintains a blog, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards, Foursquare and Twitter accounts for the majority of its communities.

So what's working? Postings about events, such as “Food Truck Tuesdays” is extremely popular and draw a lot of attention, said Jennifer Staciokas, Lincoln’s vice president of marketing. She also recommends setting up Pinterest boards, especially targeting female residents. “There are currently 10.4 million users on Pinterest and growing, and 84 percent are women,” she noted.