I’ll just come right out and say it – ApartmentRatings.com is a lightning rod for controversy in the multifamily housing industry, and there are many people who’d prefer to avoid them altogether. At the mere mention of an apartment rating or review site, I’ve seen many property management professionals cringe, hoping to avoid any potentially negative reviews as if they were the plague. However, the fact of the matter is that potential residents are using websites like apartmentratings.com to learn more about what life in a given apartment community might actually be like, and like it or not, review sites are here to stay. In fact, many property managers are now open to the idea that the best course of action when dealing with potential detractors may just be addressing them head-on. It’s my belief that services like Yelp have opened the door for business owners who realize that you simply can’t please every customer, and that it’s better to show the world that you understand their grievances, even if you disagree with them. It was in the spirit of this idea (and at the request of a few multifamily companies who shall remain unnamed) that we decided the time was right to offer our customers the ability to add ApartmentRatings data directly to their website. Here’s a sample screen shot of the app displaying a randomly selected apartment review:
As you can see from the post, this community is fairly well liked and 5 of the 6 reviews listed are positive. In this situation, it almost ALWAYS makes sense to include this data on your property website – these are firsthand recommendations that validate the positive experience of living in your community. But what if the reviews were not good?
I’m not gonna lie to you – those reviews are pretty bad, and I removed the name of the company because I didn’t want to unfairly single anyone out in this blog post. If I were the property manager, I probably wouldn’t want to include this app in my TurnSocial bar – it just doesn’t serve much of a purpose to show this to visitors who might not have found it otherwise. Fortunately with TurnSocial, once you’ve installed our code on your website you can add and remove apps without ever touching it again – so if you decide ApartmentRatings isn’t the best fit for you it takes less than a minute to remove it from your website for good. No big deal.
I won’t claim to be a multifamily industry expert, and I’m also not hear to get all “social media guru-ish” with you and propose that you simply must include trollish, negative ApartmentRatings on your website in the noble pursuit of “transparency” and “openness”. It’s simple enough – if you don’t want to add them, don’t add them! However, if you enjoy a positive relationship with ApartmentRatings.com and want to promote what former residents have to say about you, we now offer a simple way to include apartment ratings on every one of your property websites, for free. The choice is yours.
Sometimes it helps to see things from a potential residents perspective: now that they’ve found your website, they’d like to learn a little bit more about what your community has to offer. They like what they see in the photos and floorplans, but are still unconvinced. They know your property is generally in the right neighborhood, but still want to learn more. Unless you’ve loaded your website down with a ton of outbound links to this content, they’re most likely going to “bounce” before they ever fill out a guest card. That is, unless they see your TurnSocial bar sitting unobtrusively down in the left corner and think “what’s that?”
Without ever leaving your website, they get a feel for your company’s personality via your Facebook and Twitter apps; view additional property photos and video on Flickr and YouTube; learn more about the surrounding neighborhood with WalkScore and Rentwiki; check out nearby bars and restaurants on Yelp; see who’s vying for your property mayorship on Foursquare, and last but not least – read glowing reviews about what it’s like to live in your community straight from the mouths of former residents. Isn’t there a better chance they’ll fill out a guest card now that they’ve gotten to know you better?
We decided to add ApartmentRatings to the TurnSocial bar because we feel it will provide needed context for a segment of our customers websites. It won’t be for everyone, but for those of you who would like to promote what your former residents have to say, it’s one more point of contact that may turn a unique visitor into a lead, and hopefully into a resident. As we move forward in 2011, we’re going to be adding a whole new layer to TurnSocial, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to. We’re really excited about where we’re headed, and we hope you’ll continue to stick with us for the ride.
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