What can your community do to help mitigate the impact of negative online reviews?
One of the challenges many apartment marketers face is how to overcome a bad reputation online. In some cases, a community discovers its problems and the current owners or management group decide to address them. In other cases, a new owner takes over the property and puts repairing the community’s online reputation on his or her to-do list. We’ve talked before about how to ask for reviews from residents and getting some positive reviews will be an important part of building a positive online reputation. That said, you can’t suspend all leasing activity until you get a better reputation? So how can you lease apartments while laboring under a bad reputation, even as you try to do the hard work of repairing that reputation?
The good news is that according to data from Google, web users are going to check with ~10-11 sources before making purchasing decisions. This means that a good marketing presence on other platforms can usually balance out the hurt done by a less sound presence on others.
A Tale of Two Apartment Communities
One way of looking at it is to imagine two scenarios. In scenario one, a community has terrible reviews on Google+ and Apartment Ratings, and they don’t have a community website. So if a person finds them online, they’re virtually guaranteed to find those negative reviews. Not only that, if they keep poking around, they’re not going to find anything else. So the only thing they find online about the community is extremely negative. For this community, those reviews are going to be disastrous.
Now imagine a second scenario. In this case, the community still has terrible reviews. But in addition to the bad reviews on a couple review sites, this community also has a community website. The website has video tours on it of every floorplan. There are also photos of each floorplan–and it’s easy to find the videos and photos. Other things, like the pet policy and unit features, are also easy to find. So when a user searches for this community online, the first thing to note is that they may never see the bad reviews. If they land on the website, see the photos and videos and decide they want to learn more, they may call and set up a tour without ever seeing those reviews.
Of course, even if they see the reviews, those may not be a deal-breaker for them if they also see the videos and find that the floorplan is what they’re looking for in terms of square footage, pet policy, etc.
To sum up, having your own website with photos and videos is a fantastic way to reduce the impact of negative reviews. Sound apartment marketing practices can reduce the impact of those negative reviews, in other words. You should still be working to address those negative reviews by improving the quality of the community (assuming the reviews are legitimate, of course) and you should still be trying to get positive reviews. But in the mean time, having a good website will go a long way in helping address the problems those bad reviews create.