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Social media strategy isn't just creating a Twitter account and some Facebook pages and pray people friend you. Certainly these sites are a major part of social media but there's more to it than that. It's about building your brand. When people see your posts on Twitter, view your property Facebook pages, and see your responses to other people, they will begin to understand the kind of company you are. The amount of attention and effort you give to your strategy will shape how people feel about you.
Building your brand is one strategic reason but a good social media strategy can transform your customer service into becoming part of the Marketing team. What do I mean? By utilizing each resident/prospect's voice you can turn each one of them into part of your marketing team. They can take the good experience you've given them and transform it into hashtags, comments, statuses, and good word of mouth. Let me cite an example of customer service and marketing all rolled into one. Last year Best Buy rolled out Twelpforce. In short: "a new service that enlists the passion and knowledge of Best Buy's vast employee base to bring assistance directly to customer computer screens via the micro blogging site, Twitter. Staffed by Best Buy employees from across all operations, including BlueShirts and Geek Squad, Twelpforce™ will answer product questions, troubleshoot technology challenges and solve customer service issues, all from the comfort of the users’ keyboard or mobile phone" Any Best Buy staffer can monitor their Twitter feed (#Twelpforce) and reply to a customer request. Their satifactory resolutions gets them talking about the Best Buy experience. WOW. Now I'm sure we don't have thousands of employees who can pitch in to help but you can see what's possible.
Here are the steps needed to get your social media initiatives off the ground:
Define your strategy. What are you trying to accomplish? Is it an improved level of customer service? Is it to provide different channels of communication with your residents? Is it for improving resident satisfaction? Probably all of the above. According to Jay Baer it's broken down into these 3 categories:
When first starting up I think it's best to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid). Don't try to do too much all at one time. Remember, you're just getting your feet wet here; no jumping off the diving board on your first day in the pool. Have a vision for the future and implement it one step at a time.
Defining where you want to go can often bring about fundamental changes to your organization. Is customer service in line with Marketing? Are the Property Managers' goals understood by your customer service team? This is not an easy thing to implement (it's hard for some departments to have lunch together let alone implement a company-wide strategy) and certainly not 100% achievable (we are human after all) but some alignment is possible.
Ideas! Ideas! Ideas! Great. Now you've decided to tackle the Loyalty strategy first. What's next? Time to sit around the conference table coming up with ideas. You'll need to come up with property activities, how you'll respond to customer complaints. Remember that these ideas and responses should be inline with your strategy and brand; but don't be afraid to think outside the box, check out other community Facebook sites and other Twitter accounts to see the WHAT. Strategies are nice but without the ideas to implement it you're stuck on the ground floor.
Learn what it will take to implement. Do you have the staffing to implement a company-wide strategy? What are your limitations? As previously mentioned your strategy might cross many departments. Some department, some individual(s) will have to stand up and be accountable. Who will that be?
Do you have the employees with the right level of knowledge to roll this out? Will they need training? Will your brand have multiple voices or will it be just one individual? The more a brand is represented by one individual the better they can engage with your prospects/residents.
If staffing or training is an issue it might be better to go with a 3rd party company for implementation. 30 lines has the industry experience to carry this out for you. Firebelly Marketing is another one. You can also utilize sites that can help monitor your social media. Postling, Argyle are some of these. Hey.. I don't work for any of these places and this isn't a sales pitch but they are available to you. Depending on how far reaching your strategy is some of these tools will be necessary. Anyone have any other suggestions? Would love to hear your comments about some you've successfully used.
Follow your metrics. Metrics are not just once it's rolled out. They should be taking place NOW. Go out on the internet and find out what people are saying about you. Visit apartmentratings.com, look at your listings on Google Places (you have claimed all those listings right?) and read the reviews. Search Twitter for your brand names and see if there are comments. Setup Google Alerts for your management name, and properties. Find out how your customers are trying to connect with you and make sure you have and/or are getting your presence there. Once your systems are rolled out, start determining how successful it is by checking these items:
- Visitors and sources of traffic.
- Network size (followers, fans, and members
- Quantity of commentary about brand or product.
Thanks to Raj Dash from the SocialTimes for the above list. His article is a great one which really breaks down the metrics I just spoke of.
I wish you luck in your implementation (or enhancement). Let me know your stories and feel free to share your experiences.
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, I would love to hear from you. Thanks to FreeDigitalPhotos for the picture. Happy renting everyone.
Here are some links to some articles: