In the not so distant past there was a mystical force that dictated what consumers consumed. That force created things called “fads” and seemed almost omniscient in its ability to communicate a specific message that opened wallets. This brought on the creation of huge brands and multi-national corporations with record sales larger than the GDP’s of most countries. That force was called advertising and its agents were highly-paid manipulators of the human will crafting commercials, print advertisements and brand packaging that moved us all to buy.
No, this isn’t the opening of a Mad Men episode or an homage to Star Wars, but a reminder, and even possibly an awakening, that advertising in the traditional sense doesn’t hold the same amount of power that it used to. Why? One word: millennials.
See, and you thought this was going to be a talk about Reputation Management! But wait, it is. The facts are that nearly 70% of consumers, and 82% of millennials, seek opinions online before buying. The mystical force of advertising has lost it’s power to the opinions of the average person. 56% of respondents to Mintel’s recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults said online reviews from people they don’t know helped them decide which products or services to consider, and half said they would pay more for a product with positive online reviews.
Do you see the correlation now? Your online reputation is the new way to advertise, especially if your target audience is a millennial. Not convinced? How about this staggering factoid: millennials aren’t influenced at all by advertising. Only 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. Millennials believe that advertising is all spin and not authentic. That’s why they use their DVRs or pay extra on Hulu to skip commercials regularly and avoid banner advertisements on Facebook and various news websites.
If I’m an ILS, I’m shaking in my boots right now.
My talk to multifamily pro’s at the upcoming Nevada Apartment Association Trends event is simply titled “Reputation Management,” but I see rep management as a tool used to “advertise” in the traditional sense of the word. So really, my talk could be called how to become a modern day Mad Man. Do you want new younger residents? Focus on your online reviews. BUT, not just online reviews. Good ol’ social media still plays a huge part in your reputation and, in turn, your advertising or marketing plan.
Millennials preferred form of communication is social media. They prefer to communicate with brands on social so much so that 62% of millennials say if a brand engages with them on a social network, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to engage them. So, my friends, this presents an opportunity for you in regards to your online reputation AKA your marketing plans. Consumers and future residents may start with your online reviews, but when they get past Yelp they come to your Facebook Page to ask their questions and engage with your brand. In my opinion, reputation management can’t be discussed without the mention of social media as they are practically siblings in the family of marketing.
In summation, the premise I’ll discuss in my talk revolves around two core ideas. Firstly, reputation management should be viewed as an important part of your marketing plan. Positive reviews by complete strangers will be valued way more than anything you can put in an ad, print in a collateral piece or post on your website. Millennials, and most consumers, only trust brands when they feel the brand has been vouched for online. Focus on building your online reputation in order to build your bank account and increase your occupancy.
Secondly, social media is still the preferred form of communication for this all-powerful generation, so develop a strategy to incorporate positive content about your brand on social to combat anything a future resident may find on Yelp or ApartmentRatings. Building a positive reputation revolves around that common touchpoint of social media as it relates to accessibility and transparency. Essentially, your social media presence is to your online reputation what gas is to an automobile; the fuel needed to make it go.
Let’s not end the conversation here. Come to my talk at the Nevada Apartment Association Trends event, or let’s chat in the comments below. Either way, thanks for reading and I’ll see you online.