Leveraging a Facebook Graph Search for Property Management


On top of every Facebook profile and page, people will now find a search box, which is Facebook Graph Search. You might wonder what is so great about another search engine, and what its significance is. Well, this search engine not only provides search results, but they are also customized to the individual’s privacy settings and based on the network of friends the user has. This is not an attempt by Facebook to replace Google or any other popular search engine, but offers a tool for searching into the world of your network of friends.

Facebook Graph Search rewards fan engagement, and for property management the number of comments, Likes, shares, recommendations and check-ins the property has, will play a major role in the results. If a property manager wants to leverage this search engine then places, photos, interests and friends should be the main areas to focus for search criteria.

Importance of Places

When you have set up a profile for your property, you will obviously be mentioning the valid address. This puts your community at an advantage, since Facebook treats all profiles with an address in the page settings, as a Place. This element of Place will play an important part in the search results.

Facebook Graph Search focuses on the connections users make with interests, businesses, properties, and so on. This enables Facebook to personalize their search results. Another factor that significantly influences search results is strength of fan relationships and the interests shared between such friends.

How to Optimize Your Property Page for Facebook Graph Search

Facebook graph search mainly relies on page settings, and hence you need to focus on these aspects for gaining maximum visibility in the search results.

o    The name of the property or the page title should be spelt out clearly and fully. For Instance, write Redbrook Apartments instead of Redbrook Apts.
o    Keep the physical address of the community updated, if it has been missing or wrong.
o    Many property communities seem to ignore the “about” section. In the page description, include much more details than just amenities. It would be better to use similar or same phrases and keywords that you have used on your property website. However, these keywords are not going to be used by Facebook in the way Google uses them. You should also include phrases that indicate nearby landmarks or points of interest, such as “Next to Macy’s supermarket” or “Near the zoo”.
o    Check out other areas of interest and local businesses from Facebook community pages and “Like” a few, and also share and comment on some of their updates. Such activity will create many links that will improve visibility on the Graph Search results.

Finally, if you want to be sure that your property page always appears in relevant searches, regardless of privacy setting or number of friends, you could always create a sponsored ad result. This way it does not matter whether you are optimizing your page or having many likes, and your page will still be displayed in the results. 

The Importance of Google+ in Property Management


Each day some new thing seems to be available on the Internet that seems to promise a better form of social media or as an advanced tool for marketing. When you would have heard of Google+, you would have thought the same, and dismissed it, thinking that you already have a presence on Facebook and Twitter to promote your property. However, that would be a wrong strategy, as Google+ has quite a bit to offer, especially for property management. Therefore, here are the reasons, it is such a fantastic tool, and no property manager should ignore it.

Phenomenal Growth of Google+

Usually the growth story is linked to Facebook, and rightfully so, as it has gained over 110 million users every year on an average, since its inception in 2004. However, the growth rate of Google+ is four times more than Facebook, as it has gained more than 400 million users since June 2011 when it was launched. Even though only a fourth of that is active users, the scenario is going to change quite soon.

Reviewing Limited to Users

On the popular review sites such as Yelp, anybody can simply rant and provide bad reviews. However, your Google+ page can receive reviews only from Google+ users. This means, the reviewers will not only have a profile, but also whatever they write will be showing up on their feeds that everyone can see. This creates an environment for more authentic reviews rather than hysterical rants.

Linked to the Most Powerful Search Engine

Google is still considered the most popular search engine, which actually makes Google+ very powerful in influencing search results, as the two are linked. Search results are being influenced by the presence of posts written by Google+ users. These people with profiles are considered “trustworthy”, and hence the page with these people’s posts and reviews rank higher in the results. Higher rankings in the search engine means better exposure and more people are likely to read the page, thus promoting the property.

Hangouts

Google+ provides the Hangout feature, where you can:

§    Converse directly with potential or existing tenants
§    Simultaneously video chat with nine individuals
§    Share documents with all people included in the Hangout
§    Watch and discuss about a video on YouTube together
§    Share what is on your screen with your group
§    Record and broadcast sessions

All this provides an excellent way for showing your property to prospects, holding a Q&A with tenants, holding meetings, and so on.

Local Targeting

One of the most important aspects to consider while promoting a property is the location. Property managers have to find ways of attracting the local people to occupy the units, and Google + Local (previously called Google Places) accomplishes just that.   

Increasing Popularity

People eventually use everything offered by Google, which is clearly seen from their previous offerings such as YouTube, Gmail, Maps, and so on. This means every person using some product of Google will be soon using Google+, since they already have an account, and creating a profile is quite simple.

Using Pinterest in Property Management


Pinterest, the photo-sharing website has over 20 million active users and is one of the most effective drivers of referral traffic. This means it can be used as a highly effective tool by property management for promoting the property. Pinterest enables users to create and organize image collections based on different themes such as interests, events, hobbies and so on. Users can also “like” images and “re-pin” photos from other pinboards to their own. Secondly, Pinterest users can effectively use hash tags for highlighting a phrase or topic.

Utilizing Hash Tags

Hash tags are now quite common on different social networking websites for searching and accessing particular topics. Property management can use hash tags on Pinterest while sharing interesting visual content, so that it becomes easier for people to find pins according to a topic or a relevant phrase. Make sure to include your Pinterest link while conducting email campaigns or while implementing social networking strategies. Also, make it a point to let prospects and residents know about your Pinterest page when they interact with you at the site office.

Here are steps to get started on Pinterest:

1.    Create your account with Pinterest. If you want Pinterest to post your pins onto your Facebook page, sign up with Facebook for creating the account.
2.    Change the “Settings” for your account, such as preferences, social network links, and email notifications and so on.
3.    Create a board, which will enable you to name and describe the category or topic, under which you are pinning.
4.    Start Pinning photos
 
According to experts, the life of a pin is for about a week, and it is best to pin on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings to get maximum exposure. Property management should start with about ten boards and schedule about five to seven regular postings. Pinning activity can be increased or lessened depending on the level of response you are receiving. However, the best strategy for gaining Pinterest followers would be sharing very interesting content, commenting, and repining other people’s content as well. Reciprocity always seems to work online, especially on social networking sites.  

Here are some tips that can make a property Pinterest page more effective:

§    A board can be created for each community and upload photos of fantastic landscapes, and focus on amenities.
§    Property management can also consider creating a board for every room in the apartment unit such as the kitchen, living room, patio, bathroom and including some ideas about decorations.
§    Upload photos of any parties or events held at the community
§    If the property allows pets, create a separate board for pet owners, and upload photos of current pets in the community.
§    Design ideas for indoor gardening and upload photos of some of the indoor gardens made by residents.
§    Food and recipes are all time favorites, and a separate board can be dedicated to these topics.

Your Competition

To know if the competition has started using Pinterest, simply type in the name of the community or property name, in the search box on the top left corner. You can gather some ideas about how they are leveraging Pinterest to obtain more prospects.

Creating an Effective Property Management Website


It is difficult for any enterprise to ignore having an online presence, since most people now conduct their business over the Internet. The same is true about property management, and it pays rich dividends to have an effective website, which can create leads of prospective tenants, and a portal for existing tenants to communicate with the management. However, web technology has made sterling advancements and creating an optimized website might seem a daunting task. Here are a few important points to keep in mind to obtain the best results.

First Impression

Creating an excellent first impression is very important for kindling interest and engaging online visitors. Therefore, you need a property management website that is not only attractive but also uncluttered and easy to navigate. Important aspects of a brilliant and an astounding website design include:

     Professional and clean look for all web pages
     A prominent logo for the property that blends well with the overall color scheme and design of the web page
     Clear menus and buttons for easy navigation
     The design of the web pages should render properly in all popular browsers, and there should be a version for mobile users as well

Obtaining Professional Help

Unless property management has a qualified staff, designing the website in house is not a good idea. Apart from the design, there are many technical aspects to be considered for deriving optimized results, and hence, hiring a design professional would be the best option. The other alternative would be to use a phenomenal software package that has features for creating and maintaining the website.

Meeting Expectations

The expectations of online users are quite high these days, and visitors immediately form an opinion about the company based on the website. Hence, make sure your website has rich features that are able to satisfy requirements of all types of visitors.

Whether it is communicating with prospective tenants or existing residents, the website should not only have tremendous features for making tasks easy for visitors, but also be able to streamline your day-to-day operations. Current tenants should be able to use the website to pay their rent online, make maintenance requests, and voice their opinions. The website should also be able to attract new visitors and generate leads of prospective tenants.

Tracking and Analytics

It is very important to track usage and analyze the performance of your property management website. Tracking page views and clicks will give you an idea about how visitors are experiencing your website, and their geo locations. There are many free and paid analytics tools available that can help you analyze the various aspects.

You can gather important information about the reach and progress of your website, the requirements, and habits of your online visitors, and the areas in which your website is falling short. Using analytics tools is quite easy and most of the information is displayed in an easy to understand format, like graphs and pie diagrams. Google Analytics is one such free tool and property management website software provides easy integration with this tool.

Increased Profitability with Long Term Tenants


One of the main aims of property management should be to retain tenants, as that improves profitability considerably. When tenants stay longer, unit turnover is less, which means impressive savings on turnover costs. Doing everything possible to retain tenants is a fantastic strategy; however, this does not mean you need to keep the bad ones.

Time & Money

Turnover costs can add up, which can reduce profits to quite an extent. Even for a single unit the turnover costs are considerable even when the new tenant is moving in the next day. When tenants give notice about moving, property management has to start advertising, take calls of prospective tenants, show the unit, conduct background checks, draft a new lease, and collect security deposit. All this takes time and money, and if you are relying on estate agents to get new tenants, you will end up paying about a month’s rent as commission.  

The Costs Add Up

Apart from these costs, property manager will have to inspect the unit before the departure of the tenant, and will have to prepare a schedule for repairs, painting, and cleaning the unit. The old tenant’s security deposit will have to be finalized depending on the damages done to the unit. When the new tenant moves in, the property manager will have to document the condition of the unit, coordinate the changeover of utilities, and take any further repair requests from the new tenant. All this work will take several days, which is a big drain on resources and manpower.

High Morale

According to many surveys, the main reason for higher turnover is poor property management that is not attentive to issues of tenants. The main complaints will be not repairing things on time or poor maintenance of the property. When you consider the costs involved in properly maintaining the units and doing repairs on time, they will work out, much less than what you would be spending due to higher turnover of tenants. Therefore, it is good policy to keep existing tenants happy as much as possible, and to keep the property in decent shape.

A Negative Reputation

Profits will increase with longer retention of tenants, since turnover costs go down. Secondly, you do not want frustrated tenants terminating their lease and moving to other properties. The news of bad property management will spread quite fast through social media and by word of mouth. This will make it more difficult for property management to find new tenants, and vacancy rate can increase dramatically, leading to further losses.

Considering the added costs and the loss of reputation, it is far better to have a respectable and standout property management that is able to satisfy tenants and speedily take care of their issues. Satisfied tenants will not only stay longer, but even when they move, they will have something positive to say about the property.

Judicious property management has far reaching effects in not only improving profitability, but in also building good reputation and sustaining good tenants. Hence, the focus of property management should be a cost effective approach that pays striking dividends in the end, rather than short-term savings.

Using Facebook in Property Management

Facebook has over a billion users, which makes it a powerful social media tool for property management. Facebook can be leveraged for:

     Retaining Tenants: Facebook is very effect in communicating and building stronger relationships with existing tenants.
     Prospecting Future Tenants: Prospecting becomes very easy with Facebook, by using promoted posts and tagging features. It is as good as word of mouth advertising, and property management can reach out to friends of the company’s fans.
     Marketing: Sponsored stories and promoted posts are salient ways to find prospective tenants through Facebook.

Remember it is a Community

Facebook is primarily an online community and not a space for advertising. People access Facebook for chatting and hanging out. You could turn off people, if you simply post promotions and ads on you Facebook page. Hence, socializing should be the priority, and promotions can be worked into it. Secondly, people like to connect with people, and hence it is a magnificent idea to include photos of the property management team rather than images of only the property.

Choose the Cover Photo Wisely

The giant space available for a photo in the header is the main spot where you can compel people to explore your page further. Hence, make sure you use a photo that not only ideally represents the property, but also attracts attention.

Finding Fans

Finding fans for a property Facebook page could be challenging, as most people simply like to browse for information on the property website. Property management can encourage people to “like” their Facebook page by providing discount coupons or promotional offers.

Hosting Social Event

Property management can host social events to create a sparkling atmosphere to make their tenants or customers happy or for attracting prospective tenants. Using the Facebook page, the property manager can attract more people to the event, and promote the page itself. People visiting the property website can be directed the Facebook page for obtaining more details about the event. After successfully hosting the event, the property manager can post photos of the event and tag attendees. This way the photos of the event will also appear on the news feeds of friends of the attendees.

Improving EdgeRank

There are many ways for Property management to improve its Facebook EdgeRank. One of the most outstanding ways is to generate maximum comments. This can be done by asking questions and so on. However, you need to first sponsor or post an interesting story to attract attention in the newsfeeds. Secondly, people who comment on the posts can be tagged, and the conversation can be kept going for longer periods of time.

Using Retargeting

Retargeting through Facebook Exchange is still being tested, but the results seem to be quite promising. A property could focus on people who have visited the website, but not taken the decision to lease. If property management were mainly using Facebook for improving brand awareness, the ideal strategy would be to select sponsored stories and promoted posts. Retargeting can be the most effective when in the process of renewing contracts and to attract new tenants who are willing to sign a lease.

Using Yelp in Property Management


With increasing amount of people using online reviews to make a decision, it would be disastrous for any marketer to avoid Yelp. The same holds true for a property manager as well, and property management should take all steps to maintain and leverage their position on Yelp. For creating an effective Yelp marketing campaign, managers should use a maximum number of paid and free services offered by Yelp.

Using Paid Services

§    For driving more traffic to your business page, purchase search ads.
§    To improve conversion rates, include photo slideshow or video of the property units, by purchasing enhanced listings of someone’s profile.

Using Free Services

v    Use the free listing to the maximum by posting excellent photos and adding lots of personalized information about the property.
v    Target users who access Yelp on their mobile phones by posting check-in offers.
v    Extensively use the free response tools for reviews by addressing all reviews, especially the negative ones.

How Property Management can Leverage Yelp

Personalization on Yelp is the key to success. Create a business page and regularly add or update content. At biz.yelp.com, you can access a huge range of free tools for customizing your listing. These tools can be used for adding content and photos.

According to studies, Yelp visitors tend to spend more than twice the normal time on business pages that have photos, hence, make it a point to add good quality photos. Secondly, Yelp provides you with the section, “About this Business”. Here, you could give a detailed write up about the property. Include how efficiently it is managed, and why tenants should choose this property over others.

Gathering Research

Yelp also provides excellent research material for property managers who want to know about their competitors and why they are excelling in the field. Sort out the highest rated properties in your city, or in the locality, and read the reviews. This will give you an idea about the areas where these properties are scoring. See if you will be able to improve your own services in these areas, so that your property can get similar reviews in future.

Making Your Virtual Presence Shine

Lastly, it all boils down to providing excellent service and having satisfied tenants. This way you will build on sparkling reviews organically. The best approach is providing best experience for your tenants, who will automatically post a shining review. Find out from prospective tenants if they use Yelp in making a decision, and if they do, then keep a track of these tenants.

You could prompt them later to provide a review if they are satisfied with the services at the property. Studies show that Yelp users who mention “good service” in their reviews are five times more likely to attain a five star rating for their reviews. However, it is important for reviews to build up organically, rather than asking tenants to post a review. Simply mention that the property has a presence on Yelp and they could see other reviews and find more information about the property and its management.

Skill Set and Qualities of an All Star Property Manager


Property management is not an easy profession and a manager requires a diverse set of skills and qualities. Here are some important aspects that should be considered while employing a property manager.

Excellent Communication Skills

A property manager has to deal with tenants, vendors, contractors, government officials, and many other people on a regular basis. Having excellent communication skills will not only provide clarity but also alleviate tensions and simplify situations. Effective and harmonious communication skills should not only extend to conversations but also to writing letters and emails.

Time Management

It is not possible for a property management to work always according to a strict schedule as many tasks can come up unexpectedly that need to be dealt with immediately. A property manager will not only have to prioritize tasks but also able to complete them within a suitable period. Procrastinations in performing difficult tasks should be avoided at all costs.

Finding Quick Solutions

A property manager has to face challenging issues that need to be dealt with speedily. Many times, traditional solutions may not work in solving problems, and the manager will have to improvise and design solutions on the go. It is also important to solve problems quickly, as postponing issues will only make matters worse.

Taking Right Decisions

Property manager has to deal with a very wide variety of issues, and therefore should have adequate knowledge about tackling various problems. Secondly, the manager also needs to take the right decision to get the job done most efficiently and speedily. For instance, when certain repairs have to be done, the manager will have to decide whether the job needs to be done by a handyman or does it require the expertise of a licensed builder.

Multitasking and Attention to Detail

Several ongoing tasks have to be dealt with at the same time in property management, and therefore a property manager should have multitasking skills. However, acting impatiently and making errors can prove very costly in the end. Hence, apart from efficient multitasking, a property manager should also be attentive to detail and get the job done right.

Efficient Administrator

Any manager being head of a department obviously needs to be a fantastic administrator. For a property manager administrative skills are very important for heading a team or office that is in charge of various aspects of the property. From basic tasks of allotting work, to designing a work schedule, the property manager should be able to run the office in an organized and efficient manner.

Diligence and Dedication

Building sound relationships with tenants, and everybody else connected to the property requires persistence and dedication to the task. Some people can be very difficult and building a cordial relationship might seem almost impossible. Nevertheless, the property manager must have a strong sense of perseverance and dedication to make things work out.

Proper Appearance

A property manager should look the part, and therefore it is important to pay attention to how one dresses and behaves. The manager should dress appropriately and neatly, and have a confident demeanor.

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