Thanks to a whole bunch of people (especially Lisa Trosien), the first #AptChat was a great success, with many industry professionals participating in the conversation.

Consider this recap a high-level overview of the top tweets as we wandered through a variety of questions and topics related to social media and its use in the apartment industry. As a co-moderator with Lisa, I’ve tried my best to capture the key observations and as many differing points of view as possible. This recap is compiled entirely from participant tweets … I have made some effort to keep threaded conversations together.

You can view all of the tweets in full using Twitter Search.

Have a topic you’d like to see discussed in a future #AptChat? Tell us about it … send a tweet to Lisa, Mike or AptChat, or drop us a line here.

Employee guidelines for use of social media:

@PeggyHale: Need some guidelines on how to prepare employee guidelines to social media – where do we start? Peggy

@firebelly: @30lines @PeggyHale Performance based job description is what we use. Do what you want as long as you get your work done

@HappyAllDays: @30lines We are using what we have learned & applying guidelines/best practices. Adding do’s and dont’s mostly.

@HappyAllDays: I think @firebelly & I are on the same page. Ensuring a balance & not interfering w/ what is important to accomplish. @ the prop.

@drivebuy: First thing we have employees read re:twitter is @guykawasaki‘s http://twurl.nl/omcmhy how to use twitter as a twool

@DavidKotowski: Our CEO @AlbertMBerriz recently joined Twitter and has sent out several emails to our entire company encouraging participation.

@HappyAllDays: One part of our policy/guideline is a strong disclosure that you are the voice of your prop & the company.

@Aptdoctor: Two words – flexibility & trust – can’t be too restrictive on policies if you want good participation & representation

@lisatrosien: EDR Trust has also firmly embraced SM as a company. I need to check with them on their policies. @peggyhale I’ll check for you.

@HappyAllDays: @Aptdoctor Agreed on the flexibility. That’s why we based it as a guideline not a policy.

@drivebuy: Important thing to do is to follow employees on twitter to monitor how you’re being represented.

@Aptdoctor: Love the word “guidelines” – implies trust – and requires guidance and coaching

@Aptdoctor: I allow anyone who is trained on who we are and what we stand for

Aptdoctor: Training and monitoring are the partners of trust and flexibility 🙂

@dschleppe: @Aptdoctor you hit the nail on the head. It’s all about your people and the culture in your org.

@PeggyHale: We mandate honesty, creating a community of residents and prospects, up to date information and response to good and bad comments.

@lisatrosien: @30lines I hear a lot of companies talking an SM game, but there is no way to access SM sites from the properties.

@DavidKotowski: @LisaTrosien Very true. Too many try to protect “productivity” without realizing it limits our onsite efforts.

@PeggyHale: @Aptdoctor yes, we need guidelines on “officially” approved corporate content. Don’t want frustrations, negativity or bad pics.

@PeggyHale: @30lines We need to train site consultants on how to create, build and add value to their social sites. If we do this, we win!

@PeggyHale: @30lines Yes, with well over 100 sites, they have taken it on as their own before we opened our eyes. With focus, they rock!

@lisatrosien: @firebelly Several studies I’ve seen have shown that employee participation in SM does, in fact, increase productivity.

@Eric_Urbane: @CharityHisle I respectfully disagree, and think the whole “Need Training” is overblown. Put some faith in our staff

Employee representation (personal vs. professional accounts) on social media sites:

@CharityHisle: @drivebuy At the same time, it’s important for employees to have a protected personal account.

@drivebuy: @CharityHisle agreed, however, personal accounts can become associated with your brand.

@CharityHisle: @HappyAllDays @30lines I do believe in personal accounts now, yes. I used to believe in one for personal/professional.

@HappyAllDays: I do think employee’s should have pers. account sep from Business & the pers. protected. To protect the emp & comp. Sep. voices.

@CharityHisle: @lisatrosien Unfortunately, I’ve already established personal relationships via prof. account. Trying to separate now is hard.

@drivebuy: monitoring brand language should pick up overlap when it occurs personal/professional

maya_tony: And on FB and on Google etc RT @drivebuy Important thing is to follow employees on twitter to monitor how you’re being represented.

@DavidKotowski: @30lines I expect all of my managers to become personally involved, but not promoting their site on their own FB page.

@danielrmccarthy: FB has added nice tools for segmenting info distributed to different groups of yr contacts. Hlps solve personal/prof. dilemma

@30lines: @danielrmccarthy Great point, privacy settings should be part of any training on Facebook pages.

General comments regarding social media use (or lack thereof) by apartment companies:

@DavidKotowski: @LisaTrosien Would you agree the most companies ARE NOT actually using SM, but THINK they are? 😉

@CharityHisle: @drivebuy I think we will see a growth of communities making efforts to engage residents on Twitter/FB.

@lisatrosien: @drivebuy I’m not seeing companies use Twitter for the most part to engage residents. Mostly to get new residents.

@lisatrosien: @Aptdoctor For the most part, I think companies don’t see value as much as they fear engagement and negative resident commentary.

@HappyAllDays: @drivebuy We do post our social avail in our leasing offices and the common areas.

@HappyAllDays: @30lines We believe there should be a balance of specials, local events, community events, apt living tips.

@Aptdoctor: @lisatrosien Certainly something I see alot – “I want to hear the truth from my customers – or do I . . .?”

@dschleppe: @Eric_Urbane isn’t the term “using SM” the problem. “participation” in SM is where the benefits come from IMO

@Eric_Urbane: Companies that first and truly Embrace Rating Sites will win over prospects

@Eric_Urbane: @Aptdoctor I became a True Believer in Sm after our 1st MySpace page and residents quickly told us where we were dropping the ball

@Aptdoctor: @Eric_Urbane Aha! Can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken and SM is a simple, easy cheap way to hear about it.

@Eric_Urbane: @Aptdoctor I am pretty sure most of us already know what is broken, but when a resident puts it out there, awareness increases

@CharityHisle: The question I hear often is “How would I engage my residents on Twitter & Facebook?” Hence my poll: http://twtpoll.com/6s9pcg

@30lines: @CharityHisle Notice the majority of respondents want to hear about local events/activities, not the latest specials.

@danielrmccarthy: #AptChat Think of SM in 2 ways: turbo-charged Word of Mouth & a way to get electric Google juice. Both can drive good bus. results.

@mbrewer: we collect FB and Twitter names during the leasing process

@Eric_Urbane: If you are going to effectively utilize SM, there is no time or place for approvals from a hierarchy, which causes heartburn

@llarocca: @Eric_Urbane I fully agree, it is instantaneous, immediately relevant and real time is everything

@lisatrosien: AptRatings needs to be acknowledged, especially now that Google Local pulls their apartment data from them.

@DavidKotowski: @LisaTrosien Google Local also now pulls reviews from Yelp.com into their listings.

@danielrmccarthy: @30lines WOM is driven by the whole mktng plan, & the more embedded u are, the more you get. SM is a WOM leverage point.

@Eric_Urbane: I also think that incompetent staff will get fired faster when a company engages SM, There is no where to hide

@llarocca: @Aptdoctor Simple & easy but dont u agree that right ppl responding consistently is key- once u are in, you have to fully engage.

@BarBri: If one resident is happy and renews from SM efforts, isn’t that worth the efforts. Just like WOM, it will build.

@danielrmccarthy: @30lines Scalability is abt systems & process… hi touch around human interactions, low touch around other parts of the program.

@Ian_at_DriveBuy: RE: retention, using SM for organizing events and dialogs seems promising. Residents feel more involved, looked after.

@HappyAllDays: Here is an example of how we let people know we are involved in SM at the offices. http://twitpic.com/67kg5

Questions for potential future discussions:

  • How can marketing partners help with communities’ social media efforts? (Submitted by @BarBri)
  • How do you deal with the varying competencies of each manager? (Submitted by @MultifamilyLaw)
  • Are most companies using social media at the property, or through some regional/portfolio marketing person? (Submitted by @30lines)
  • How can companies encourage their tenants to follow them on Twitter/FB – ie; report problems, csup? (Submitted by @drivebuy)
  • Are there any particular social media success stories by property managers? Links to pages/profiles? (Submitted by @IowaFinance)
  • How do you measure success in social media? (Submitted by @30lines)
  • Is there a difference between privately held companies and REITS in their approach to SM? (Submitted by @lisatrosien)
  • Who should respond? Property managers or upper management? Who should be reading the ratings? (Submitted by @CharityHisle)
  • How does social media scale within our organizations? How do you maintain consistency across your portfolio? (Submitted by @lisatrosien)
  • How can we improve the conversation with residents? Conversation = Increased Retention (Submitted by @Eric_Urbane)

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