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by Maggie Johnson

It's that time of year – April showers bring May flowers, along with the urge to tidy up after our winter hibernations. But while you're cleaning house, why not dust the cobwebs off of your web presence as well? Here are some easy ways to put a fresh face on your online marketing.

Has your Facebook Page been neglected over the long winter months? An easy way to check is by taking a look at your recent traffic. Does your page have any new and unusual “likes?” How frequent are your posts, and do they add value to your page overall? Are visitors posting comments to your wall? These are just a few things to audit when cleaning up your Facebook presence. Also keep in mind that the new Timeline layout is available for Pages as well as Profiles. Start adding those milestones!

If you have a Twitter account, take some time to revisit your most recent tweets. Infrequent posts can be easily remedied by setting your Facebook account to automatically update Twitter, or by using a broadcast service such as Hoot Suite. Also take the time to respond to comments from your followers, and to follow other users that pertain to your business.

Is your website looking dull and tired? Frequently updated content provides benefits for your visitors and increases your search engine optimization ratings. Review your current content for errors and outdated information, and make changes where necessary. If you maintain a blog, post away! Reinvigorate your readers with fresh content.

Once you've cleaned up your web presence – let people know! Tell your fans on Facebook that you've updated your content, tweet your Twitter followers and e-mail your Relate 24/7SM subscribers. You'll be amazed at the difference a little tidying up can make, and your prospects will be too!

It seems this year that winter has decided to transition directly into early summer with just a passing interest in the cool days of spring. At least that's the case in Texas, where the weather can fluctuate from cloudy 60-degree weather one day to running into the mid-90's on the next. For property managers, that can put a potential hamper on their spring cleaning plans, when communities begin to spruce up their properties in anticipation of the higher-yield summer season. There are, however some initial steps that can be taken to take as much advantage of a shorter spring season as possible.

Depending on how bad the winter months were in terms of weather damage, making cosmetic improvements to your community may be of high priority. Repairing turf damage and improving curb appeal may be obvious, but using native area plants for landscaping can help reduce water usage. According to the Department of Energy, understanding your property's microclimate can also help transform your landscaping strategy into something that not only looks pretty, but is also cost and resource efficient as well.

Another important aspect of spring cleaning may involve maintaining your property's electrical systems, particularly the air conditioning. Taking into account last summer's record heat wave and rolling brownouts, multifamily companies have a larger incentive to go green by making their electrical systems more efficient. While the cost associated with upgrading may make some property owners blanch, the return on investment becomes apparent when the electricity bill arrives.

by Joe Foster & Haven Brown

“A social photo sharing site.”

“Oh great,” you're thinking, “YET ANOTHER social network. Another procedural drilldown. Another Webinar. Another memo detailing cans and can'ts Content Management. Legal Ramifications!"

Calm down, have some dip. There are better definitions coming.

Pinterest is a visual conversation about our interests.

Users share pictures by "pinning" them to their own pages, organized in "pinboards". Pins can include text and links, so in many ways it's analagous to a visually-driven Twitter. It's also somewhat exclusive; though currently in an invitation-only open beta test, Pinterest has grown to approximately 12 million users, one of the fastest growing social networks in history, in part by using existing social networks to populate and find friends. The connections you've made through Facebook and Twitter will carry over to Pinterest.

Pinterest is a social Scrapbook.

With a clean, minimalist interface, scrolling through the image streams resembles flipping through a cherished homemade scrapbook. It is the relative ease of use that is one of the most attractive features. One of the more intriguing aspects of Pinterest's adoption is that unlike most social networks, US Pinterest use is overwhelmingly women, making up an estimated 65% of the userbase. Recipes, inspirational quotes, and fashion seem to make the most waves.

Pinterest is curated image search.

If I want to find a picture of a daffodil, I'll Google it. If I want a picture of a daffodil that I want to know in advance that people like enough to take the effort to Pin it, I'll go to Pinterest. I'll be able to see how frequently a particular image has been "re-pinned" by other users.

How are you using Pinterest?

The multifamily industry is very thinly represented on Pinterest right now. The more adventurous of you might see this as an opportunity, while our more timid readers might find this as a good reason to "ostrich". That's fine. Pinterest can still be a fantastic onsite resource: Optimally, right now you're using Pinterest to generate content to update your website's Resident Section!

Originally published in More Than Just a Newsletter Issue 28

More than ever, future residents are going online to search for apartment communities. Rather than driving by and using up expensive gas, they shop for a new apartment from the comfort of home using various search engines and internet listing services. Ultimately, how you respond to their inquiries makes the all-important first impression. If you respond quickly with a well written e-mail, you create an impression of quality, professionalism and service.

Every initial e-mail response sent to prospects should contain 5 key points:

  1. Address the inquirer by name. Not only is it polite, but it shows that you are giving them the personal attention they deserve.
  2. Answer the inquirer's question or questions first. No one wants to have to read through several paragraphs just to get to the answers they seek. Answer first and then move on to other information you wish to provide.
  3. Let them know when you are available. If you are taking the time to write a response, you'd like the prospect to meet with you when they do visit your property. Give them the hours each day that you are on site and whether or not you are available other times by appointment, etc.
  4. Give them a call to action. This should be a reason for them to respond back, answer a question, or come by to view your property. It can be anything that makes them want to interact further with you and your community.
  5. Ask for their preferred method of contact. This is courteous and can also provide you with additional information about the inquirer. They may really prefer speaking with you over the phone but contacted you first by email to test the waters. They may wish to keep correspondence through email until they are ready to come by in person. Either way, you have their permission to continue interacting with them and are one contact closer to making them your new resident!


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