Aaron Helfman of Korman Residential cracks the code on reputation management at AIM 2012

What your friends think matters.

Or, more specifically, what your customer’s friends (and sometimes even strangers) think matters, and is typically a much more trusted source of brand information than advertising.

In a marketing arena where 17 percent of consumers trust advertising and 74 percent trust peer-to-peer reviews, online reputation management is becoming a critical component of multifamily Internet marketing, according to Korman Residential director of marketing Aaron Helfman and the Bozzuto Group’s vice president of corporate marketing Jamie Gorski, who spoke on the Pro-active Reputation Management panel moderated by Dennis Smillie at AIM 2012.

“Online reputation management can result in increased revenue if it is done properly,” said Helfman. “It’s something we can handle as apartment marketers if we get our associates involved and get marketing and operations working in tandem.” Helfman detailed to AIM attendees the Korman strategy of Assess, Create, Empower and Reassess: a path for discovering what is being said about your firm online, tactical advice for increasing the positivity of those messages and techniques for empowering employees to engage in the reputation management process.

“People finding out about your firm through ratings and reviews is here to stay,” said Gorski. “We start and end the day with our iPad and mobile, and a majority of our residents would give us positive reviews, but only a minority are being asked to do so.” Gorski said there are ample opportunities to engage residents in providing positive reputational reviews online, including gamification of reputation by running contests and partnering with customer service survey providers to help populate online third-party review sites with bona fide resident feedback and testimonials.

“Just a few negative reviews are not going to overpower a huge positive buzz,” Gorski said. “Make sure your strategy is embraced from the top and bring your online experiences into your offline relationships.”

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