Google+ Local

Over at the NAA blog there’s an informative piece on the new Google+ Local service that has replaced Google Places:

The most game-changing feature is the new Google ratings and reviews feature. For several months, users have been able to leave reviews of companies that would show up on the business’ Google Places page. After the revamp, these reviews are front-and-center. As soon as a potential customer puts your name into the search engine, they will be able to see what others have been saying. Google’s star ratings have also been replaced with a Zagat style scoring system. When a user writes a review, they are asked to rate the business on a scale of 0-30. Once enough reviews are compiled Google assigns a score from 0-30, 0 being very poor and 30 is approaching perfection. This number is in a prime location directly under your company name. Because of this, it is VITAL to keep track of your online reputation.  Several bad reviews will mar your image, and will influence prospects to take their business elsewhere. 

Thankfully, Google has also implemented a feature we have often requested, the ability to apply to reviews. Once a review is posted, the owner’s of your page can respond to the post. This gives management the opportunity to shine by offering to right any wrongs that may have been committed in the past.  The more reviews your receive, the easier it is for your page to appear higher on Google.

If your team hasn’t already looked into Google+ Local it should definitely do so quickly as it is likely to become an important part of your company’s/communities’ online reputation management.

Apartment Managers Increasingly Embrace Review Sites

“If you can’t beat them, join them.”

“Keep your friends close, keep your critics closer.”

Both quotes might accurately describe how many apartment managers are viewing the once almost universally reviled apartment rating sites. Multifamily Executive has the story:

Once reviled as industry pariahs where haters could unfairly bash a community with negative rants – true or not – online review sites have quickly become the go-to source for prospects looking for the right place to live. That’s why apartment operators, some willingly and some less so, have started to embrace them…

Holland’s got good reason for keeping an eye on those review sites. Prospects now overwhelmingly turn to online review sites such as Move.com, ApartmentReviews.net, ApartmentRatings.com and Yelp when making a decision about where to rent, according to Houston-based J Turner Research’s Trends in Resident Technology and Communications Preferences 2012 report. More than 74 percent of respondents said they used review sites, and that those review sites had a significant impact on their decision to rent an apartment at a particular community…

Each company contacted for this article said it designates a senior employee to monitor what’s being said on review sites, and most take advantage of automated notification apps, such as Google Alerts. 

Others are considering customized reputation management software. Many leverage ApartmentRatings.com Manager Center, which sends an alert when a review comes in, and allows operators to reply as the property’s bona fide manager. It all comes down to making sure you’ve got your ears–and eyes–glued to the digital sounding board that is your computer’s screen.