March 21, 2012

Twitter for Property Management: Part 1 Getting Started

Since launching six-years ago, Twitter has been referred to as a “micro-blogging platform”, a “conversational medium” and a “cocktail party”. Today, Twitter is now an essential tool for reaching potential renters, providing customer service, increasing your search engine rankings, driving web traffic and building your brand.

Before You Start

Although the platform is free to use, Twitter does require an investment in time. Before you dedicate resources to Twitter, think about what you want to achieve and what role it will play in your overall marketing efforts.

If you are using it primarily to source rental leads, your approach will be proactive and you will need to search for and engage people directly. However, if providing another channel for customer service is the main goal, your Twitter presence must be reactive and time-sensitive. You’ll need to respond to those inquiries and complaints 7-days-a-week. (Using an application for your mobile phone is the best way to find out when someone is talking to you on Twitter outside of business hours.)

Decide in advance how much time per day can be spent building and managing the Twitter account. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes per day should be sufficient. The time to set up the account, get accustomed to a new style of communications and build followers takes longer at the beginning, so take some extra time at the start.

Give Twitter a fair shake. Success on this platform does not happen overnight. It can take a few months of consistent effort to see results and build your community.

If you manage a multiple properties in different cities or large developments that have their own brand personality, you may choose to have multiple Twitter accounts tailored differently. This approach is useful if you are using Twitter for lead generation and customer service. However, if it is your first time on Twitter, master the basics on one account before taking on more than you can manage. Walk before you run.

Getting Started

Sign up for your Twitter account and carefully select your username. This @name is how you will be referred to on Twitter and should clearly state your business identity. If your natural choice of username is already taken, try abbreviating part of the name, adding another short word or your location.

Next, set up your profile.

Picture:  People on Twitter have an easier time engaging with a brand representative when the avatar is person rather than a logo. Use a photo of yourself or of the team for a more approachable and human image. Remember, a corporate account does not have to be stuffy. The point of social media is to communicate as people and have a little fun! You can change this picture at any time, so if you are uncertain which to use, start with a logo until you are more comfortable.

User Name: This can be different from your @name and it is the name that is displayed most prominently when viewing Tweets.

Location: List your city and province. If you are managing properties in multiple cities, you may choose to list more than one location here.

Website: Think about where you want your Twitter followers to land when they are looking at your profile. If you are driving lead generation for rentals, perhaps direct people to your property listings page. If you are using Twitter for customer service, consider linking to a blog, FAQ page or tenant portal. You can also create a special page on your web site or blog to be your Twitter landing page. This gives you the opportunity to direct followers quickly to the pages on the web that would be of most interest to them.

Bio: This description is how you will be found on Twitter and is what will appear in search engines. Make sure that it has keywords specific to your business and the intent of the Twitter account. For example, you can mention if you manage luxury rental properties or commercial units, include additional Twitter @names that you manage, the name of the individual behind the account, or where 24/7 support inquiries should go.

Post your tweets to Facebook: Save some time and effort! You’ll see a button on your profile setup page that allows you to send all your Tweets to Facebook. Don’t use this method, particularly if you are using Twitter to respond to customer service inquiries. Instead, use an app called SelectiveTweets to send only tweets with #fb to your Facebook page.

Other settings: Work your way through the other settings, indicating how, when and under what circumstances you want to be notified. Be sure that you share the login and password information with at least one other person on your team as a backup in case of emergency.

Be sure to create a custom background in the “Design” area. There are plenty of free templates to download that can help you make a background fit to scale. If you’re not a whiz with Photoshop, there are many designers who create custom Twitter backgrounds for a small fee. Use this custom background to display additional information about your business, locations and contact information.

Now that you know why you are using Twitter, have resources allocated to manage the account and have your profile all set up, it’s time to put it to work. In Twitter for Property Management Part 2 will look at how to use Twitter, finding people to follow, what to post, and how to integrate Twitter across your marketing channels.

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Robert Braun

President, Wolverine Property Management

Describe your experience in a few words

We have information now at our fingertips. It’s much easier to know the correct details and respond well

What do you like the most about the software?

We now have a connection point into our entire resident base. The myCOMMUNITY resident portal has led to a significant increase in our tenant self service, online transactions for both rent and maintenance are way up and we are experiencing dramatic improvements in overall resident satisfaction. I’m not sure how we ever operated in the past without their help. If you’re looking for happier residents, these are the guys to talk to.