Everyone seems to be experimenting with social media in some way, shape or form these days (regardless of whether you think it’s working or not). But one thing that many people seem to struggle with is how to manage their brand’s presence across so many different platforms.

After Jonathan Saar from the Training Factor posted their own case study sharing their successes with social media, we asked him to join us for a discussion on the topic. As it turns out (really no surprise here), you all have great ideas and examples to share. Here are the highlights from the chat:

How do you manage the time commitment? It seems to be HUGE time sucker in our office.

  • David Kotowski: If you get into the habit of checking in it becomes routine and doesn’t take up much time.
  • Jonathan Saar: Time and discipline go hand in hand. There must be a routine or else you are lost.
  • Kim Cory: I set time aside each day just like I would reviewing reports, statements, plans, emails, etc. must make effort.
  • Mike Whaling: Focus your efforts. You don’t need to be on every site.
  • David Kotowski: Let’s face it. Your employees are ALREADY checking their personal accts and sending texts during the day. Get them involved.
  • Mike Whaling: Set routines based on goals. 1 routine for monitoring sites, 1 for creating content, etc.
  • Jonathan Saar: Make sure you give yourself an “off” time — that comes from my wife 🙂
  • Erica Campbell: Use Web analytics 2 determine what sites r converting best 4 u. Look @ referring sources of traffic & inbound links.
  • Mike Whaling: Take the time to set up alerts, feeds, etc. It makes the process much easier once you get into it.
  • Erica Campbell: Use RSS & automation properly & u can have some big wins w/ time. Also, believe it or not policies & procedures save time.

What social media tools do you find to be the best for managing your presence?

  • David Kotowski: Google Alerts is tha jam! Whenever our name is mentioned I find out automatically through an RSS feed to Outlook.
  • Sam Gainous: For our company it is Facebook along with a bit of Twitter.
  • Mike Whaling: Try HootSuite or Postling. Multiple users can manage multiple sites … all browser-based, so no downloads.
  • Matt Hendrick: Twitterfeed is a good tool to automate RSS content, but use wisely (& sparingly) – & only from blogs whose content u count on.
  • Sam Gainous: I use TweetDeck and HootSuite and prfer TweetDeck for monitoring our “brand”
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: Our blog and facebook seem to create the best results. By results I mean traffice/leads/questions.
  • Erica Campbell: Twitter doesn’t even deliver a noteworthy amount of guest cards but FB does so we spend more time there & YouTube.
  • David Kotowski: I recently started using @SproutSocial. I can track FB Fan Pages, Yelp reviews, and Foursquare checkins in one place.
  • Mike Whaling: Most important tool for managing your presence: A smartphone. Preferably one that allows you to download apps.

What are the “top three” social sites I need to be on for my property? (And why?)

  • Mike Whaling: #1 site is always your own.
  • Elysa Rice: Sites properties should be on: Facebook & Yelp; should at least be monitoring Twitter & Foursquare.
  • Jonathan Saar: 1- Facebook 2- Foursquare 3- Twitter
  • Meredith Mobley: I think this answer will vary depending on your audience.
  • Kim Cory: I believe it is all about where your audience is hanging out. Know your customers & where they are.
  • Gillian Luce: Think Facebook is a safe bet 4 most demographics!
  • Mike Whaling: Collect emails. Plug them into a tool like Flowtown. That will give you a good starting point.
  • Rosa Green: We use mainly FB, some twitter, just starting Foursquare & Youtube. FB by far the most interaction!
  • David Kotowski: Whatever 3 sites are most popular with your residents. Ask them.
  • Erica Campbell: FB (clean interface, comes w analytics, no brainer), YouTube (Google Juice & analytics) & have a blog (links, traffic).
  • Mike Whaling: Check out other local blogs. Start following them & leaving relevant comments. Get involved.
  • Heather Kattelman: From our exp, FB generates the most interaction w/ pros/res – leasing & res retention

How do I create content that doesn’t s*ck? A lot of what I see out there is lousy. I want mine to be the best.

  • Frederic Guitton: The OODA loop (for observe, orient, decide, and act) This is what web analytics, SM and all marketing is all about.
  • Jonathan Saar: Start with google alerts folks.
  • Sarah Cooley: PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! you won’t know what’s good until you get out there, start creating content and see the response.
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: We create content that is a value to our residents. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they like. If you don’t know. Ask.
  • Christian Flickinger: If you talk to me and sound like a salesman, a big douche, or a robot – you’ve lost my attention.
  • Matt Hendrick: Decide if the “contrarian” route is for you – it can sometimes provoke more discussion than simply playing it safe.
  • Mike Whaling: Check local trends on Twitter. See what’s popular now, then share your own spin on those topics.
  • Erica Campbell: Mix it up & get outside writers every once in while like mommy bloggers, consumers, partners etc gives new perspective.
  • Resite Online: When it comes to SM content its really trial and error. Keep trying until you find topics that people react to.
  • Erica Campbell: Also look in ur analytics 4 top referring keywords for suggestions and ideas.
  • Mike Whaling: Comment on other local blogs, share them w/ your audience, then write a post on the topic w/ your own viewpoint.
  • Heather Kattelman: We do Weekly FB Plans to help with ensuring creative & interactive content is posted on the pages.
  • Rosa Green: We partner with local businesses for giveways/prizes, residents love it and its FREE!
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: Humor is good. It shows people that a real person is behind the message.

How can I delegate this effectively? How can I train my staff to do this so I can focus on managing the property?

  • Elysa Rice: Use a service like CoTweet or Hootsuite that allows for collaboration of team members.
  • Sam Gainous: Assign staff writing assignments, get them to research for new relevant content that can B used on all your SM outlets.
  • Kim Cory: Why not get them involved w/u in the 1st place. Give them freedom 2 explore & show interest & encourage them.
  • Erica Campbell: Turn to the industry 4 assistance w training. Create modules, checklists & documents that can be used even w/ turnover.
  • Eric Brown: Why would we ever think that apt site staff are writers, they could be, but not typical.
  • Sondrah Laden: Maintain a policy on communication – avoid FH issues. HUD is watching SM.
  • Heather Kattelman: Got 2B careful here – U can only give this 2 some1 that WANTS 2B the Social Voice otherwise it be really bad.
  • Jonathan Saar: Make sure SM does not become the marketing teams responsibility … collaborate.
  • Gillian Luce: Gotta have someone u trust 2 speak on behalf of the brand! Someone who can interact w/the audience & is easy 2 relate 2!
  • Jonathan Saar: Social media can help connect your depts and make that internal culture grow.
  • Mike Whaling: Make sure you measuring the right things. If resident retention is the goal, then don’t measure by # of new leases.

Good quotes and tips along the way:

  • Jonathan Saar: Social media has been the main direction TTF has been using to connect with its customers and reach out to new ones.
  • Matt Hendrick: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Find your audience and target them accordingly.
  • Jonathan Saar: Avoid syndicating the same content across your channels (this is not a time saver)
  • Mike Whaling: Focus less on the tool. Focus more on doing things that get people talking. The content will follow.

So what did we miss? What would you add? If you’re struggling to find success with social media, where are you having the most trouble? If you’re finding success, what tips or examples can you share with the rest of us? Thanks again to everyone who joined us this week, especially Jonathan!

Tools mentioned throughout the discussion:

More resources:

This week’s chat featured 640 tweets from 64 different contributors.