Six quick tips about servant leadership

Servant Leadership. What is it, and why is it important?

servant leadershipWikipedia defines servant leadership as both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

Servant leadership is NOT about bringing your team coffee daily, dropping off their dry cleaning or picking up their kids. Servant leadership is about teamwork, being fair and recognizing the efforts of others. A great leader knows how to influence and inspire others. Here are six quick ways you can incorporate servant leadership values into your own leadership style.

1)      Be part of the team. The servant leader knows their team is their most important asset. The team helps them succeed. “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford.

2)      Be humble. This leader understands the importance of being humble and grateful. The servant leader knows that without everyone’s effort, they simply won’t succeed, and they let their team know it. “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Aesop.

3)      Develop other leaders. We’ve all probably worked with people who greedily hoarded their knowledge in fear that they would be replaced. A servant leader fosters their teams’ strengths and is there to create other leaders. They know the best way to lead is to create other leaders. “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” John C. Crosby.

4)      Cultivate the art of persuasion. This leader is able to persuade others with inspiration rather than force. “Because I’m the boss,” may get you what you want, but it won’t honestly inspire others. “Leadership is not about a title or designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.” Robin S. Sharma.

5)      Listen. A great leader listens to others. They recognize that everyone offers something unique and wants to hear different points of view. “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.” Ernest Hemingway.

6)      Be worthy of trust. Great leaders do what they say they will do. They do the right thing. “Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.” Arnold H. Glasow.

People want to work for someone that they trust and they know values their contributions. In the end, we all want to succeed and be recognized. Being a servant leader is a great way to work toward achieving that success.


Can’t We All Just Get Along?

get along

Recently, I had to temporarily shut down one of my Facebook pages. There were two residents arguing back and forth so heatedly that other residents called the leasing office to complain. Looking at the comments, I was surprised neighbors could get so openly hostile with each other. I don’t imagine they’d speak to each other like that in real life (or IRL if we’re using online terminology).


This has always fascinated me. WTH! (What the heck! Again using online terminology.) Why do people argue with strangers online? And why do they say the things they say? What satisfaction can they possibly get from it? I put this question to a few friends and colleagues who deal with social media.


The general consensus is the anonymity of the internet gives us the freedom to “say” all the not-so-nice thoughts we normally filter and keep inside our heads. (They were a little more blunt as to why, but we’ll keep it PG-13 here.) There are actually studies that can predict 80% of the time who will end up being a “troll” (one who starts arguments online) as they’re called. There is a specific pattern to how they develop, and how people react to them.


Ok, that’s Interesting, but still how does anyone decide to start arguing on the Facebook page of the community where they live? And how do we stop it?


If it’s something posted on your page, you can delete it. If it’s a review however, or in the comments of a review, unless you get Facebook to delete it, you’re stuck with it. If you know who the players are, you can invite them offline to talk with you. Invite other happy residents to post positive reviews in order to drown out that negative noise.


If you’re reading something and find yourself getting upset, the worst, absolute worst thing you can do is to reply. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Sometimes, it’s so tempting. Someone says something completely inflammatory like toilet paper should go down the back side instead of over the top and the front. Everyone knows how ridiculous that is. But you get to choose. Do you fight to the death over it online or do you just ignore it. The logical part of the brain realizes how ridiculous this is (and of course how incredibly wrong they are), but the passionate rolling-the-toilet-paper-over-the-top side of you is infuriated! How dare they?!


Before you give them a piece of your (unfiltered) mind, take a step back. Count to ten (or 10,000) and realize it’s not important. (But they’re wrong!) No, it’s not important. This can apply to anyone; you, your team reading horrible reviews about their community, your residents.


If we all just tried a little harder to get along, the internet would be a kinder, gentler (albeit maybe a skootch more boring) place.

Six Words or Less

Six words or less!


six words or lessThis month, we challenged our property management leaders to tell us in their own words what their superpower is. Why they are successful—in six words or less (most of them summed it up in six words or less). We had so many insightful, smart and passionate answers. Our leaders have summed up those key skills that have
made the difference between leaders and great leaders: Leadership, Learning, Customer Service, Passion, Teamwork, and Hard Work and Values.


Here’s what they shared:



  • Hire character, personality, & work ethic.  ANNA BANKSTON
  • Be available to your team! MONIQUE PINEDA
  • Lead with empathy, and by example. SARA BURROW
  • Authentic, adaptable, engaging, integrity, impact and influence. SANDRA MORFIN
  • The ability to negotiate successfully. CATHY STALLINGS
  • Lead by example! SUSAN SCHNEBERGER
  • Surround yourself with the right people. ANNA BANKSTON
  • You MANAGE things; You LEAD people. ISABEL ALVAREZ



  • Always be eager to learn! HEATHER HOVINEN
  • Never stop learning or teaching. VICTORIA WILKINS
  • Asking questions & time management! CANDACE GREEN
  • Great mentors & coaches. MESHA GILBERT


Customer Service

  • Patience is key. Value people. FAITH EVANS
  • Patience and a Smile. RAVEN SHARP
  • Listen… SMILE… be tactful… eat chocolate! LORI HERRERA
  • Be good to yourself, your team & your residents! MELINDA SHEA
  • Customer service is always #1! GRISELDA MURO
  • Compassion and listening skills are paramount. SUSAN SANSBURY
  • Great Customer Service is your most valuable asset. DIANNA WINGO
  • Appreciate residents, staff, ownership and investors. CARLOS ORTIZ




  • It’s important to always smile! BRANDI SANDOVAL
  • Passionately driven with a servant’s attitude. LEIGH ANN KELLER
  • Inspire, empower, engage, synergy. integrity, vision. SONYA JOHNSON
  • Love yourself, team & residents!  MELINDA SHEA
  • When one door closes another always opens. ANGELICA MARTINEZ
  • Loving what you do motivates people! ROSEMARIE KIMBALL
  • Passionate, devoted, smile, believe in yourself. COLLEEN O’HARE
  • Passionate and love what I do! MADDY RICHARDSON
  • I Love LOVE what I do! CONNIE SCHRAMM
  • Passionate & ALWAYS up for a challenge! LAURIE MANN



  • Teamwork, adaptable, trust, value, accountable, positive. TINA PLACENCIA
  • Teamwork divides task and multiplies success! VALERIE MIXON


Hard Work and Values:

  • Choose harder rights over easier wrongs. HEATHER TURNER
  • Truth, honesty, integrity. MICHELLE GOMEZ
  • Honest, Energetic, Compassionate, Reliable, Flexible, Outspoken. GREG SCHWANTES
  • To achieve goals take massive action! COURTNEY MCCRARY
  • Everything of value requires extraordinary effort. CARLENE DESJARDIN
  • You must pick your battles. ANDREA KING
  • Patience and preparation is always key. TERESA WHITLEY
  • Take time to know people. JENNIFER STEPHENS
  • Determination, patience and a good sense of humor! HAILEY BERNLOEHR
  • Fail gracefully. Listen earnestly. Work purposefully. SARAH GARRISON
  • Never…ever give up!!! LAURA E. HEARD
  • Being proactive versus reactive is key. LISA MORROW
  • Organized and follow through. MEGAN FRACTION
  • Success=Patience, Flexibility, & Precision. Brittany Wise
  • Always lead with a servant’s heart. MEGHAN BARRIOS
  • Acknowledge, encourage, and utilize different talents. LISA FAGAN
  • Lead by example, challenge equals strength. Angela Austill
  • Be open-minded and adaptable. BREEZE WU
  • Don’t Pass the Lie-Trust but Verify. STEPHANIE TOWNSEND
  • You get what you inspect, not what you expect. LISA MORROW
  • Be True, Be Kind, Be Consistent! STEPHANIE TOWNSEND
  • Always do the right thing. CAROL SORELLE


These leaders truly represent the Steadfast Core Values: Proceed with Integrity, Value People, Embrace Opportunities, Pursue Excellence, Do Good as we Do Well. We are very proud they are part of the Steadfast Living family!

Giving Back to the Community

nightI don’t have any advice about marketing, customer service, online reputation, apartment leasing, Craigslist posting or any of my other favorite topics today. Today I want to talk about how important it is as humans to give back to others.


Doing good as we do well. This is one of our company’s core values. It was actually one of the most important ones to me when I was considering going to work here. The knowledge that giving back is important here was a game-changer for me.


Many of our onsite teams make it a priority to get out in their communities and give their time and resources. I love receiving the photos and stories of our teams serving meals, collecting clothing and food, hosting blood drives, making blessing packages and so much more.

Last week, we kicked off our annual fall charity event at our Corporate Office. The whole company goes crazy for this event. In the past, we have had carnival fundraisers, office bake sales (lunch sales, soda sales, you name it) and team building contests to earn money for our different charities.


This year we’ve been given a huge opportunity. We are privileged to be working directly with the charities themselves; to plan events, serve meals, do fun things with kids, help seniors, paint, repair homes, pretty much anything they need. What an amazing blessing to work directly with the people we’re helping. To actually make a difference in the life of someone. Many someones. Heck yes, I’m in!


The various charities were picked because of their connection and history with our company. I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to our five charities:

Isaiah House (Santa Ana, CA): They offer formal meals, shelter, bags of food and clothing, showers, emergency assistance, and a relaxing, supportive and kind atmosphere to those in need.

Thomas House (Garden Grove, CA): They work to provide a safe, supportive environment and necessary resources for homeless families with children to remain together while empowering them to become independent and self-sufficient. Programs include transitional shelter, case management, counseling, life skills development, employee assistance, resource assistance, children’s programs, and a graduate extension program.

EngAGE (located all over Southern California): Their aim is to provide life-enhancing programs to low income seniors living in affordable apartment communities in order to give them the opportunity to grow intellectually, creatively, and emotionally. Programs are provided on-site and are delivered at no cost to seniors in and around the community. The organization supports programs that allow their patrons to engage in wellness, creativity, lifelong learning, community, across generations and in events

Project Access (Newport Beach, CA): They work with housing developer/owners to provide free services to residents within the housing community. This partial financial commitment and in–kind donation of space allows Project Access to bring additional resources together to develop a comprehensive programs at their resource centers and offer a variety of programs and services to address individual and community needs.

Village of Hope/Orange County Rescue Mission (various locations throughout Orange County): They offer transitional housing for homeless men, women and children. Some of the services provided by Village of Hope include spiritual and personal development, case management and counseling services, medical and dental care, and transportation services.

I adore being able to help and I love that our company truly believes in it. The day after our fall charity kick-off meeting, every single person in the office was in a great mood. Just refocusing for a little bit on someone else and not on ourselves really makes a difference. Doing good as we do well is as much, if not more, good for us as it is for the ones we help.

So people, in the upcoming holiday season, go out and do good!

Untitled Infographic (5)

The Importance of Appearance

True Beauty (1)Beauty comes from the inside. I totally agree. But, I’m not talking about beauty today. I’m talking about professional standards in our own appearance and the appearance of the product we send out. We are here to represent our company, our brand, ourselves as professionals and how we do so is very important. Perception is reality. I have listed a few areas where the perception that we’re giving off may be hurting us.

Corporate dress codes:

Does your company have a dress code? Thoughts on hair, colors, cuts, tattoos, piercings? If not, why not?


In the multihousing industry, we work with all kinds of people, and that’s one of the perks of our job. Shouldn’t we be allowed to be our own person? Have our own look? Of course, but let’s be completely honest, your choices in how you dress and present yourself will determine how far you go in your career.


If your company’s image is corporate and professional, why struggle against it? You knew it when you were hired. I love tattoos, I love all the vibrant hair color, I love everyone individual enough to stand out in the crowd. I’m just suggesting that IF individuality is frowned on at your place of business, don’t flaunt them there.


If you’re not sure whether it’s appropriate, please consult your HR Department for a copy of the dress code. If you don’t have one, do a quick Google search for “example of corporate dress code” and see what comes up.


  • Perception of dressing appropriately: I trust them. Look how professional they look. I want to learn more about their community.
  • Perception of dressing inappropriately: They really don’t look like a very professional company, I’m not so sure I want to live there.


Written Corporate Standards:

Does your company have standards for email signatures? For how you communicate? The way things look?


Again, this goes back to my earlier statement of perception is reality. When you send out a letter in Comic Sans (Comic Sans, people?!) or a signature in Curlz (just come on now), it is going to be perceived as unprofessional. Many companies have adopted corporate standards in regards to fonts, signatures, colors, etc. Find out if your company has professional standards in place and change accordingly. Save the fun fonts for your correspondence at home.


  • Perception of maintaining professional written standards: I trust them. They know their job.
  • Perception of maintaining unprofessional written standards: If they can’t look professional in emails or letters, how can I trust that they’re going to take care of my home in a professional manner?


Grammar and its importance:

Ok, so you’re dressing professionally and following along with your company’s written corporate standards, fantastic. But did you know, bad grammar will make you look unprofessional every time. Trust me, I have been known to write some pretty obvious grammar and spelling mistakes, and it gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I do.


Take a few seconds to copy and paste what you’re writing in Word for a quick spelling and grammar check. Read it out loud several times. Give it to a coworker or friend to proofread. Are you stuck on where to use things like effect vs affect or their, there, they’re, go online. There are numerous resources available to you.


  • Perception of sending proofed, beautiful, mistake-free correspondence: I like these people. I trust that they’re smart and can take care of this community.
  • Perception of sending error-riddled correspondence: They can’t even spell correctly? How on earth are they going to care for this community?


To sum up, appearance is vitally important. We have enough challenges renting apartments, why add to them with things that we can easily control?


  • Perception when you dress well, you use professional standards and write impeccably: I like these people Oh heck yeah, I’m going to move in there! (That’s right, with an exclamation point, they’re that happy!)
  • Perception when you do not dress well, you do not use professional standards and send out error-riddled correspondence: Nope…just nope. Not going to move there. (They use Comic Sans for gosh sake!)


Perception is reality. In our industry, we are asking people to trust us to take care of their community, their homes. And if we’re giving off the perception of being unprofessional or uneducated, then we’re neither going to earn their trust, nor ultimately, their rent.

Three things you can do to make your life easier, now!


Life can be hard. Isn’t that what our moms told us? Life’s tough, get over it. But sometimes we can make it harder on ourselves. I have found there are three simple things that will help make life a little easier. They’re easy and they’re obvious and you can start doing them now.

  • Be nice.
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • Cultivate Cheerleaders

Seems easy enough, right?

Be Nice:

What do I mean by being nice? Really…do you really need to ask? (Ok, that wasn’t nice.) We all learned this when we were little. It means something a little different as an adult than it did in Kindergarten.


  • Share your crayons.
  • Don’t push kids.
  • Raise your hand and be courteous.


  • Work as a team, be collaborative.
  • Get along with everyone in the office. Yes, even that person. Whoever that person is to you.
  • Be courteous. You probably don’t need to raise your hand as a grown up, but this golden rule still applies. Be courteous. Say please and thank you. Smile. As I always remind my son, the best way to make a friend is to be friendly. Just do it. I have faith in you!

Work smarter, not harder:

We’ve all heard this phrase, you can only do the best you can. I would like to add to that, always endeavor to make your best, better. That’s right. That just happened, I said be better. You don’t have to work harder, you just have to work smarter. You know those days, the ones where you’re firing on all cylinders (I don’t understand car terminology, I just know this is a good thing). Then there are those days when you just can’t make anything happen. Everyone has both of these types of days.

If you’re having one of those less than full cylinder days, fake it. Easier said than done, right. You have so much to do that you’re vapor locked? Distracted and not able to focus? Overwhelmed and pulling your hair out? Here’s some ideas to work smarter, not harder.

  • Sit down and write a list of the top five things you need to do for the day. Number them in order of importance. Write how long they will each take. Stick to the list.
  • Schedule a time to check your emails. Don’t be a slave to your email. Add it to your priority list.
  • Put away your cell phone. (As I’m writing this my cell phone is literally 4 inches from my keyboard. But I’m running on all cylinders today.) We spend more time than we think on our phones, and when you have a lot to do, it’s not the best use of our time.
  • Do the most unpleasant thing on your task list, first.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit you need help. Is there someone in the office who can take some of the load? Sometimes, just taking one thing off your plate means a world of difference.
  • Be present in the moment. By that I mean, BE with the people you’re with, do the job that you’re there for, don’t just “phone it in.”

Cultivate Cheerleaders:

There is nothing better than having someone (or multiple someones) who are there when you’re having a tough time. They can offer advice, give you a shoulder, offer support or have the right word to say. If you haven’t cultivated a healthy support group, now’s the time. I mean it’s really the time.

  • Do you have a mentor in your career? Or a life coach?
  • Mentor someone yourself. There’s nothing better to clarify what you’re doing than by teaching someone else.
  • Coworkers. They get your day-to-day problems.
  • Friends. They get you.
  • Family. Ok, so they’re probably kind of weird, but they’re yours.

These are three fairly obvious no brainers, but I think key to making your life easier. And the best thing about them is that you can start them today…Now in fact. Go out there and stop making it so hard on yourself.

3 things to make your life easier

Let’s get positive people!

blessingsToday, one of the ladies in the office and I were talking. She’d spied my white board’s message: “Reminder…what are your blessings today?” This sparked a conversation about what were our blessings for the day. Of course family, friends, health and our jobs made the list.

She went on to say she uses positive affirmations in her computer passwords. I’m not going to give out any of her top secret information so calm down, people. She uses things like “LoveEveryone” and “Encourage” and changes them every three months. She says she can come into work in a cranky mood, then will type in “LoveEveryone” and it helps bring her back to a better place.

I thought, what a fantastic idea. Because you know what? We don’t think enough about the positives in our daily lives. Often our thoughts are consumed more by that utter idiot who just cut us off on the freeway. The resident who yelled at us. Or and I’m talking about clearly the worst human on the planet here, the person who has 25 items in a 20 item or less check stand. AND COUPONS! AND FORGOT SOMETHING!! And then they WRITE A CHECK?!

Ok calm down, think about blessings. (A CHECK?! OMG Who does that?!) Deep breath. Blessings. Positive.

How often do we take the time to say “thank you” “I appreciate you” “you’re the best?” Something simple like that can truly make a person’s day (especially after they were at the grocery store behind check-woman—ok, I’ve really got to let this go).

Imagine how much your residents would appreciate it if you told them for no reason, “thank you for being an awesome resident. We’re so happy you’re here.” Tell your vendor partners, “thank you for all you do for us, you rock.” Maybe even tell your husband or wife how much you respect them, and thanks for replacing the toilet paper roll (leave out the part that they totally put it on the wrong way—obviously it goes up and over, not down and behind).

I challenge everyone (myself included) to take the time to tell one person a day how much you appreciate them, try to do it every day. And even more importantly, take the time to think about your blessings every day. Change your password to something like “IAMAwesome” or ”BeNice” or “Forgive” or “NoChecks”

Let’s get positive people!

Go get that coffee! Some thoughts on customer service…

How do you think your residents see you? What role do you play in their lives? Have you thought about it? In the hustle and bustle world of property management, it’s hard to stop take a breath and really think about things like that.

I manage the social media for all our properties, and see a lot of different requests coming through Facebook. Posts like, “I can’t reach the office, can you help me?” and “my neighbor is making too much noise, do something.” You know, the typical requests that come in through the leasing office every day. It’s just another format for them to ask. I always reach out to our teams to follow up.

Last night, I received one that read, “Can you get me a TV guide? I looked on the provider’s website and I can’t find it.” I’m not going to lie, that request did make me chuckle. When I sent an email to the Community Manager, her response to me was, “we are not just managers and leasing agents, we are everything from cable repair men to therapist.” I thought that was a great attitude. You’re doing it right. You go girl!

I started my marketing career in commercial real estate. Early on, one of our VPs sat me down to share his wisdom with me. He said, “Shellie, my job is like being a waiter.” (Hmmmm, this should be interesting, I thought). He said his one and only job was to find out how his clients liked their coffee acoffeend give it to them. (Coffee is a metaphor here, people.) He got it how they wanted it and when they wanted it. His priority was to never forget to get them what they needed, whether it was cream and sugar, or a 10,000 square foot office space. Then he made me get him a cup of coffee. Just kidding he didn’t do that.

That is a great philosophy to take with you everywhere in life. Everyone is your client; your boss, your coworkers, your subordinates. You will never go wrong if you find out how people like their coffee (still a metaphor here, unless it’s literally your job to get coffee) and make sure that you get it to them how they like it, and on time.

This can be especially relevant to those of you onsite. Your residents need coffee, they need it now and they all need it differently. When nothing stops you from getting your resident what they need, when they need it, and how they like it, it will shine through. The good leasing teams help with everything. The great leasing teams realize that they are everything to everyone and embrace it.

So go out there and remember, be everything to everyone. You get them that TV guide. You listen to them about what’s going on in their lives, and care about doing it. Get them their coffee how they like it and they will appreciate it.

Those who mind, DO matter…

Those who mindA wise doctor once said, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” That doctor was Dr. Seuss. (Ok, he wasn’t really a doctor, but that’s not the point I’m getting at.)

This is one of my favorite all-time quotes, and smart words to live by. But Dr. Seuss didn’t have to worry about his online reputation. In an age where anyone with access to the internet can read the good, the bad and the ugly about you, those who mind do matter. Perception is reality.

We all know our home may be the only place we feel comfortable, secure and in control. However, when something happens that negatively affects our home (whether it’s the AC going out, a hot water heater breaking, a gate not working, or a neighbor not picking up after their dog) it messes with our peace of mind. The sanctity of our home has been breached! And often we get…well, let’s call it passionate. When it’s your resident whose sanctity of home has been breached, they’re going to reach out to you…passionately. Whether or not it’s your fault, you’re going to get the brunt of it. Is it fair? No. But like all of our moms told us when we were kids: life’s not fair.

People write reviews for many reasons. There’s the “I got kicked out and I’m really upset,” review. Then you have the “I have a gripe that I feel isn’t being addressed” review. And my favorite, the “I love this place and I want the world to know” review. Let’s talk about the “I have a gripe that I feel isn’t being addressed” reviewer.

First, take a step back and try to stop it from reaching that level. Look at it from your residents’ point of view, because there’s a good chance they won’t be able to look at it from yours. You’ve received the maintenance request and now you have to wait for a vendor, or a replacement part, or something else that has suddenly taken precedence over their maintenance request. That’s a fact of life in property management. If you could wave a magic wand and make it happen immediately, I know you would. But in this case, there’s nothing you can do to make it happen any faster. Your resident is sitting at home, their sanctuary, with the perception nothing is being done. Remember, perception is reality.

My advice? Communicate. Over-communicate. If nothing else, it’s going to let them know you haven’t forgotten them. Are you communicating with them? Daily? Give them a quick email or call saying, “Hey, I know you’re waiting, here’s what we’ve done today (even if it’s just calling your vendor), you are important to us.” Or “here’s a $5 Starbucks card, have a coffee on us (or a $10 laundry card, you get the idea), we appreciate your patience.” Just reaching out might stop them from posting a lousy review. Let them know that you care and that you’re not just there to take their money.

Our wise Dr. Seuss (still not a doctor) also said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” So I say care. A lot. And let your residents know that you do.

Sometimes, no matter how much you care (A LOT) and how much you communicate (A LOT), you still receive a negative review. It’s not pretty, it’s not nice, and you need to respond. First, take a step back from your emotions. Anything written with anger or defensiveness isn’t going to be the right response. Not only is the person who wrote the review going to read this, but everyone else, too. You need to remember that your response is to all of them. If you can’t take a step back from your emotions, have a third party write your response for you. (They’re also a great resource for proofing your response. Thank you to the person who proofed this for me! If you see something wrong in this, it’s their fault, not mine.)

A simple thank you, we’re sorry (even if it’s not your fault), here’s how we fixed it (NOT why it wasn’t your fault), we’re here to answer any questions (give them your contact info) and thank you again. These are professional and caring responses and can make a huge difference to anyone reading the review.

I truly believe by caring (A LOT) and communicating (A LOT) it will alleviate your residents’ perception that you’re doing nothing. Stepping back and responding to negative reviews in a caring and professional way will alleviate the perception you don’t care. Let’s take control of the perception, people!

I’m going to leave you with these words of wisdom, “Oh the places you’ll go, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.”—Dr. Seuss (Yes, still not a doctor.)

Social Media & Multifamily Marketing—Number 2

2e1ax_elegantblue_entry_social-media 2I wrote an article two years ago regarding social media and multifamily marketing. We know that in terms of social media, two years can be a lifetime, so I thought I’d take a look at what I was doing in 2013 and offer some new thoughts on the subject today in 2015.

What should our goal be? Back then, I wrote that our goal isn’t going to be about generating rents. We should focus on engaging our current residents and creating a sense of community. Retention and referrals are our main goal with social media and I still stand by that statement. However, studying the analytics, I have noticed that we are generating more and more traffic to our website from our social sites.

How can you save time? I previously discussed social media platforms and content-providing partners as a great way of saving time. We utilize content-providing partners for our assets with higher budgets and they do an amazing job. However, the majority of our properties’ social media presence is done in house. Not much has changed in these two years, except that I manage three times more communities and still devote the same amount of time to social media. I (still) use Hootsuite as a way of centralizing our social media posting and I currently post to more than 70 individual Facebook pages, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google +. Being methodical and planning ahead saves so much time, I can’t stress it enough. Throughout the course of the month, I earmark websites, articles, trivia, quizzes and blog posts to feature them for the next month. Saving them in a systematic way helps me quickly add all of our posts at one time; for example Monday posts, Tuesday posts, and so on. It’s a nominal cost to our properties and I only spend about two hours a month updating our posts.

What about our onsite teams? I still agree that allowing our onsite teams to post is a great way to talk about property-specific information. But I feel more strongly than ever that it needs to be reviewed by someone before it goes live. We are asking people to represent our company and properties who may not be properly equipped to do so. If we do have our onsite teams post, we need to have a discussion with the property manager on who is best suited on their team to do it and to let them know that they are responsible for oversight.

What do we post? Well what do you use Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms for? Lifestyle, catching up with friends and family and updating what you’re doing (some more than others, you know who you are). The same goes for posts from properties. The only difference in my opinion between now and two years ago, is that I don’t typically ever advertise our property anymore. It is strictly used for lifestyle posts and “look how great we are” posts about our community.

In May, one of our properties experienced severe flooding from a major storm. Our office was damaged and the onsite team had to work out of a temporary location, with a temporary phone number—and literally hundreds of people trying to call to find out information. We let all of our residents know by email, by posted signs and word of mouth to stay tuned for updates on Facebook. We notified residents of the flood relief being put in place by The Red Cross, FEMA and local area volunteers. We updated them on when we were going to be walking buildings, closures due to flooding and timing of repairs. Residents and future residents exchanged information, messaged and posted to our wall with questions and updates. Facebook was a great way of keeping our residents informed and gave us another format other than phone, email and in person to engage with our residents.

My takeaway between now and 2013? Social media has expanded and allows us more exposure than ever before. Not only to our current residents, but also potential future residents. It’s a good bang for your buck ifyou use it smartly. I still believe that following these few simple guidelines; knowing your goals, being methodical and focusing on saving time while not skimping in quality, watching who is posting on your company’s behalf and what you should and shouldn’t post, you can revitalize your social media platform and engage more people. There are more places we could and should be and I’m excited to see where we go!

(Original Social Media & Multifamily Marketing article published by Shellie in IREM OC’s The Source 2013 Q2 online magazine and Multifamily Insiders )