Balancing Corporate Branding with Community Character
By Ashley Tyndall
With the move to digital for properties, the renting process, from research to retention, has all moved online. As a result, property managers need to be able to do their jobs online, which requires a certain amount of autonomy. In terms of social media, this presents several opportunities for leasing, marketing and building relationships. However, it also presents many risks, especially where corporate management is concerned.
A Balancing Act
It’s natural for corporate management to want complete control over their properties’ online activity, citing risk limitations and concerns over consistent brand messaging. However, not only is this unrealistic from a hierarchy perspective, it’s unrealistic for success. The key to success in digital marketing lies within the property managers— who know their residents better than anyone else. They live and work in the communities they serve, and they’re the ones interacting with residents on a daily basis.
So how do we find a balance between brand consistency (corporate-level) and local content / personalized service (property-level)?
The answer is quite simple: training and education.
Corporate Responsibility: Training
Misty Sanford, owner of North of Creative, draws on several years experience in corporate property management.
“Resident interactions on social media must be handled at the property level,” said Misty.
“Corporate management simply needs to take the necessary steps to train property managers. They need to provide resources [e.g., content guidelines, tone], which property managers can customize according to their residents. Employees should feel empowered to communicate on social media—that is corporate’s responsibility.”
For example, companies like Wood Residential provide properties with standard corporate messaging guides for social media, then allows each property to personalize its content.
The use of guides, as well as ongoing refresher training to incorporate new and on-going concerns in the digital world, helps enable property manages to be confident in their job, and execute that job well.
The most important thing to remember, Misty says, is that corporate training should be an on-going effort.
“It’s the medium that has changed,” says Maureen Lambe, Executive VP of the NAA Education Institute. “Training allows property managers to see how the same rules of resident engagement apply to new mediums.”
“Corporate management should never leave the training mindset,” says Misty. Training never sleeps.
Property Responsibility: Open Communication
Successful training requires an earnest effort on the part of each property and its employees. Without their commitment, an effective digital marketing strategy is impossible to implement.
It’s the property manager’s responsibility to consult their regional or national corporate representative anytime they have questions, feedback, or insight regarding social media use.
Corporate management should serve as a resource for properties, and vice versa. Property managers should provide feedback on local marketing efforts (What works? What doesn’t?). They should also be able to ask corporate representatives for help in unfamiliar situations and provide them with insights from their resident community.
Open communication is the key to balancing strong brand messaging on social media with local personality and service.
“Ashley Tyndall is The Director of Corporate Communications for Criterion.B an agency focused on branding and inbound marketing for the commercial real estate and multifamily housing industry.”