In Online Reviews We Trust . . . As Much as Our Friends

Online Reviews

People trust the opinions of their friends. Several studies have quantified that fact. Regardless of the sample size, location or scope of the question, the results indicate a resounding yes.

But there is something people trust as much as the opinions of their friends and family – online reviews.

According to a study by Vendasta, 74 percent of renters say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Apartment operators have come to realize the significance of online reviews in the past few years, but they should pay attention on a deeper level.

Review sites are available in every industry, and people post reviews more often than ever. Even if prospective renters don’t believe every review about your communities, they’ll get a general idea based on the overall tone of the reviews. And make no mistake: they are reading. According to the Vendasta study, 88 percent of people have read online reviews about local businesses, 39 percent read reviews regularly and only 12 percent don’t read them at all.

A review serves as the equivalent of a friend’s recommendation for roughly three-quarters of prospects. Regardless of whether they actually are, prospective renters think they are trustworthy, and they are reading them.

Knowing the sway that online reviews have with prospects, here are some key takeaways for apartment operators:

 

  • Encouraging residents to post reviews is worth your time more than you think. There is a fine line between soliciting reviews – which is not recommended – and generating positive reviews. Asking a satisfied resident if they’ll share their experience on a review site is perfectly fine. Earning those positive reviews improves the online reputation of your community, making it easier to attract prospects.
  • Responding to reviews is crucial to your reputation. Regardless of how awesome your community is, negative reviews are inevitable. But you can’t leave them unanswered. Responding in a proactive, friendly way diminishes the saltiness of a negative review. Prospects will understand that some negative reviews are a part of the landscape. If they see that you’re handling the concern in a friendly and professional manner, it reflects well. They’ll see that the community cares enough to respond and that they’ll have a resource if they encounter any challenges.
  • A third-party can help you better manage reviews. Most community managers are awesome at their jobs, but it’s not because they can eloquently respond to a review. They also have an emotional tie to the community and are more prone to being defensive. Hiring a third-party to assist with review management is a solid option. Make sure your online reputation partner works with the community manager and onsite team to understand the situation and create a custom response for each review. Blanket, cut-and-paste responses don’t work.  

 

Reviews are an essential component of a community’s online reputation.  And knowing that prospective renters trust them as much as their friends’ opinions heightens their importance even further.