Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Episode 8 - NAA 2009 Highlights

So last week's NAA Conference was an amazing think tank for me. Some great ideas were shared, and there was some specific highlights for me I'd like to talk about. If I missed you, I'm sorry we didn't cross paths. Hopefully next time. Enjoy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Episode 7 - NAA Direct Mail

With the NAA Conference this week I thought I'd touch on a topic that relates to the conference. Over the past couple weeks I have received dozens of direct mail pieces from vendors that have booths at the trade show. So in this week's video I'm reviewing my favorite and asking you about yours. Look forward to seeing/meeting you at the conference.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Social Media Stretching You Out?

Let me preface this post by saying that I wrote about half of it a week ago and decided to sleep on it to see if I was just in a funk or if my thoughts have changed. Some recent readings have allowed me to make some revisions and additions so I can let ‘er fly. I will apologize up front for the length of the post, but it is what it is. No video this time, just The Apartment Nerd in black and white. Enjoy.

Recently I have felt super stretched for the time to dedicate to blogs, twitter, email, and just my regular job and personal life. It’s been frustrating to not read blogs that I used to somehow find time to read and comment on, and to find myself getting buried in emails that require my attention but don’t get the immediate response they probably deserve. Then, by chance, I saw a tweet this weekend by Jeremiah Owyang*. He linked to the most recent post on his Web Strategy blog speaking to the scalability of humans. While he references how difficult it is for his peers online and in the blog world to scale what they do as they grow and do more, I think we can look at this as an example for why online Social Media and Social Networking is so challenging for anyone.

A couple weeks ago Lisa Trosien had an interesting post with "Maybe It Should Really Be Called Social NOTworking?" After commenting, feeling the way I have in recent weeks, and reading Jeremiah’s post, I want to ask the question a bit differently and more in general for all business and marketing. Should it really be called Social NOTworking because people just don't have time? And I'm not just saying us as companies trying to use the tools for networking and marketing, but also as a consumer.

We know it takes time from a business perspective to participate in social media, but are we making an assumption that consumers aren’t stretched for time as well? Maybe it’s too much to participate in social media and fulfill the needs of our day jobs and personal lives? I find myself up at midnight writing things like this blog post wondering if it's just a bunch of nerds getting psyched about social media for marketing and trying to push everyone else on board. How many everyday people really have the time or desire to participate online as a hobby or even regularly? Yes, the number of accounts and the growth has been staggering, but what about the ongoing usage and the falloff? Is social media just another fad?

Are we mainly connecting with a small group of nerds that will always think it’s cool, or is social media really sticky? How many of your friends on facebook never have new status updates? How many people do you know that don't even have a facebook account and never intend to? How many of you have completely abandoned your MySpace account? How many people do you know that have created a Twitter account, but have never posted to it and most likely never will? (And one post that says “Checking out this Twitter thing” doesn’t count.) Have you read about the recent studies on Twitter usage? How much time per week would you say you "waste" using social media sites? Do you feel guilty wasting that time? As a consumer, do you engage with any brands online consistently? I’m an Internet nerd and have never used Yelp!, ever. Is there too much focus on online reviews?

I may be contradicting some of my opinions and thoughts that I shared in commenting on Lisa's post (and in my general point of view), but I'm thinking things through a bit differently and playing devil’s advocate to myself I suppose. I love the multi-family, marketing, and social media relationships I've built using Twitter, facebook and www.multifamilyinsiders.com, but I don't take any time to engage with brands like Lexus, Apple, TaylorMade Golf, HyperLite Wakeboards, Nintendo, Samsung, Taco Bell, Gatorade, Budweiser, etc. Am I fans of these brands on facebook? Maybe. But that's as far as it goes as I just don’t have time. If we ourselves are not engaging with our favorite brands, why would we think our customers would do so? And even if they do, is it sustainable?

I believe there is a niche for social media in every business’s marketing plan, and I also believe that companies can leverage these tools to build keyword rankings on search engines, provide content for their brand, and communicate with customers. Let’s just not lose sight that there is a total plan and that there are many pieces to the puzzle that we still don’t do well in our industry as a whole. Email being one example. Heck, most statistics will tell us that just answering the phone is a challenge.

Unfortunately, I view social media as more of a challenge than a solution today in marketing apartments as well. It is a challenge as it fights for time with the phone, email, and good old face to face communication. It is also a challenge in that our customers face the same battle for time as we do in using the tools. Until social media tools can be used to consistently SAVE people time, I believe its best use is to enhance search engine optimization for a company and/or communities. There are exceptions to the rule, but I think those exceptions are rare and have not experienced the scalability challenges Jeremiah suggests in his post. I’m sure there will be an evolution in social media that addresses the issue of time and scalability, but until then I’m not certain the majority of consumers and businesses will completely embrace the tools available as we see them today. Thus, Social NOTworking.

*(If you’re not familiar with Jeremiah Owyang visit his blog with one of the links above or visit the NAA Education Conference website to learn more about him and his participation in the upcoming panel discussion on Social Media with Tony Tsieh - CEO of Zappos.com, Pete Flint - Founder of Trulia.com, and Moderator, Eric Wu - Co-Founder of RentWiki.com at next week’s conference in Las Vegas.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Episode 6 -Twitter #AptChat

I know, it's crazy! Two posts in one week, but I had to do it. @LisaTrosien is rockin' it with her Friday #AptChat on Twitter. While I have yet to be able to participate, I like to go back in and read through the stream. This last Friday was all about Twitter and using in to market your properties or management companies. I have a few thoughts on the topic and would love to know your opinion as well. You may want to read this article as well for some food for thought.

I look forward to someday participating in one of these #aptchat sessions, but 4 on a Friday in the summer is tough. We'll see. So here's my thoughts on one particular aspect of the chat and I also pose a question to everyone in regards to being or not being on Twitter. Enjoy!

Episode 5 - Integrated Marketing Communications

OK, Beth Harte is on a roll in recent weeks. As I dug deeper into some posts I had not read, I found this topic that I believe really hits home in our industry.

For me, I feel many departments are interacting more with Marketing due to technology, websites, social media, and the Internet in general. IT & Marketing, Marketing & PR, Communications & Marketing, HR & Marketing, Customer Service & Marketing, etc. I think Beth references an interesting topic with integrated marketing communications in her post "Communication Silos Don't Work". One of the biggest complaints we continue to hear in our industry is communication breakdown. What I am suggesting in this week's video is, while Finance dominates our industry, Marketing needs to take its place as the glue and hub for company communications. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Episode 4 - PR and PR 2.0

I was reading some recent posts from Beth Harte about PR and PR 2.0, and at J.C. Hart we have recently been focusing some more of our efforts on some traditional PR.

So in this week's episode, I'd like to address Public Relations and what it means to everyone today. With social media continuing to grow we're essentially becoming PR agents for our own personal brands as well as the companies we represent. I'll take a quote right from one of Beth's posts:

Now, I know what you might be thinking. “I am not in PR.” Well, guess what? If you are engaged in social media, you are in PR now.

Here's the video, and I hope to hear your thoughts on PR for your management company off and online. Thanks for stopping by.