Assignment #5 – Event Participation Blog – Building a Website and Online Presence

Building a Website and an Online Presence – September 8, 2015 – 12:30 – 2:30 pminvest

 While looking for a professional development event online I found a fantastic organization Invest Ottawa. Invest Ottawa’s mission is “to make Ottawa the best place in Canada to start and grow a business.” They offer business seminars and workshops on a variety of topics ranging from business planning, web design, marketing, human resources, legal issues, importing/exporting and financing. They are targeted to entrepreneurs and small business owners and are run by experienced professionals wanting to share their knowledge. The best part is a lot of these workshops are free!

silkI attended a workshop, “Building a Website and an Online Presence,” which was hosted by Invest Ottawa and SiLK Web Solutions. I chose this event because I am very interested in learning more about website design. I have recently started my own blog and I wanted to learn more about building a user friendly website. I also figured the building an online presence portion would tie nicely into what we have learned in our courses in the Social Media program. It was also going to be touching on SEO best practices which I find very interesting in creating my own website. Our teacher, Sarah Green, from SiLK Web Solutions was fantastic! She was so knowledgeable and very patient with all of our questions! Her presentation was very well thought out, easy to understand and very informative.

picsWe learned a lot and had many ideas that we could take away.  We learned the importance of having a dynamic website instead of a static website. Sarah taught us the importance of PLAN when planning our website. P stands for prepare – who is your audience? L stands for landscape – what kind of site do you want? A stands for Aesthetics – what colours and images do you want? N stands for Navigation – what pages do you need for a good visitor experience – site map. Sarah said that when planning a website we should have the majority of our information above the fold (the area before you have to scroll). I found this very interesting, as I had not considered it before, but even from personal experience it makes sense. Sarah did a fantastic job walking us through the whole process from creating a site, launching a site and finally marketing a site. She also stressed the importance of social media and keeping fresh content throughout our online presence. While at the event I heard two quotes that stood out. One about our websites and online presence, “Rethink, Refresh and Revise.” Sarah explained we should always be changing and re-evaluating our online presence. The other quote I really liked was at the end of the workshop.  Sarah reminded us, “Always be giving back to your community – you cannot always be taking!” She offers this course monthly for free to give back to the community that has brought her so much success! I thought this was a great reminder and something important to keep in mind.

Attending this event allowed me to build my professional network by meeting some local entrepreneurs. I had a chance to learn about their businesses and ideas. I also had a chance to share about my business idea and my blog. One of the ladies I spoke with even offered to take a look at my site and help me build my use of keywords for SEO. I also was able to tap into their experiences so far in becoming entrepreneurs. I suggested we exchange contact information for a meet up in a months’ time to talk about our experiences implementing the strategies we learned at the workshop. I look forward to being able to tap into these new connections and learn from their experiences and expertise!

picI also had a chance to speak with some of the other instructors about classes they would be teaching that would be coming up in November. One of the classes is about building great content that is optimized for SEO but also content that people want to read. I also head about another course being offered in November for Google Analytics, taught by David Bird. I am very excited to take these courses when the time comes.

I will definitely attend a similar event in the future and I already have a few on my radar. I think these events are so fantastic and they are free which is awesome! I love that they are run by industry leaders in our own community! I also love that they are attended by like-minded people who are interested in learning more about the industry. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and build a professional network. It is also a great opportunity to learn more from these knowledgeable people. I highly recommend you check out Invest Ottawa for courses that may interest you!

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COM0015 – Blog #4: Out of the Box – A Learning Curve

vintage-social-networkingThis certificate and these courses have been a total learning curve for me.  When I started the certificate I was very much a social media “newbie”.  I started a Facebook account years before because everyone I knew had one.  I had a Pinterest account which I enjoyed posting anything and everything to the boards.  I had a barely started LinkedIn profile.  That was the extent to my online presence.  However, I was very curious about the whole thing.  I found the draw to social media fascinating.  I found it interesting that people were so willing to share everything about their life with the world.  I work for an organization that was also fascinated by all of it and the way it would impact our business in the future.  So, I started on a journey to earn this certificate and learn a little more about what all the fuss was about.  What an eye opening experience!  I have really enjoyed this course and the whole program.  I have learned so much and there have been many unexpected applications of social media and online marketing.

Social-Media2I have been amazed at all I have learned about the way social media has changed the world around us.  These applications range from disaster relief, first responders, non-profit (awareness and fundraising), to businesses and individual users. The most unexpected application that I have found in the field of online marketing and social media is probably the opportunity to connect and create relationships with our customers outside of a business transaction.  From a business perspective, I have been so impressed by the opportunities social media presents to us.  I always thought it was just another form of advertising, a way to get our name out there.  Unfortunately, I thought the megaphone approach made sense, we talk, they listen.  This has been a real eye opener for me in this program and this course.  The importance of creating conversations and even more important the art of listening has been a game changer for me and my company.  It has caused us to plan a whole new launch of our online presence.  Our customers have come to expect a different level of service than what we have been providing and this is a big change for us.  The importance of having a positive online presence and engagement with our customers is something we have really come to understand through this program.

imagesAC7WZR53One of the new possibilities being explored in social media that we are most excited about from a business perspective is the opportunity to buy through social media channels. The potential for a “buy” button or a special offer being advertised through social media and then being able to take advantage of that offer through social media directly is very exciting.  This would allow us to create a call to action, like a limited time offer that people could take advantage of through that social media channel.  It would be another metric we could measure our social media efforts by, outside of reach or engagement alone.

20150213social_networks_boxPerhaps the most surprising application for social media and online marketing that I have found is their use for me personally.  When I signed up for this course/program I was interested in learning more professionally and being able to apply those skills to my work life.  I have been very surprised how much I have learned and been able to apply to my life outside of work as well.  I have started a website and a blog which I really enjoy.  I have also started working to build a LinkedIn profile after all of the learning we have done surrounding professional networking.  I have recently stepped into a new role at work and I am amazed by how many people meet me and say they looked me up on LinkedIn prior to our meeting.  It has made me realize the importance of our personal online presence and the importance of being the one in control of what others are seeing.

I look forward to incorporating all I have learned into both my work life and my life outside of work.  I am excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead!  I look forward to being a larger part of this online world that only a few months back I knew so little about!

COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future – My New Strategy

network 2I have a confession to make……I do not have a professional networking strategy at all. To be honest, I had not given it a lot of thought until this class. Of course I have work connections, school connections and a half completed LinkedIn profile but I never gave them a lot of thought. After this class, I have a hard time believing I did not see the value to all of this before now. In reality, I think I saw the value; it just did not occur to me that it should be a strategy versus casual. I have been lucky to have mentor/coaching relationships in my professional life but it was never formal or strategic. However, I think this kind of long range planning and thinking can have a lot of value in expanding the possibilities of networking. Therefore, my first commitment is to develop a professional networking strategy.

My first priority is to finish and update my LinkedIn profile. It could definitely use some attention and could be more fully developed. I think this is a good place to start because in the digital world we live in people are looking for me online and I want to be in control of what they are finding. I had not considered that so many people would look me up before or after meeting me and the weight it would have in their opinion of me. Therefore, one of my plans for the future is to expand my profile to reflect all my past/current experience. I also want to ensure I reach out to all my possible connections.

My second priority is to foster my current relationships. I want to ensure the people who have been there for me over the years know the value they have added and the appreciation I have for them. In the idea of improving/building relationships I would also like to see who I can add to my inner circle. I would like to seek out new mentors and coaches that are doing some of the things I would like to work towards doing in the future. While online networking is a huge area of focus right now, I don’t want to lose sight of the importance of face to face contact.

networkMy third priority is to look for opportunities online or in person to practice networking and to build my professional network. These events could be social, educational or business events. The main goal is to become more comfortable especially at in person events. I have found these scenarios intimidating in the past but I have started to do some research to overcome those feelings. This includes ideas on how to make conversation, researching the speakers ahead of time, ways to add value, building an elevator speech and the importance of post meeting notes.

My fourth priority is to look for people I can mentor or coach. I have been very lucky over the years to have people take me under their wing and teach me important lessons that I use to this day. I think it is important to remember in networking that it is as much about what we are putting out as it is about what we are getting in return. I try to help others succeed the way I have been helped. I would like to formalize this in order to make it consistent instead of the sporadic way I use now.

I am very lucky to be working in an industry that I enjoy with a company that I love. I always thought of networking as being less planned and often used to change jobs. I am excited to use it to build connections and to be able to offer my support to others. I now see how it is important to stay current and connected. I look forward to putting my strategy in place and seeing where it takes me!
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COM0014 – Blog #7: Personal Reflection – Digital Storytelling

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Once upon a time……….if only it was that easy!   When I signed up for this course, “Digital Communication” I figured okay no problem, it will probably be branding, dos and don’ts, strategies, etc.  I was happily surprised to find out it was so much more than that!  I have learned a lot in this course both professionally and personally.

Professionally, I have learned the importance of good storytelling and the way it can transform our brand.  Through the course I have learned the importance of finding the stories in our brand and in our company.  Where-Our-Story-Begins-Home-decoration-font-b-Family-b-font-vinyl-wall-quote-living-roomWe have also discussed the importance of hooking the reader and sharing meaningful content.  I have learned the importance of being honest, and taking down the veil of professionalism/polish to give our customers a true look at who we are not only as an organization but even down to the level of who makes up this organization.  I understand how this can make our customers trust us more and relate to us better.  One of the things that I implemented immediately was a better understanding of our target audience and what they wanted.  We have started to develop more specific content to meet their needs and wants.  We want to be the company that understands them and values them as a customer base.  Our stories as a property management company have the ability to be personal because out stories start with their home. We want to tell stories that create feelings of trust, community and home.

I knew I would learn a lot in this course that could be applied to my business; I was surprised that I learned a lot that can also be applied to my personal writing.  As a child, I used to love reading and writing stories.  Through this course I have re-connected with that side.  I have found myself taking the time to read the stories of others and even to make some time to write my own.  It is exciting to re-connect to something I enjoyed so much before.  I have also learned the importance of getting personal.  Somewhere from child to adult we learn to be more guarded.  Our stories become more polished and we learn others judge our stories.  It can become scary to share ourselves the way we did so freely as children.  However, I learned in this course you can do that, you can be yourself.  If you let people in, share your story and allow them to relate it can be very positive and not as scary as I initially thought.

picThere will always be people out there who don’t like the stories we tell however, that is just another part of the story.  They have their story to tell and by sharing ours we give people the opportunity to share their story too!

COM0015 – Blog #2: Strong and Weak Organizations

social-media-pathMore people than ever before are turning to social media and the internet when searching for an apartment.  They are craving information and tips to make the process smoother and less stressful.  Property managers and rental listings are starting to see the opportunity that comes from being part of this conversation from the beginning.  There are few property management companies and rental listing companies out their taking full advantage of this opportunity.  Two that stand out as doing this right are RentSeeker.ca and the CLV Group.

rslRentSeeker.ca has developed into being a known industry leader through their social media interactions.  They are Canada’s #1 – Online Apartment Finder & Real Estate Marketing Company.  They are an interesting example because they see the value of engaging prospective residents and being part of their solution during the stressful process of moving.  They have also created a niche in helping property management companies develop their online presence as well.  In terms of helping a prospect, they have a strong presence on most social media channels and they have a very user friendly website.  If a prospect is looking for an apartment they do not need to look far before finding an answer with RentSeeker.ca.  RentSeeker.ca also shares valuable tips, articles and news on all things related to renting on their social media channels.  They provide these updates daily which increases their visibility.  Their content is interesting and varies from decorating tips to infographics about the cost of renting across the country.  This has led to their social media followings being in the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands.  Rentseeker.ca has been referenced in articles and news stories as an industry leader by various news sources including, Huffington Post, CTV, CBC and the Ottawa Citizen to name a few.  All of these factors have built a brand that makes RentSeeker.ca a company that prospective renters and property managers trust.  RentSeeker.ca has become a one stop shop for property managers that want to increase their visibility online.  They will list your available suites, build you a website rich with keywords (great for search engine optimization), create 3D floorplans, shoot property videos and even manage your social media accounts.  For a property management company they provide all the answers that allow you to be successful in this new digital world.

clv-group-logoThe CLV Group has a slogan that says it all, “NOW YOU’RE HOME.”  It is one of the first things you read on their website after seeing beautiful photos of their properties.  As they say it best, “They are just three small words, but together they mean so much. It’s the feeling you get from the moment you start your apartment search to the moment you step foot onto one of our quality properties.”  CLV is aware of the stress that usually surrounds looking for a new place and they want to make a prospect feel at ease immediately when they land on their website.  They want the prospect to feel like the search is over.  This is consistent with the marketing message that CLV uses throughout their website and social media channels.  They aim to create this same feeling of the search being over and the prospect being home.  CLV provides reassurance to the prospect through a consistent message that creates a community feel and a feeling that they care about each of their residents.  They stress the importance of things like 24 hours a day, every day, service and provide examples through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram of what it is like to live there.  They use their website to also show the upgraded suites they offer for reasonable prices in any area you may want to live.  CLV has also advertised contests for their residents on their social media channels.  These contests include a picture contest for Father’s Day and a Colouring Contest for the kids living in their buildings.  They will also advertise how pet friendly they are and back that up with social media posts introducing some of their favourite resident pets.  CLV is very active in their community and often share their participation on their social media channels.  Recent examples of their community involvement include yoga on Parliament Hill, the Dragon Boat Festival and Hope Beach Volleyball.  The goal for CLV is to create a brand that sells itself as the perfect place for anyone to call home and to show themselves as a company that truly cares.  Based on what I have monitored they are doing a great job!

mintoAs more property management groups increase their online presence, it will become the expectation not the exception.  A company that could use a new social media campaign would be Minto.  Minto is a large property management company with rentals in Ottawa, Toronto, London and Brampton just to name a few.  However, they have a very soft online presence in comparison to some of their competitors.  It is important for them to be proactive so they can get ahead of the competition.  Minto needs to develop an audience before they are competing for the same audience with their competitors.  The good news is that Minto does have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  However, they are not consistent in their postings and their accounts have not seen any recent posts since May (Pinterest) or June (Facebook/Twitter).  Minto would benefit from going back to the basics and building their online audience.  By creating an online presence people trust, they will be able to increase their brand awareness and loyalty.  By doing this overtime, they will benefit from more people wanting to live there and those that live there wanting to stay.  (An important side note, this only is true if the image you portray online is in line with who you are as a company.)  My recommendations for Minto would include:

  • Develop a listening strategy and do some research.
    • Identify key players in the industry.
    • Identify competition offering the same services.
    • Identify what your user needs, what does your user want help in?
  • Build brand awareness.
    • Look at current social media involvement.  What has worked well?  What could be improved?
    • Create a blog on the Minto website and share articles through Facebook and Twitter.
    • Update content on Pinterest.
    • Consider Instagram and the value it could provide in sharing “Day in the Life of a Minto Resident” type of content.
  • Create a content strategy.
    • Develop solid content for the blog; add a blog weekly at minimum.
    • Post to Twitter and Facebook more frequently.
    • Post to Pinterest and Instagram immediately to develop content.
    • Continue to develop video presence through YouTube.
  • Set measurable goals.
    • How will Minto measure success?  Set goals to know your efforts are paying off.  Examples could be increase followings on social media channels or to drive traffic.  Keep in mind social media will help develop things like brand awareness and brand loyalty which can be hard to measure but is also very valuable.

In property management, we ask people to make a huge commitment and investment.  We ask them to trust us that we will provide a home they will love and feel safe in.  Social media gives us the tools we need to gain that trust and to show our prospects what it will be like to live with us.  We live in a world where customers are coming to expect their businesses to have an online presence.  People want to be able to make purchasing decisions all hours of the day, anywhere their mobile coverage allows.  It is important that businesses realize the expectations of their customers are changing.  Social media is no longer optional if you want to compete in today’s market.

social media comparison chart

COM0014 – Blog #6: Do People Know Your Story? – Learning to Run Past Fear

coldifstill“What have I done?”  As I stood staring out the window, listening to the weather announcer say it would feel like minus twenty something outside this morning, I wondered what was I thinking?  There was no one but me to blame.  I had a bright idea, six weeks earlier that I should run my first 5K on my birthday.  I thought this would be a great way to usher in a new year, with new beginnings, new attitude…….now all I could think about is how I was going to freeze on my birthday willingly!

St PaddyI am not someone who has ever been athletic.  I was the kid in gym who picked daisies in the outfield and only ran during track when the teacher was watching.  However, coming up on my 32nd birthday, I wanted to challenge myself.  I wanted to start a new year with a new mentality.  So, I signed up for my first 5K and as my birthday is the day before St Paddy’s Day, it was a St. Patrick’s Day Run.  I had been going to the gym but was bored of walking on the treadmill and staring into space.  So, I started a training program that consisted with the main goal being finish the race.  I was content with the idea of finishing, even happier if I wasn’t crossing the line after everyone else went home.

However, on the day of, as I stared out that window, I had second thoughts about this idea.  Doubts swirled in my head.  What if I slip and fall?  What if I can’t finish because it is too cold?  I knew I should have trained outside more!  What was I thinking?  I can’t do this!  In a moment of excitement I had invited my whole family to come and cheer me on.  Now that seemed like a terrible idea, what if I fail?  That is when it hit me, so what if I fail?  Would it not be a bigger failure to come this far only to back out?  I calmed some of the fears and got into the car to head to the race.

Once we arrived downtown, I bundled up and took my spot behind the starting line.  I will never forget the feeling while I waited for that race to begin.  I could hear anxious chatter and music around me.  I could see my family all huddled around cheering me on before it even began.  I felt calm and confident.  When the sound went off signalling the start of the race I got swept up in the people pouring over the starting line and I knew no matter what the result of the race I already won!  For me my greatest achievement came from staring my own fear of failing in the face and running right by her!

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What about you?  What is your story?  How have you faced or passed your fears?

COM0014 – Blog #5: Personal Brand – This is me!

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me3Hi, my name is Melanie Platt!  My area of specialization is with communication, coaching, training and development.  I have a teaching background that has helped me develop valuable skills like patience, communication, listening, and the ability to adapt and improvise.  I also have a retail background that has taught me strong selling skills, organizational skills, budgeting, scheduling and management skills.  I am passionate about the customer experience!  I am also passionate about motivating people to bring their best to their roles!  I love to challenge my team through coaching and development to create the best possible customer experience for our customers.

coachingI challenge people to bring their best selves to their roles through inspiring and encouraging leadership, training and development. I want to take your best producing member of your team and make them better.  I want to take your weakest member of your team and make them better.  I believe with the right leadership, someone to believe in them and with the right training all members of a team can become even better.  I also want to work with the person managing your team and ensure they are thinking outside of the box for ways to keep their team engaged and challenged.  I have experience building winning teams.  In working with teams in property management, I have reduced vacancies at their properties by 50% in two months.  In working with teams in retail, I have raised sales by 30% quarter over quarter.  People want to feel engaged at work and they want to feel what they do matters.  The key is to tap in to that and inspire them to bring their best every day.  This goes for every member of the team from the cleaner to the manager.  We all want to feel appreciated and valued.  If we can achieve that people will work harder than you can imagine and will create results you never thought possible.  It feels great that I can be part of that process!

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COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study – CLV Group – Now You’re Home!

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IMG_5873-e1438269023309Based out of Ottawa, Canada CLV Group, Inc. is one of the largest property management companies in Ottawa with properties spanning from East to West, including downtown, Barrhaven and Kanata.  CLV also has properties in Gatineau, Montreal, Belleville, Kingston, Trenton and the GTA.  Their portfolio consists of 8000 suites and ranges from high rise, to low rise to townhomes.  As they proudly announce on their website, “for over 45 years CLV Group has been helping renters and home owners find the perfect place to call home.”  Outside of property management CLV Group, Inc. is also involved in residential and commercial real estate, financial services and construction and development.  They have the market covered on all things real estate.

CD3S2sKWgAAFfQ3CLV has a slogan that says it all, “NOW YOU’RE HOME.”  It is one of the first things you read on their website after seeing beautiful photos of their properties.  As they say it best, “They are just three small words, but together they mean so much. It’s the feeling you get from the moment you start your apartment search to the moment you step foot onto one of our quality properties.”  CLV is aware of the stress that usually surrounds looking for a new place and they want to make a prospect feel at ease immediately when they land on their website.  They want the prospect to feel like the search is over.

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The marketing message that CLV uses through their website and social media aims to create this same feeling of the search being over and the prospect being home.  They provide reassurance to the prospect through a consistent message that creates a community feel and a feeling that they care about each of their residents.  They stress the importance of things like 24 hours a day, every day, service and provide examples through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram of what it is like to live there.  They use their website to also show the upgraded suites they offer for reasonable prices in any area you may want to live.  The goal for CLV is to create a brand that sells itself as the perfect place for anyone to call home and based on what I have monitored they are doing a great job!

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/clvgroup

Twitter https://twitter.com/clvgroup

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/clvgroup/

Instagram https://instagram.com/clvgroup/

Blog http://blog.clvgroup.com/

LIV-Promo233x176-Summer-PromoCanaday-Day-from-CLV-Group-e1435697359198

COM0014 – Blog #3: Target Audiences – Apartments Living – Not Just for Students!

1401204035_Rental-Agreement-Form-Subletting-Apartments-for-RentAs housing prices soar to all-time highs and our senior population is booming, one thing is for sure, apartment living is not just for students anymore!  Property management companies are targeting a variety of demographics for apartment living.  In fact, acording to the 2011 Census, 30.6% of Ottawa’s population lived in apartment style dwellings.  Who is the target audience for apartment living?

Seniors (60 + years)

  • Stats Can, “The median age of Canada’s population has grown by 10.2 years in the past 30 years.”
  • This has led to an increase in seniors looking for rentals after downsizing and selling their family homes.
  • City of Ottawa, “A large proportion of seniors leave homeownership to rent.”
  • These seniors are looking to stay in a neighbourhood they are familiar and comfortable with while enjoying a less stressful, often less expensive lifestyle through renting.

Baby Boomers II (50 – 60 years)

  • Baby Boomers II (1955 – 1965) as referred to by socialmarketing.org, are on the younger end of the Baby Boom spectrum.  This segment of the population is “living healthier, more active lives preferring to downsize and live in urban centers.”(Source – pendorent.com)
  • This population “prefers more-luxurious trappings, such as state-of-the art kitchens, high-end bathrooms, and walk-in closets” similar to what they are used to having in home ownership. (Source – multifamilyexecutive.com)
  •  “Empty Nesters – Tired of having to mow the lawn every week or repair the roof every year, sell their house and move closer to the action. Like Millennials, empty-nesters might move to be closer to work and good restaurants, cultural centers, and downtown parks.” (Source – multifamilyexecutive.com)

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Millennials (22 – 30 years)

  • Millennials range in life stages from single to being in a couple to young families.
  • Often this demographic is low to middle income as they are only just starting out in their careers.
  • Rising prices in the Canadian housing market have hit a fifteen year high and is making home ownership more challenging than ever.
  • “Affordability and ability to qualify for a mortgage at the current average home prices have curtailed demand for would-be home buyers.  With high unemployment, large consumer debt loads and lack of affordable housing in desirable areas, Millennials are becoming homeowners at a later age. Saving for a down payment is a challenge. They would rather rent in a desirable location (the urban centre) and enjoy a work/life balance than buy a home in the outskirts that require longer commute time and a mortgage that is 1.5 times their average annual salary.”  (Source – pendorent.com)
  • Millennials are drawn to “condo like” amenities, such as pools, patios, fitness centres, lounges, dog parks, etc.

Students (17 – 21 years)

  • These same amenities appeal to our youngest demographic, Students (17 – 21) living on their own for the first time, often supported by their parents.
  • This demographic is motivated by location (needs to be within reasonable distance to school), safety (parents want to know if their child is living in another city their safe) and to some extent price.

New Canadians – Immigration

  • According to the CMHC, “International immigration, particularly from Asia, is positively impacting our economy by increasing demand in the rental housing market because recent immigrants are more likely to rent than buy in the first few years in Canada.”
  • This allows new Canadians to settle into their new country without a bigger commitment financially or to a specific location.

Tools & Strategies to Reach Our Target Audiencesshould-rent-or-lease-an-apartment-accountants

  • Use Facebook and Twitter to increase brand awareness.
  • Tweet and Facebook share our blog posts.
  • Use Instagram and Pinterest accounts for a visual experience of living in our communities.
  • Use YouTube to show the experience of living in our communities through videos.
  • Create email subscription for blogs, so readers can get an email when we post new content.
  • Respond to any inquiries or comments on all social media accounts.
  • Contests to involve our audience – sharing our messages, liking our page, etc.
  • Respond to those apartment hunting.
  • Respond to reviews and encourage our residents to leave reviews.

COM0015 – Blog #1: Listening Tools & News Sources

Listening is one of the most important elements to a good social media strategy.  We want to ensure we are listening to what people are saying about our competitors, our industry and about us.  By doing this we can look for opportunities to communicate with our audience.  This can be through answering their questions or concerns.  This can also be by providing them with further information.  There are countless ways for us to be able to have those conversations, but they all start with good listening.

As someone who is new to social media in a professional capacity, my skills and tools are still being developed.  However, I have learned to use and appreciate two particular tools for my listening/monitoring needs.

googleGoogle Alerts

I can use Google Alerts to track information on any number of things that I am interested in following.  I will set up an alert and I will be notified when something is picked up with that information.  This allows me to keep up to date on my competition, my industry and about what is being said about my organization.

 

netvibesNetvibes

I really like the tools offered through Netvibes.  It took me a little getting used to the way it was set up but once I got my Home screen the way that worked for me, I find it very useful.  Netvibes allows me to create a listening dashboard.  It allows me to get information and the latest updates about my organization, my competition and my industry.  One of the things I really like is the way it allows me to track everything all on a single page.  It saves me time from jumping from site to site to get the same information.  I also like that I can track things that interest me personally and things that interest me professionally all in one place.  I can get my updates, weather, email and the news all at once.

I have heard good things from other people taking the social media courses about Hootsuite and Klout and I would like to learn more about them.  As I am feeling more comfortable with my current tools, I feel ready to learn about other tools that are out there and available.  Any other suggestions of tools you use and think I should check out?

In addition to listening through these social media listening/monitoring tools, I also listen to sources for news and updates about what is going on in the world around me.  The two tools I use most for those resources are Metro News and Twitter.

MetroNewsMetro News

I really enjoy Metro News for a few reasons.  I like that their mobile web page is so easy to use and flip through, this makes it convenient because I can keep up to date anywhere/anytime.  Metro News also allows me to look specifically at local, national or international news.  It also allows me to look at different cities, which is helpful as my organization has properties in different parts of the country.  I like that Metro News provides me access to a wide range of topics that would be of interest or would affect our residents/prospects.  I also like that their stories are short and to the point.  If I find something that interests me I can research it further when I have more time.

twitterTwitter

I use Twitter for both a listening/monitoring tool as well as a news and updates source.  I like Twitter because there are so many people using it and again it gives me a lot of information in one place.  There are journalists, politicians, industry leaders, our competition and our residents/prospects all using it which makes it a great resource.

As a listening/monitoring tool I can watch for opportunities to listen and participate in conversations.  I can watch for those reaching out to us or our competitors and use it as an opportunity to engage with them.  I can also watch for people looking for an apartment and make some suggestions based on what they are looking for at that time.

As a news/updates source I can watch for things that are trending that would affect our residents/prospects or our industry.  I also use it to get my local news through #ottnews, as this is often where things will break as they are happening, sometimes before they are even picked up by bigger news channels.  We can then keep our residents informed by sharing the news we find.

Being able to communicate with our residents and prospective residents is one of the main reasons we are on social media.  By using listening/monitoring tools mixed with news/updates sources we can ensure we are aware of our residents/prospects needs and that we are able to provide them with content they will find useful and relevant.

What tools & sources do you use?