Setting Your Web Presence Apart From the Crowd

With more than one trillion websites, the Internet is a crowded place. But redefining the concept of community is key.

Kerry KirbyThe Internet has redefined the way we do business, access information and yes, even lease and communicate with our residents. The Internet, a long way from its humble beginnings, now contains an almost endless amount of data. How vast is the Internet? This is hard to define. But Kevin Kelly, a founder of Wired Magazine, has written that there are at least 1 trillion active web pages across the Internet.

Today, we all know the importance of having an online presence, as the term “Google It” has become our answer to finding information fast. With the stats pointing to 90 percent of all housing searches starting online, we certainly want to be found when we are being searched for. So how do we even start to nudge our way through the 1 trillion websites that lay before us? The answer is actually rather simple; but it requires some effort and a lot of discipline.

First off, the Internet has a flow to it if you study it, and search engines look for relevancy when indexing sites. The flow of the Internet contains the ability for things to go viral. None of us know what that magic keystroke is, but we know it is content driven. It can be an article, video or a special offer that gets pinged through Twitter like a tennis ball. You need to tie that to the most relevant thing search engines look at when indexing data, which should be your community website, the holy grail of your online presence. Now leverage that mix into a formula I call “viral relevancy.”

So let’s bring our friends “effort” and “discipline” back into this conversation. What we need to do is make the student housing community relevant to a search engine. First, we need to scatter it across the Internet, and by scatter, I mean pushing out the things we want people to see and read; such as photos, the community name, address, description, floor plans – anything we can place on other sites. Those sites can be classifieds, housing search engines or even simple directory listings. There are powerful, high-traffic sites you need to be on, such as Zillow and Trulia. They are the new breed of housing search engines. What we are looking to accomplish in simple terms, is the building of digital billboards across the Internet. The statement we are making is that we are here, there and everywhere – we are very relevant. We also just increased our chances of being found by prospects searching for housing.

Now let’s think viral marketing. What makes the Internet flow and search engines take notice of you? It is content, yes, old-fashion words on a page. You need to use some of your marketing efforts in pushing content off your website and into the trillion web-page mania. You do this with what I call “community marketing.” This type of marketing is not just about your community, it is about the community in which you operate. It is not just about your property; it’s about the city’s life and culture. There is the festival next weekend, the free concert in the park, the resident appreciation party and the occasional great floor plan special, all within your reach. You want to post this content on your website, hash tag it, feed it into your community Twitter and Facebook pages. Create some RSS feeds to allow residents and prospects to pull that information to them. Now we are viral marketing, not only pushing information about our community, but becoming the hub for information for “The Community.”

Remember, to achieve “viral relevancy” everything must be connected, integrated and working in unison. We want to reach a balance and maintain a flow to the ecosystem of the Internet. These methods take effort and discipline, somebody from your site team must take ownership of this task, but the rewards are big. Maybe it only starts with one simple posting per week, but if you think about it, local events are very easy to find. Just Google it!

— Kerry W. Kirby is the founder and CEO of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology provider exclusivity serving the multifamily housing industry. 365 Connect provides an array of online platforms that work in unison with each other to market, lease and retain residents in multifamily communities. Lean more at www.365connect.com.

 

 

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