Facebook “Likes”: Quantity vs Quality

Many of my customers are interested in learning more about establishing a great Facebook page for their business. There are a lot of companies out there promising to get more “Likes”, but is that what you really want or need? Of course you need more “Likes” when you first get started, you don’t have any at all. At what point are you paying for “Likes” that you just don’t need? The answer comes down to your business and how you naturally get customers.

Coca~Cola has nearly 34 Million people that like their page on Facebook. Is that enough? For a consumer product like Coca~Cola, they would probably like to and benefit from having even more followers. The fact that they are a consumer product, the quality of their Fans is very high. All 34 Million of their fans have probably purchased a Coke in the last few months and will probably purchase a Coke within the next few months. This sets up the quality factor.

What good would it be for your business to have 34 Million Fans? Do you even want 34 Million Fans? For some of you the answer will be yes. I’m pretty sure if I had 34 Million Fans I would have to hire a team of people simply to manage my presence on Facebook. This would be counter productive, however, because I couldn’t possibly provide services that generate revenue for 34 Million customers.

So what’s the point? The point is, many businesses need to focus more on the quality of their Facebook Fans. Every now and then scan your list of Fans and look at their profiles. Where do they live? If you own a hardware store in Sioux City, Iowa the majority of your Fans should be from Sioux City, Iowa. If you are a realtor in Charleston, SC the majority of your fans should be from there as well. These are broad examples and you need to determine your own guidelines for quality control based on your business, product or service, especially if you’re paying a third-party to manage and promote your Facebook page.

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Can Your Marketing Team Sell Patagonian Toothfish?

Take a look at this fish:

It is hideous. Would you eat it? I sure as hell wouldn’t. If I were to catch this fish I wouldn’t even bring it into my boat. I would cut the line for sure.  I wouldn’t even want to touch the thing.  However, the truth is, I have eaten it…. and if you’re a fish eater, you probably have too. 

Chilean Sea Bass, originally known as the Patagonian toothfish, is one of the most popular menu items in fine dining restaurants today. The made up name, Chilean Sea Bass, was a marketing gimmick to make it sound more appealing to restaurant patrons. (Would you order the Patagonian Toothfish off a menu?) 

There are dozens of examples of marketing gimmicks like this that have taken something that sounds ugly and unappealing to something that appeals to the masses. All it takes is a simple change, a new name, a new package, a new logo. Are you currently marketing your Chilean Sea Bass as Patagonian Toothfish? If your product or service isn’t working the way you want it, then maybe you are.  

What can you do differently to change your Patagonian Toothfish into this?

The Chosen Ones

I don’t get a newspaper anymore.  My news comes online and it’s based on my interests.  A great deal of my news comes from Facebook.  For purposes of this discussion, I’m going to use USA Today and local newspapers as examples.  USA Today is a national newspaper that gives readers a broad idea of what’s going on in the nation and the world and your local newspaper gives you a broad idea of what’s going on in your county, city and local area.  Their websites, of course, do the same.  Is this what people truly care about though?  Of course.  On some level, we all care about what’s going on in the world, in our cities and in our towns.

What do we care about most, however?  We care about our family and friends most.  When you ask most people to list their priorities the top three will likely be their family and friends, their job and their religion or spirituality in no particular order.  So where do we all go to get news on our family and friends???  Why, Facebook of course.  My new Sunday morning routine isn’t reading the “funnies”, Sports section and Entertainment section of the Detroit News anymore.  It’s getting a cup of coffee, opening my laptop up and seeing what my family and friends did this weekend.  Who had babies?  Who lost a loved one?  Who had a great time in Las Vegas?  That’s what I care about most.  I know that’s what I care about most because that’s the first thing I “research”.  Then I’ll go to my favorite news outlets and look up how the Detroit Tigers did last night and see if they are still in first place and of course see what’s going on in the nation and the world.

What’s my point?  What am I getting at here?  Well, another thing that I can choose on Facebook is what “advertisers” I allow to appear on my news feed.  I can’t choose that at all with a printed newspaper and websites, including Facebook, are getting a little smarter with the targeted advertising they feed me, but to be honest, it’s never really what I want to see.  I mean, how many times can they suggest I like “Mayhem” on Facebook before I can make it go away.  I can’t.  I can control that I “LIKE” Pepsi and I can see what Pepsi is posting on Facebook in my newsfeed.  I chose that.  So did 4.5 Million other Facebook users.  31.5 Million users chose to allow Coca~Cola to advertise on their newsfeed.

This is the equivalent of telling USA Today or the Detroit News what advertising you want printed in the paper they deliver to your doorstep.  Pretty powerful when you think about it.  So if you don’t have a fan page on Facebook, I suggest you get one now.  If you do have a fan page, but you really don’t have a strategy, I suggest you work on it.  You need to create enough interest on Facebook that people choose to allow you to advertise to them.

Want to Increase Your SEO and Cut Your Advertising Dollars???

I have been saving this post for a long time.  I’ve tried to figure out a way to “monetize” it and earn some revenue from it, but it’s more of a concept than a product or service.  The bottom line is I can’t really keep it to myself anymore and it’s time to burst.  So here it is….

LIST YOUR COMPETITORS ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE!

If you are an apartment community and you advertise on apartments.com, rent.com or  For Rent or Apartment Guide’s websites, you’re already paying thousands of dollars a year to list your information side by side with your competition.  So why not add them all to your own website, increase your content exponentially and get the Google juice as a result?!  The bigger the company, the better the results should be.  Allow your prospects to shop and compare your communities with your competition on your own site.  Make it even easier for them than the websites you pay to advertise with and create a shop and compare chart with  all the amenities and services you offer right next to what your competition offers.

This will work for almost any website really.  Do you own a hair salon?  List your competitors, their services and rates and compare them with your own.  Run a local coffee shop with a few locations?  List your competitors and their menus and pricing.  Own a landscaping service?  List your competitors and tell the consumer why you are better.

DO NOT:  List their phone numbers.

DO:  Put photos of your competition.

DO NOT:  Bad mouth your competition.

DO:  Share reviews about yourself and your competition.

DO:  Add as many competitors as possible.  The average consumer will find it anyway.

DO NOT:  Be afraid!  The average consumer already knows your competition anyway!  If they don’t then don’t listen to me.

I’m not going to tell you every little detail of this concept and how to make it really work.  If you want a great plan of execution then you’ll find me.  I’ve given you enough information to be dangerous.  If you really are better than your competition, offer complete transparency and crush your competition online and in your bottom line.

Gloom and Boom

It’s not a typo.  It’s not all gloom and doom unless you decide to get caught up in it.  I attended the Apartment Association of Metro Denver’s Economic Conference this morning and the economists who presented were painting as optimistic a picture as they possibly could.  The whole time I couldn’t help but think of this title because it seemed to be the exact picture they were painting.  Denver is slated to be one of the top markets in the nation in 2011.  Jobs are coming back.  Concessions are decreasing.  The gloom is where we are today and what we have all gone through up to this point.  Personally, many of us have experienced either job loss or income reduction.  Professionally, our companies have experienced layoffs, budget cuts and become reliant on concessions.   Jeff Riggs of Baron Properties put it well when he said, “there are challenges, but we have an opportunity to gain back what we lost… we have a different environment and have a chance to catch up.”  The boom comes in building confidence at the site level that generates excitement and enthusiasm rather than doubt and fear as you take away their concessions.  Occupancies start to go up, rents start to go up and we start to “catch up”.  I know catching up doesn’t exactly sound like a boom, but it’s all how you look at it.  We surely can’t get ahead until we catch up.

The Apartment Industry Arms Race

I’ve not blogged in a while, but this topic keeps coming up almost every day for me.  I see it in marketing, IT and operations on a regular basis.  Essentially, there is a race in our industry to be the first company that can be a one-stop-shop for owners and managers.  The more services a company can offer, the more weapons they have in their arsenal.  In meetings with credit reporting/background verification companies, they talk about their Craigslist posting service and web site design capabilites.  In meetings with property management software companies, they talk about their ability to do utility billing (RUBs) or lead tracking numbers.  In meetings with lead management and call tracking companies, they talk about their upcoming property management software package.  In a few years you will be able to go to the company that did your water billing five years ago to design your website, track your leads and manage your social media.

There is an inherent problem to all of this, initially, but I think we’ll find it to be extremely successful in the long run.  The best way to illustrate this issue is using an industry that is very near and dear to me, the auto industry.  Growing up in Detroit, I watched the big dogs slowly lose market share to newcomers to the market.  Hyundai and Kia, for example, started to manufacture cars in South Korea.  Hyundai was originally a construction company.  Kia originally manufactured bicycle parts and metal tubing.  These two companies are now one large company and happen to be the fourth largest manufacturer of automobiles in the world.  A South Korean company.  Who would have thought?  Just like who would think today that a company that we use today to track our marketing leads might become our property management software provider in a few years?  It will happen and stranger things will also happen.  Here’s the issue I need to address:  Kia and Hyundai made crappy cars for a long time.  Cheap and crappy.  So crappy, they had to put 10 year warranties on them in order to compete.  These cars didn’t even last ten years.  The tires didn’t even last ten-thousand miles.  I’m exaggerating, but hopefully you get the point.

The companies that are in this race in the apartment industry are essentially designing a vehicle for property owners and managers to drive their business.  The problem is some of them have crappy transmissions and some of them have to demand a recall because the gas tanks explode on impact.  To put it in terms of our business, some of them have crappy craigslist posting tools and some of them have not quite figured out how to make sure there isn’t a break in the code when a resident tries to reserve an apartment online.  This means we have to have spare parts lying around to compensate for the shortcomings of the “one-stop-shop” concept until it is perfected.  This could get pretty costly, but in the long run we may simply have to sacrifice in order to support this initiative.  Also, there will be a-la-carte options offered as well, I’m sure, but this too will more likely cost more than the one-stop-shop solution.

I don’t know who the winners will be and I sure don’t know how long it will take for the first company to get there, but the bottom line is, this is a great thing for our industry.  Kia and Hyundai make some pretty nice cars today and are winning awards for quality and design.  I hope the companies that are competing in this race to be all things to all people in the apartment industry figure this out soon.  It’s exciting to watch as the quality of products and services in our industy continue to improve.

Thank You for My Freedom, Grandpa

Ray H. Owen US NavyToday is Veterans day and the fact that I have the freedom to basically blog about whatever I want is a result of the Veterans of the US Armed Forces who gave or risked their lives for my freedom and yours.  If you have an opportunity today, thank a Veteran. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Grandfather, Ray H. Owen who was a pilot in World War II for the US Navy.  He is a true American Hero.

I would also like to thank one of my closest friends, Mike Kuta who served in Iraq during Desert Storm. 

Thank you to all of you who have served to protect our freedom!

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