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What I’ll tell the apartment managers about social media

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Today I’m headed up to Santa Rosa to speak at Adam Japko’s Multifamily Social Media Summit. Here’s a summary of what I’ll say. First, I’ll welcome the guests to Sonoma County, and try to describe a little bit about what makes it such a great home to wine. I’ve long thought of Sonoma as “California’s winiest county” (which is how I described it in A Wine Journey along the Russian River), and I think it’s fair to say that no other county has the breadth and depth of varieties and  types (including sparkling wine) that Sonoma does.

Adam also asked me to talk a little about how I got into wine, so I’ll describe the way I fell head over heels in love with vino in 1978, getting deeper and deeper into it until I moved to San Francisco, in 1980, and became a denizen of the city’s better wine shops (which back then you could count on the finger of both hands). I’ll describe my career thus far and how I landed the job of reviewing California wine for Wine Enthusiast.

Since this is a social media event, I’ll talk about my own experiences in this sphere–about how and why I started my blog in 2008. (I can hardly believe it’s been that long.) Adam’s main thing, of course, is to promote the use of social media as a tool for busy professionals (this particular event is for apartment complex managers who want to learn how to use social media to make their jobs easier and better). I’m not particularly in a position to advise them on that, but what I can do is describe how my blog has made my life easier and better, and also how it’s contributed to my “brand.”

Now, I don’t really think of myself as a “brand,” but I know that some people do, because they tell me so; and Adam himself sees me that way. (Of course, he also sees me as a human being and a friend, which is how I want to be seen!). However, I’m objective enough to understand that there is a sort of branding process going on with me, in terms of having a reputation, and Adam wants to know how my reputation (or the way I perceive it) has been impacted by my blog.

I suppose–and, again, this is based on what people tell me–that my reputation has been enhanced by it. I don’t mean “enhanced” in terms of people thinking better or more highly of me, but in the sense that more people have heard of me because of my blog. It’s quantitative enhancement, if you will, not qualitative enhancement. I think Adam is eager for the apartment complex managers to hear from someone who started out as a total ignoramus when it came to blogging, and ended up with quite a successful little blog–not financially, for this gig doesn’t make any money, but in terms of being popular.

Here are tips I’ll give the apartment managers for a blog (and many of these tips can be extended to other forms of social media as well:

1.   post frequently.

2.   post with passion.

3.   personalize your posts. Don’t write like you’re some anonymous automaton. Let people feel your humanity through your words.

4.   provide links, where appropriate, to off-site pages that bolster your arguments or otherwise amplify your message.

5.   provide photos and/or videos.

6.   don’t take criticism too seriously. I doubt if apartment complex managers will get the same kind of slamming I sometimes do, but if they do, they should laugh it off.

7.   don’t expect an immediate return on your investment. In fact, you might never see ROI, measured as dollars. The point of blogging, and social media in general, is brand building. Which leads to my final discussion

What is “brand building”? I would argue it’s none other than forming relationships. In the case of social media, they’re digital relationships, but that’s all right, they’re still relationships. You have conversations with others that are real-time, and this allows readers to feel that they’re part of your life. Or, more correctly, that both of you are part of a bigger social life. Partners, in a sense–co-participants in something grand and lovely. That’s how it seems to me: my biggest gripe with winery social media (including web pages) is that the content often seems grudging. It’s like they feel they have to put something up, but it’s not grand or lovely, not personal, not selfless. Selfless? Yes. You can’t be holding onto something and be successful at social media. The late sports writer Red Smith was said to have replied, in response to whether writing a daily column wasn’t hard, “Why, no. You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” He didn’t mean that literally, obviously, and he didn’t mean that it was an incredibly difficult thing to do. What he meant by “bleed” is what we might call “letting it all hang out.” Putting all your cards on the table–being genuine. Social media types call it being “authentic” and “transparent,” and it’s hard to explain; you just have to learn how to be that way (and you can’t be that way online if you’re not that way offline, in real life).

Does that sound a bit esoteric? I suppose it does. But it’s what I’m going to tell the apartment complex managers.

  1. Steve, Love this post. You are correct in saying that brand building is “none other than forming relationships” but I would go further and say that it is not only forming relationships, it is about maintaining them. As John Morgan says, “The future of branding is marketing with people, not at them.” In terms of building a brand, the reason brands exist is to move beyond being a commodity. Great brands create real value that translates to the bottom line and while individual products may quickly loose favor, a successful brand lives on.

  2. Hi Steve. I also really like this post. I also think it’s great that Adam is looking outside their core competency for insight (sometimes the best ideas come from people who know very little about the day to day operations of a business).

    I also would like to add that there’s a big difference between building a brand – and building COMMUNITY. In this case I don’t think the brand building is as important as building community which will increase owners or tenants satisfaction considerably. Get people who live (or work) in these premises to get involved so that there’s a feeling that the posts are more about them then the rules and regs and whining that can occur whenever people live in close quarters. For example – there might a call out for ideas on making the neighborhood safer, or having someone come in to teach CPR or how to fit a stuffed up toilet.

    Looking forward to hearing how it goes – I’m sure it’s going to be great!

    Julie

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  1. Social Media for Multifamily in 5 Easy Steps [Infographic] | On-Site.com - […] On-Site was privileged to sponsor the Multifamily Social Media Summit in Sonoma last week. For two days we learned …

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