Think offline, when responding online.

I've been neglecting this blog the last few months, thanks to some extensive travel, but am very excited to announce that we are officially implementing our Online Reputation Management (ORM) program — which includes setting up Manager Center on I look at this program launch as the next logical step in "embracing the conversation," and as with our social assets, our on-site teams will be responsible for crafting responses to any comments that are posted online, with our corporate team stepping in to help when needed. We have used this strategy across all 50+ of our community Facebook pages, and it's worked incredibly well for us.

Though review sites have been dubbed the Wild West of the digital world, we encourage our teams to simply think "offline" when responding online: in other words, think about what you'd say in an offline conversation, and then apply that to the online space. The below is taken verbatim from our ORM guidelines, and is at the core of our social/ORM philosophy:

Address each issue individually, and respond in a courteous, authentic, and professional way.

There's nothing fancy about that statement, but since tone can be tough to distinguish online, we have found that employing the "KISS" approach often works best: be professional, be authentic, and be helpful, and you've effectively addressed 99% of the negative comments that are posted online.

If you (or your company) are trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge into managing your online reviews, I'd encourage you to mull something over: if people are talking about your company (and chances are very good that they are), wouldn't you rather know, and be part of the conversation? Yes, it can be scary — but as the old adage goes, the devil you know is worse than the one you don't. Keep an open mind, remind yourself (and/or your team) of the basics of customer service, and jump on in. You'll be fine, I promise.

Though we are arriving a bit late to this particular party, I am immensely proud that our team is taking responsibility and "owning" what people say on the various review sites...and am very excited to see how our on-site team members handle this new challenge.

In the meantime, I am gearing up for one of my favorite conferences, NMHC's OpTech — if you are in Dallas next week, look me up!


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