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How to Master the Creation of a Custom Snapchat Story

Putting on an awesome event and want residents to be able to share their moments on one story? Snapchat has introduced custom stories, designed to make the sharing of big events easier! This is a great feature to utilize during your next big event. You’ll be able to invite your friends, friends invite their friends, or even have it set to show to anyone who is in a designated area known as the “Geofence”.

Creating this custom story is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4! See below on how to!

Take a Snap– You will need to start this off by taking the first snap! If you’re doing this for an event, take a quick snap of event set up, residents arriving, or anything else you’d like.

Tap “Custom”– this will be in the top-right corner of your story.

From here you can choose the privacy settings. Choose either Private Story, Custom Story, or Geo Story. We suggest using the Geo Story option as that allows you and anyone else in that area to have the option of adding to this story.

Name Your Story, Select Geofence Area, and Choose Who Can Add To and View– Select a name for your story. Be creative and make sure the name reflects the content you and others will be adding to the story. Next, utilize the geofence toggle. Simply enter in the address of where the event is taking place and that will make the story appear for anyone inside the designated area. Finally, choose who can view and add to the story. Friends of friends is suggested because this will not only allow that user to view and edit but their friends as well.

Click “Create Story”– Once clicked the story is published for use! The story will appear under your “stories” section. You and others can add as many snaps as you want to the story. Just like any other story, it will only last for 24-hours and you will be able to see who has viewed and manage other settings.

This is a great way to encourage user generated content amongst residents and market your brand!

Tips and Tricks to Bring in Reviews

It’s no secret that prospects are turning to online reviews when shopping for a new apartment. These reviews have a huge impact on whether a prospect decides to rent at that community or not. According to JTurner Research, the effect of online reviews on students’ decision to visit a property is rated at 6.26, while in conventional housing it is rated relatively higher at 7.33.

At Cardinal, we take reputation management very seriously as we have set monthly review goals for each community. The goal is to obtain a monthly goal of 2% of residents leaving new reviews. But some of you may wonder what is the best practice in terms of asking for reviews? And what is the best way to generate positive reviews?

Obviously, they key to generating positive reviews is by providing the best customer service to residents. The next best way is to ask for them! However, we know asking for reviews can sometimes feel like a daunting task. So we’ve put together some ideas and practices for bringing in those reviews and helping you hit your monthly goals!

  1. Asking a resident for a review in person is definitely the preferred method. Personal connections matter. Therefore, is so important to build rapport with residents before asking for a review. The best way to build rapport with residents is at events, when they pick up packages, etc. Asking happy residents for reviews always gets us the best reviews! But it is also important to get feedback from residents who may not be happy, learn why, and address those concerns.
  2. Have an internal competition with your teams. While this is not the most encouraged method, due to review sites strictly prohibiting against this, this is an option to use every now and then to bring in reviews. Use a cash prize or gift card for the winner as an extra incentive to get participation.
  3. Send out Jturner collateral! Not only does JTurner send out monthly surveys to residents they also send out to prospects upon completion of a tour. Use JTurner to you advantage, they are here to help! Remind TMs to ask for those reviews AND let residents/prospects know that surveys are in their inbox. Also utilize the simple survey links (​your PSM has these). It is also important to review trends (keywords) in Ratings Tracker and JTurner Dashboard and if possible make the changes reviewers are referring to. Once the change is made, email residents letting them know we listened and ma​de the changes they asked for.
  4. Leave maintenance cards in unit after service request is completed to satisfaction. Utilize FIFTY3 to get these made. Maintenance does a lot for the community! There is nothing better than to bring in some reviews for the maintenance team members and all the hard work they put into the community.
  5. Find ​which reputation sites are lacking in reviews and focus on asking for reviews for that site. This is an important one! The review sites with the least amount of reviews will have the most impact on your ORA score. Bring in a lot of 5 star reviews to a review site with very few reviews and see your ORA score boost!
  6. Have a monitor or screen set up just for reviews. Setup in leasing office so happy residents, prospects or event “goers” can leave a reviews while in the office.

Get Digital With Your Outreach Marketing

At our student housing assets, classes are ending and students are beginning to filter out of the market. This leaves many areas looking like ghost towns; making outreach marketing much harder and less effective. During the summer months, we should begin to shift our outreach efforts online. “But Ryan, how can I use my Tshirt Cannon 3000 on the internet machines?”

You might not be able to use your swag bazooka, but thinking strategically and using channels our target demographic frequent you can drum up some valuable leads. Check out these digital outreach ideas below.

Reddit University Pages
Most, if not all, Universities have subReddit pages. Students discuss everything from course recommendations to housing suggestions on these pages. By filtering posts with certain keywords such as “apartment” or “housing” you’ll be able to dig up instant prospects. Simply google “___Insert Name____ University Reddit” (make sure to put your target University’s name) and you should be able to find the subReddit you’re looking for. Once you’re in the subReddit click the “search” bar in the right-hand side and type in your desired keyword (such as apartment) and search. You can then sort posts by “new” to bring up the most recent posts to the top. You just struck gold. Reach out to prospects on any relevant posts and give them information about your community and any current specials!

Facebook Groups
Many students are active on University-related Facebook groups. These groups offer a forum for students to sell items, ask questions, and interact with each other. One particular set of groups that sees a lot of activity are incoming freshman groups. These groups are often names XYZ University Class of 1234 (i.e. Florida State University Class of 2022). Freshmen generally know less about university-related topics and are often more curious about these topics. If your community can house freshmen this could be a fantastic source for mining leads.

Simply search for a group on Facebook, click “join group”, wait for approval of your access request, and then look for opportunities in posts that you can offer up your community as a housing resource!

Hashtag Mining 
Hashtags can be a marketer’s best friend. When users use hashtags in their social media posts it gives marketers a backdoor into finding prospects. Many students will use hashtags that relate to their university which gives you an opportunity to engage in their conversation. For example, incoming freshmen at Florida State University are using #NowANole to declare that they are headed to FSU! There are many different hashtags that students might use that relate to the university. Do a little research about the top hashtags you should target and then get to mining!

Social Media Location Mining
What if I told you there was a way to interact with residents that live at your comps? Would you send me a million bucks? Great, you can make the check out to Ryan Sundling. Residents at your comps are likely taking photos at their apartment community and tagging their photos at that location. Simply look up the location on Instagram and have instant access to residents at your comps.

Micro Influencers
Influencers are people that use their large social media presences to subtly advertise products. For example, you may follow someone on Instagram that is a fitness guru. They may partner with a running shoe company and post a photo of them lacing up their new shoes. Those shoes happen to be from the company the influencer partnered with in exchange for money and/or free product. We can do the same thing but on a smaller level. Look for micro influencers at your target universities. This might be a popular frat president, fashion blogger, or other minor “celebrity”. Offer them a gift card if they post a story about them touring your apartment community.

User-Generated Content
Calling user-generated content (UGC) outreach marketing may be a stretch but it can be a great digital marketing weapon. UGC is when a social media user posts content on their profile about your brand. This could be a user attending one of your events, touring the community, a resident showing off their apartment, etc. Our goal is to encourage this content by offering contests and other incentives. One strong example is holding a contest with current residents where you ask them to create an Instagram  story giving a Cribs-style tour of their apartment. In their story they need to include a certain hashtag and tag your community. At the end of the contest choose a winner and give them a prize like a smart home package. Additionally, ask the resident to download the story and email it to you in exchange for a $20 gift card and rights to use it for marketing purposes. Now you’ve had residents evangelize your community to their friends, many of whom are prospects, and you have tours of different unit types you can use to show future prospects each unit type!

Email Student Groups, Orgs, and Athletic Teams
If you can capture big groups of residents you’ll increase your chances of hitting 100% greatly. Student groups, organizations (i.e. greek life), and athletic teams all offer the opportunity to capture groups of leases. Reach our via email to these groups and offer your community as a living option. Personalize each email and offer something unique to that group. For example, if you’re reaching out to the swim team tell them about your great lap pool and that you’d reserve the pool for practice during a certain day and time just for them. Another approach is to offer tiered incentives based on the number of people that sign from that group. For example, if 4 people from the same Greek organization sign you give $200 to their philanthropy. If 8 people sign you’ll donate $800. If 12 or more sign you’ll donate $150 for each lease.

Outreach marketing can’t stop just because your market has fewer people physically in it.  Hopefully, this post gives you a few more arrows in your quiver when marketing your community this summer.

How to Have a Successful Resident Event

Let’s face it, we’ve all been here. We plan for a big event that we think will be a huge success. We invest a lot of time, money, and effort into an event where well no one shows up. It stinks right? We get discouraged and start avoiding putting on resident events altogether or just sticking to the basic Taco Tuesday and Free Food Friday’s where you know residents will come.

But have you ever really thought about why that event may not have been successful? In today’s student housing market, it’s going to be hard to please everyone. But through understanding YOUR market you can begin to host events that fit into your community’s interest.

I have put together 5 keys to pulling off a successful resident event.

1.Know Your Community

While a concert on the lake sounds like an amazing event, that’s not going to work for every community geographically or demographically. Find out what your residents have in common. Do they like sports-centered or fitness geared events? Are they more into adventurous outdoor activities? Surveys or polls can help you identify their interests. Create a private Facebook Page only for residents of the community and really get to know one another and each individual’s interests. This is a simple way to give you a great understanding of how to provide the best possible customer service to your residents.

2.Advertise Wisely and Get the Word Out

Yes, it’s important to create flyers to post around the community, but it’s also important to interact with your residents to promote the event. Throughout the week or weeks leading up to the event give sneak peaks into the setup and planning to get residents excited. This could be through Instagram live stories or Snapchat stories.

3.Involve Residents in Planning

It has been said people place a higher value on things they help create. This goes for resident events as well. Seek out residents who may be interested in helping plan the event. Maybe they have insight into what they want to see in a successful event.

4.Take Lots of Photos and Video

We want every event to be Instagram worthy for residents! Use these photos and videos on your community’s social media channels. Remember, the higher quality the photos and videos the more likely the residents are to share them on their own channels.

5. Learn from Each Event

Maybe this event wasn’t the biggest or best. BUT, you can take the results from this event and learn for the next one. Take a post-survey to find out what residents liked or disliked and apply this feedback to your next event.

We hope this helps when it comes to planning your next big resident event! It is important that through every resident event we are attracting new residents, retaining old ones, and developing a positive reputation in the area. And remember, the more you put into the event, the more you will get out of it.

Talk Derby To Me

The Kentucky Derby is May 4th & 5th and even if you don’t know a thing about horse races, you can still throw a killer party in honor of this historic sporting event. Your residents will love this spring themed party, I mean who doesn’t want to break out their best hat, bow tie, and sip on mint juleps while watching horses run in a circle? Sound like something you want to try out at your community?

Here are some tips and a list of essentials to get started below!

The first step is to think about where you would host this event and how it fits into your community. Do you have a space that offers tv’s to watch the derby, but also enough space to entertain guests with food, drinks, and games.

A few spots come to mind:

  • Rooftop Deck-This would be my first choice especially if this space has TVs.
  • Clubhouse-Almost every community has a clubhouse where they host resident events. If you go this route, use greenery and roses to make this feel like an outdoor party.
  • Pool Deck-You could turn this into a pool party inspired event featuring your own Unicorn Float Races!

Here is a list of things you will need to pull off your very own derby party!

Shopping List:


Food & Drinks

*Most of the food can be catered, but get creative with it based on what your residents like. We do not expect you to make this food from scratch but do keep in mind a classic southern style menu when hosting this event and steer clear of the pizza party vibe. 

Keep in mind the aesthetics when putting together this and future events. The more you put into it the better return you will receive from your residents. We want every event to be an “Instagrammable” moment that your residents are proud to share!

Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!


The Best Floats to Add to Your Next Pool Party

Summer is right around the corner and with that comes pool parties! So we put together a list of the 11 coolest pool inflatables to add to your next pool party

1. Giant Inflat-A-Bull

Be brave and experience bull-riding on the edge.

Purchase Me!

2. 7′ Unicorn Sprinkler

The most magical way to cool off when the temps start to rise.

Purchase Me!

3. Pizza Slices Inflatables

The ultimate pizza for the ultimate pool party.

Purchase Me!

4. Giant Flamingo

Grab your friends and get some sun in this awesome float.

Purchase Me!

5. Donut Say No to This Pool Float

Because you can’t go wrong with a giant donut.

Purchase Me!

6. Water Wheel

Ever wanted to see what it’s like on a hamster wheel? Now’s your chance.

Purchase Me!

7. Pineapple Inflatable Cooler

Keep your drinks cool without ever leaving the pool.

Purchase Me!

8. Rosé Floaté

Why not Rosé all day with this pool float.

Purchase Me!

9. Mermaid Tail

Don’t you want to Gram yourself as a Mermaid?

Purchase Me!

10. Pink Convertable Float

Arrive to the pool in style in this retro pink convertible float. Let’s go over the specs of this ride: Queen sized daybed for 2, massive front cooler for ice, drinks, or your speaker, dual cup holders, and each float purchased from this site provides one person a year of clean drinking water!!

Purchase Me!

11. Yacht Float

“Everybody look at me, ’cause I’m sailing on a boat!”

Purchase Me!



You can’t buy this pre-made but man would it be fun!  Battleship Beer Pong! Tape 3 pool noodles together to create a large ring, like THIS. Then fill the ring with drink floaties like THIS. When someone makes a cup in a floatie remove that floatie! There are probably one hundred other ways you could DIY a similar concept! Get creative!

Image result for battleship beer pong






Online Reputation: How It Plays Into a Renters Search


How crazy is it that we live in a world where we have unlimited information at our fingertips? Seriously, no matter what industry you are in, you can hop on Google and be a self-taught “expert” at something in no time. This is also the case for our industry. Someone can Google our communities and know just as much about the property as the leasing agent does before they even walk through the door. This isn’t always a bad thing, especially if your community has an amazing online presence, great reviews, quality photos, etc; but for a majority of us, this isn’t the case.

With the power of the internet and social networking sites, the consumer now plays a large role in our communities success. The days of resolving problems with unhappy customers face to face is long gone and now if a problem arises, the first place they look to rant, isn’t over the phone, it’s on the web! If sites like Google,, and Yelp weren’t enough, adding social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in the mix allows prospects to share their experience with their entire network of friends. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, unless your BIG REPUTATION, isn’t as squeaky clean as Tswifts.

The ability for consumers to review your business shouldn’t be a scary thing, there are many positive reviews out there being posted daily that help drive traffic to our communities. Let’s go over some stats:

  • 92% of consumers read online reviews.
  • Businesses with mostly 1 & 2-star reviews fail to convert about 90% of their prospective customers.
  • Every star a business loses will cost them 5%-9% of their revenue.
  • When JTurner surveyed 17,000 students and asked “Do you utilize online reviews in your apartment search? 86% answered Yes.
  • A bad review reaches 2x as many people as a positive one.
  • 45% of consumes SHARE negative reviews on social media & 63% of consumers READ negative reviews on social media. (As if people don’t share enough on social media these days: recipes, animal videos, inspirational quotes, now they are sharing our negative reviews?? Great!)
  • The last and most important stat that stands out to me is 88% of consumers TRUST reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. 

All of this data can be overwhelming, but in a nutshell, all it’s saying is your online reputation DOES matter! People are looking at this when they are searching for an apartment and if we don’t stay on top of this, your community can get overlooked when it’s time to lease!

So let’s break this down into a few key points: 1.)How to get more reviews, 2.)Where to focus these reviews, and 3.)The importance of responding to these reviews.

How To Get Reviews

Sorry to break it to you, but there is no secret recipe for gaining reviews. The very best way to get a REAL positive review is just to ask. If your communities are providing great customer service and hosting memorable events then that is your secret sauce to getting positive reviews.

Hounding your residents while they are enjoying an event at the community isn’t the best place to solicit reviews. Instead, let them take in that experience and focus your time on making sure that everyone attending is having a great time. After the event is over you can guarantee days later these residents will be in the office to pick up packages, pay rent, etc. This is your time to engage them, and ask how they felt about the event, did they enjoy themselves, inform them of more upcoming events, and then mention leaving a review or sharing their experience on social media.

There are so many opportunities throughout the year to ask residents to leave a review, for instance after they have moved in and turn in a satisfied inventory and condition form (that’s your cue!) Or after maintenance responded to a work order and went above and beyond their expectations (again, that’s your cue!) ask away during these positive moments.

Prospects can be a little trickier to get reviews out of, but they are also some of the first to write a negative review if our customer service didn’t meet their expectations. This is why it’s so important to stay on top of our CWOL and engaging the customer on a more personal level. At the end of the tour, the prospect should feel comfortable talking to you and this trust should only build as you help them begin their application. Making things easy for our consumers gives them a great talking point when we ask them to write a review about their leasing experience. For example, Prospects can’t say “I love living here, my apartment is beautiful, I love maintenance, etc. But they can say “ Just signed a lease at ____ apartments, the application and leasing process was all online and super quick, can’t wait to move in!” This is the type of review you should try to gain from your prospects.

Where to Leave a Review

Trying to get your ORA score up and reach the Top 1% list? There actually is a science to it! Did you know that asking everyone to leave you a review on Google only can actually hurt your score? For example, if you are currently at a 65 ORA score and you received 15 new Google reviews and 2 new Yelp reviews for the month, but you noticed your score didn’t change, here’s why. If you have 100+ Google reviews, then the 15 new ones you just received, aren’t going to help out your score very much. But if you only have 5 total Yelp reviews on your account and you would have asked those 15 Google reviewers to post on Yelp instead, your score would have increased. The fewer reviews you have on a site, the more impact reviews will make. Be strategic about where you need these reviews the most, and then focus your month on obtaining reviews for that specific site, this will help boost your ORA score and increase your online reputation.

The Importance of Responding

Ensuring we are responding to positive and negative reviews within 24-48 hours of it being posted is the Cardinal standard. Think about it this way, if there is a negative review that sits unanswered this gives the unhappy customer more time to spread their feelings throughout other sites. Sticking to this timeframe will also keep others from chiming in on your behalf and adding fuel to the fire. The same rule applies when it comes to positive reviews as well. If someone has taken the time to leave a review that speaks highly of your community, it’s our job to recognize them and let them know that we value their feedback. It’s important to keep in mind that if we are promptly responding to these reviews, we will gain control of our online reputation.

Here is an example where a resident shared a negative experience on Nov. 2nd. This review received likes from 2 other people and back and forth conversations with an outsider before the onsite team responded 10 days later on Nov. 12th. If the team would have responded immediately, they could have dealt with this situation offline and this could have saved this issue from escalating.

We focus so much attention on making sure we have the best possible online presence, from our websites looking and performing at their best, to our social media pages depicting the lifestyle and feel of the community, but the one thing we can’t manipulate is our online reputation. This reputation isn’t something that is created by us, instead, it’s created by consumers that have had experiences with our business and it’s our job to make sure this experience is worth talking about, positively!!

Event Idea: Rotten Egg Hunt


We all know Easter Egg Hunts are soo elementary school. You hunt for eggs and all you get is candy. But what if there was an Easter Egg Hunt for adults? Where you have no idea what will be in the eggs you find. Maybe there’s some booze, some bacon, some condoms, or the normal chocolate. Introducing the Rotten Egg Hunt!

Residents will love the creative twist on this event and its perfect for college students! It is also relatively inexpensive to put on.

Event Item List

  • Easter Eggs. These can be purchased at your local grocery or party store.
  • Adult Surprises. Some examples are booze, bacon, condoms, chocolate. Really you can put whatever you’d like in the eggs!

It is important to market this event a couple weeks prior to the event and create an event on FB for residents to RSVP. This way you will know how many residents to expect and how many Easter eggs and surprises to buy.

Event Setup

This is a pretty simple set up! Purchase all Easter eggs and surprises to stuff the Easter eggs with. Fill all Easter eggs with the surprises. Next, hide all the Easter eggs throughout the community. It is suggested to do this event outside and have all the eggs hidden on the outside of the community. Now you’re ready for the rotten egg hunt! Gather all residents outside the community and go over how this event will take place. Will there be a time limit? Will there be a prize for the resident who finds to most eggs? That’s up to you!

Have a local bar or restaurant sponsor this event and have some food and drinks following the event!

Ready to put on this event for your residents!? An RFC can be put in HERE

Event Idea: Night Volleyball!

Most communities have a sand volleyball court and with the warm weather quickly approaching residents will start using this amenity more and more. Sand volleyball is always fun for residents, but most of the time they are playing during the day. So we thought to take it to the next level and play at NIGHT. This is simple to put on using string lights. It is suggested to have residents create teams and sign up in the office. A tournament bracket can then be created for the amount of teams signed up and there can be prizes for the winning teams.

Read below to see how to put on the relatively inexpensive event!

Event Item List

  • String lights. These can be strung through the volleyball net and around the court.
  • Glow volleyball. This can be purchased on Amazon Here.

Event Setup

First, purchase all items needed to put on this event. You will want to begin the set up with stringing the lights through the volleyball net. This will light up the court enough for players to be able to see. Next, you will want to place string lights around the outside of the court. This way players will be know where the out of bounds is. Finally, create the tournament bracket and play volleyball!

It would be a good idea to cater in some food and hire a DJ to get the most out of this event for your residents! Make a night of it and get your residents talking about this experience!


There Is Such a Thing as Bunny, Goat, or Puppy Yoga And We Suggest You Do It


Ready to really throw a twist on a common event!? Introducing Bunny, Puppy, or Goat Yoga!  And yes, we mean real goats, puppies, and bunnies attending yoga with you.

We’ve talked about the importance of crafting unique and memorable experiences for your residents and this event is sure to deliver. It’s just like a regular yoga class, except there are adorable little animals running around. Which basically sounds like heaven, right? So, to create this memorable experience we’ll need to first decide where this event will take place. If your community has an enclosed gym or yoga room this will be the perfect place. The location will need to be enclosed in order to keep the animals in the room with the attendees. Once you have selected your space you will need to gather yoga mats. The amount will vary depending on the number of attendees. If your community has yoga mats already, perfect! But we suggest encouraging attendees to bring their own as well.

The next component to this event is obviously the yoga instructor! Hire a local yoga instructor or reach out to residents to find an instructor willing to join in on this fun event.

Now that the scene is set, it’s time to get the animals! We suggest getting the animals from a local goat farm, rabbit rescue, or animal shelter. Again, the number of animals will depend on the number of attendees but around 10-15 animals is suggested.

Not only is this a fun event to get your community talking, but it is also a great way to incorporate fundraising for local animal shelters. Some ideas include:

  • Working with the local shelter and all dogs/bunnies adopted that day will have their pet fee waived.
  • If attendees post a photo or video on social media using a specific hashtag we will donate a certain amount of money to the shelter.