Scoring Tool Ranks Impact of Internet Listing Services

By Teresa O’Dea Hein, Managing EditorNorfolk, Va.— Vitrue’s Social Media Index (SMI), a recently launched free tool that measures a brand’s online conversations, reports that ForRent.com leads in social media involvement in the multi-housing industry.Based on patent-pending technology, SMI scores are comprised of various online conversations, ranging from text-dense micro-blogs to multi-dimensional video sites. Vitrue explains that ForRent.Com is actively utilizing social media tools such as Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.”The Vitrue Social Media Index provides invaluable insight for marketers to understand how they are stacking up in the social media space,” explains Reggie Bradford, CEO of Vitrue Inc. “Brands are being talked about in social settings and we are providing the ability to proactively track these conversations.” “In the last two years, we’ve embraced social media as an additional mechanism to reach people where they are,” Brock MacLean, vice president of Internet operations, national sales and development, For Rent Media Solutions, tells MHN. “It’s an ever-widening means to expand the distribution channel across the social media network. Social media is a very effective way to communicate with our core demographic of 18-34 year-old-adults,” MacLean adds. Generating more than 83 percent of social media activity, video sharing makes up the largest portion of ForRent.com’s SMI score. Apartment property video commercials seen on ForRent.com, called Community Theater, are distributed to an extensive network of channels including major search engines like Google and Yahoo!, social networking sites such as MySpace, and video sharing sites including YouTube. During October alone, these videos were viewed more than 17,000 times a day.Generating more than 12 percent of the SMI score, communication through social networking makes up the second-largest method of social activity for ForRent.com. More than 40 profile pages have been set up on MySpace, representing markets where the company’s anchor publication can be found. The remainder of the score is comprised of activity in blogging and micro-blogging. This number includes key influencers who chat and push content through micro-blogs, such as Twitter. Twitter is a service that allows its users to send updates to their “followers” while trailing other individuals as well. “I think we will continue to expand our reach into these social media spaces,” MacLean tells MHN. “We’re certainly encouraged by this recognition and validation from Vitrue. Things we hadn’t even considered 12 months ago are now possible,” he notes. “We’re evolving our services so that they’re flexible and positioned for things to come.”Five years ago, MacLean recalls, “Virtual tours became the must-haves on a Web site and only a year ago, video was edgy and cool but now I think video is becoming a must-have.” Plus, in the first quarter of 2009, the company is launching a specific iPhone application, he announces. “Frankly, we’ve only scratched the surface a little,” MacLean believes. “We started with our toe in the water and now are probably up to our knees.