Communication is the foundation of building strong communities. Today, communication can be instantaneous and engagement within communities can grow exponentially with one social media post reaching entire communities with just a few clicks. A knowledge and understanding of how to use these tools will ensure that your community has a positive experience on social media.
Americans are increasingly engaged in digital communication while “on the go” using smartphones, notebooks or e-readers. By 2018, 8 in 10 email users will likely access their email from their mobile devices (Marketing Land). “Every segment of the population is using their smartphone apps more over time, with 55-64 year-olds seeing the greatest year-over-year increase.” (comScore, Inc.)
Picking the Right Platform
The top five contenders:
Facebook (1.9 Billion users)
YouTube (1 Billion users)
Instagram (700 Million users)
Twitter (313 Million users)
Reddit (250 Million users)
Engaging with homeowners “on their own turf” is essential–not to mention fun! Facebook is the safest choice as it is the most widely used platform and provides incredible features:
Free to use
Group Creation Feature providing a private way to communicate among homeowners
Robust options for setting up individual HOA Groups including:
LIVE Facebook video capability means Town Hall Meetings are available to all homeowners. These live events are then archived as videos in the group.
Ability to report to admin inappropriate content
Who can post
If posts must be approved by an admin before they appear in the group feed
Group can be hidden or closed
Developing A Plan
Having a plan is critical to the platform’s success. Here are a few tips for ensuring that you are ready to begin.
Get the Board’s buy-in. If they are excited, that excitement spreads throughout the community.
Determine how you will use the platform:
Community event announcements
Welcome to new homeowners
Introductions to new clubs forming within the community (book clubs, Moms clubs, etc.)
Determine who will communicate in the platform (and how often).
Determine how individuals will be added to the Facebook group.
Create a clear social media policy. Drafted by an attorney, this document will ensure that all play fair in the group.
Use all current methods of communication to share this new way that you are building community within the association.
Provide simple instructions on how to download, locate and/or use the platform.
Consider creating a fun incentive for homeowners to join the group. For example, “One lucky homeowner who has joined the group by X date will receive a gift certificate to X local restaurant valued at $100!”
Look for ways to build engagement within the Facebook group.
Fun photo prop downloads for a community event
Scavenger hunt downloads
Introduction of hashtags
Tag homeowners within the group who are influencers within the community, ensuring they see the content and can “talk it up” offline, too!
Build Strong Relationships
Don’t talk “at” homeowners, talk “to” them!
Find positive reinforcement moments within the group, calling attention to those who share positive comments, photos and feedback.
LIKE and COMMENT whenever appropriate
The more you engage with your homeowners, the less likely they are to post negative comments.
Ensure you get as close as possible to 100% participation within the Facebook group. Nothing is more exciting than being able to type a message that instantly is in the hands of the individuals who need it!
Keep up with the platform.
Check in: Just as you check voicemails once a day and emails once a day, take 10 minutes and check the Facebook group. Even popping in to say hello and share another way you have supported your community today makes you appear approachable, available and professional.
Post regularly. If you don’t, you’ll lose them!
Every homeowner has a vested interest in the community they have chosen to call home. Providing a way to connect with others who share that common interest is an incredible way an HOA can build a positive community experience both on and offline.