Community Tips for Using Social Media Wisely

To keep up with the way residents today expect to communicate, homeowners’ associations (HOAs), strata corporations, and condominium corporations must consider their social media presence. Whether your community is comprised of single-family homes with young couples or a high-rise of older adults, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that people of all ages use social media. Identifying the best—and wisest—uses for social media can be the biggest challenge for board and strata council members. Here are five expert tips for handling your social media channels wisely.

Have a strategy for using social media.

First, there should be a clear goal for how and why social media communication is necessary. Define how your board or council will use social media. Have an understanding of each social platform, and use this to formulate your strategy. Consider the uses for the following platforms:

  • Private social network. Similar to public social networks such as Facebook, private social networks, like TownSq, are exclusive to its members. They require members to be a part of a common group to join, and members are often invited or asked to provide proof of membership to be accepted to the network.
  • Twitter. A public social network, Twitter is typically used to communicate news, statistics, facts, events, and community stories.
  • Facebook. One of the most commonly used social networks, Facebook often has a more personal connection. This platform can also be used for news, events, community stories, polls, surveys, and more.
  • LinkedIn. LinkedIn is used for professional networking. It’s a platform where you can connect with other board or council members, industry leaders, and colleagues. It’s best used for educational content and events.

Board and council members should stick to using social media to communicate information on events, happenings in the community, and polls and surveys. Take into consideration what each platform is used for, and establish your community’s official channel on the platform that best suits the content you expect to share with your residents. Then, only use this channel as your primary means of communicating via social media.

Adopt a Terms of Use plan.

It’s always important to be mindful of what you post online. For that reason, boards and councils should adopt a Terms of Use plan for their official social media channels. This plan should spell out acceptable behavior, language, postings, and other protocols to ensure civil discourse.

Note that even if you remove a post after publishing it, there are no guarantees that someone hasn’t already seen it. Be sure that whatever you post online is something that your community can afford to live with forever—because it just may have to.

Take disputes offline.

Today, more and more people are using social channels to publicly post issues with other residents, organizations, rules, or even just contrary opinions. One thing should be clear to all board and council members: Social media is not the venue to resolve disputes with residents.

Board and council members should address disputes, issues, and negative comments following these practices:

  • Reply stating that you understand the issue and that you acknowledge their concerns.
  • Message them directly to continue working on the issue.
  • Use direct messaging to leave your contact information and invite them to contact you.

The goals are to preserve the board and council's reputation with the community, repair the relationship with the resident as much as possible, and take the conversation offline.

Know the law.

Boards and councils should have a general understanding of acceptable postings that don’t violate copyright law or infringe on the intellectual property of others. What type of social posts are legally compliant should be outlined in your social media policy. Ask your community's attorney to review your social media policy to ensure it covers all legal concerns.

Key considerations:

  • Photos. Whether its photos of events, pets, houses, or structures, if you take a picture with your camera, do you legally have the right to post that photo?
  • Consent. A simple thumbs-up doesn’t cut it when you’re talking about a legal agreement. Getting written consent is important when posting photos taken by others, as they may be subject to copyright. Ask permission to take pictures at community events.
  • Sources. A community's online reputation should always be trustworthy. That’s why it’s essential to ensure the information you share is credible.

Post on the official community channel.

Anyone can create a group page or account on a public social media platform. For any fringe, informal group pages not governed by a community's board or council, proceed with caution. Board and council members should always refrain from posting on informal social media pages in the community. All posts and comments should only be communicated via the official community channel.

Don’t let cautious steps scare you from taking advantage of all the benefits social media offers. Check out this post to learn how social media can be your friend—not your foe. 

About the Author

Andrew  Fortin

As senior vice president of external affairs, Andrew oversees Associa’s public affairs, media relations, government affairs and corporate citizenship efforts. Bringing more than 20 years of experience in the public and government affairs arena, Andrew’s focus is working with Associa’s clients, industry colleagues and business partners to ensure a vibrant future for client communities and Associa employees.

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