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Should You be "Friends" with Your Neighbors?

Social media is a great way to stay connected with people from all walks of your life — friends, family coworkers, neighbors, high school acquaintances, and more. But, with each social network creating their own definition for the term “friend,” it can be difficult to decide just how to connect with the people we interact with on a daily basis.

For instance, what do you do with connections, like neighbors, who are important in key areas of your life, like picking up mail when you’re on vacation, or alerting you to suspicious activity at your home, who don’t exactly fit into the “friend” category?

We polled many experts within the Associa network and the answer was clear: when it comes to managing your community and household responsibilities, associations should forego private groups on public social platforms and opt for private social networks. Many associations are already switching from their public Facebook groups and joining private social networks, like TownSq, Associa’ s preferred partner, for the control, security, and ease of use they offer.

Thinking about making the switch? Here’s what you should know about private social networks before you do.

What is a private social network?

Private social networks are similar to public social networks like Facebook, but with one huge difference: private social networks are exclusive to members. Public social networks allow anyone to join and interact, but private social networks require members to be a part of a common group to join. This requirement usually comes in the form of being invited by a current member of the group, or providing proof of membership.

Why should your association consider moving to a private social network?

The biggest benefit of using a private social network is, of course, privacy. Once your community is in an exclusive environment, you can communicate information that you wouldn’t want to share in public forums like addresses, phone numbers, or other information that would be harmful in the hands of strangers.

In addition to privacy, here’s what else your community gets when you join a private social network:

  1. Clear boundaries.

Having a private social network keeps relationships neighborly. Private social networks are dedicated to a specific purpose, so the communications don’t veer outside of the topics in the community. This helps residents avoid neighbor conflict because rather than communicating about the latest trending topics, residents only communicate about the issues they have in common that impact their community.

  1. More features.

When private social networks are developed for a specific user, like association board members and residents, you automatically get the added benefit of additional features that go far beyond social networking. Associa chose to partner with TownSq because our client communities enjoy the ability to pay assessments, schedule maintenance and even book common areas and amenities, in addition to the more social functions of a public social network, like posts, polls and messaging neighbors.

  1. Truly private posts.

When you post on a public social network, you never know who's looking at your posts. With a private social platform, you can be confident that your neighbors are the only people with the ability to view your information.

  1. A dedicated support system.

With public social networks, you have little control over how the network works and if you have any concerns, you don’t have a customer service team to guide you. With private social networks, you can work with your community manager to customize the experience so that the network meets your community’s needs. Additionally, if you do run into issues, the community management team and network service team are available to help.

The biggest concerns associations have when deciding to migrate from a public social network to a private one are: pricing, partnership and process. Associations have to keep the budget in mind; you want to hand your community's information over to a trustworthy, experienced technology partner; and you want a smooth transition process. You can have it all if you ask the right questions before making a decision. To know what to ask, download our ebook, 10 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Making Your Community's Next Technology Investment.

Social networks allow us to connect with key people in a quick, seamless way, but they also raise many questions about how we interact with these people. While public social networks have plenty of value, when it comes to managing private information, associations should consider a private social network. If you’re an Associa client and want to learn more about our partnership with TownSq, click here or contact your local branch for details. If you’d like to bring TownSq to your community, visit the TownSq site to learn more.