10 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Community
If your condominium corporation is like a lot of others, it probably has a presence on social media sites such as Facebook. Therefore, you might consider your social media presence handled. What more could it take?
Turns out, the answer is “a whole lot.” Social media is about more than just the occasional post or tweet. In fact, a cohesive social media strategy can help you keep your residents informed, engaged, and involved.
Social media has many advantages over traditional forms of communication, like print newsletters (and even e-newsletters). Social media is instant, it invites two-way communication, and it’s a lot more cost-effective.
But with these benefits come pitfalls. A post or a tweet that strikes the wrong chord can live online forever, even if you delete it after the fact. Using social media correctly, safely, and effectively requires following a few important tips:
1. Keep your objective in mind.
It’s one of the cardinal rules of communication: Know what you’re trying to achieve before you type out a single word. As informal as social media seems, this rule of thumb still applies. Whether it’s strengthening a sense of community, imparting important information, or building your condominium corporation’s brand, know your real intention before you begin.
2. Make social media someone’s job.
Social media is just like everything else—if we all assume someone else is doing it, chances are it’s not getting done. That’s why it’s important to assign the role to a specific person. Just remember that this is a bigger job than merely tweeting or posting. Social media is all about the conversation, so the person you task with the role must spend additional time monitoring your social media channels and providing feedback and responses where necessary.
3. Some platforms work better than others.
Just like any project, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job. In this case, that means choosing the appropriate channel. It’s likely that Facebook and LinkedIn will be your go-to platforms for getting the word out about upcoming events and disseminating other important information. You’ll probably find that Facebook Events are a great way to invite participation and keep track of your RSVPs. For quick updates to what you’ve posted on these channels, consider using Twitter.
Just remember that it’s important to start right. When you set up your Facebook page, be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of public versus private pages. If you’re public, anyone can see your content. Private pages restrict access to only those who have been invited to join. Also consider whether you want residents to have the power to post content or if that should be left in the hands of your designated social media person.
4. Use technology to your advantage.
If you’re lucky enough to have partnered with a property management company, look to them to support you with some technology tools. The best companies will offer you platforms that will complement your social media program and enhance your communications efforts.
“Our FirstService Residential Connect platform is a complete technology solution for communications, and we tailor it to the specific needs of each community, as per the requests made by the condominium board,” said Michael Bodner, Director of Property Solutions at FirstService Residential. “FirstService Residential Connect enables the creation of custom websites, offers communication portals, connects residents to portals, allows community members to join groups for interaction, supports photo posting, and a lot more. And because it’s compatible with desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, it’s available anywhere users are.”
5. Get residents to engage.
You don’t want to be talking to yourself, right? That’s why it’s important to have an audience of fans and followers. You can start building this by including links to your social media on your website and other communications, and by promoting your social media presence at all events. But there’s even more you can do:
- Polls: Facebook offers this tool, and it’s a great way to get residents’ thoughts on events and topics. You can use this feedback to build your whole calendar, if you like.
- Events: Again, Facebook has an Events feature that makes RSVPs and event promotion super easy. Remember that Twitter is a great tool for reminders, too.
- Photo albums: Give participants the chance to upload and view photos from events.
- Photo updates: This is a great way to mark the progress of a big community project.
- Cross-promotion: Feature resident posts in your other communications, like your community newsletters.
- Recruitment: Social media is a great way to recruit volunteers.
- Contests: They’re both fun and functional! Photo-captioning contests and other contests bring people together and invite engagement.
- Star-making: If you have residents who are celebrating achievements or milestones, share it on social media (with their permission, of course).
- Requests: A direct appeal for feedback will get you a lot of response and engagement. Plus, it lets residents know that they have a voice in the community.
- Clubs: Your social channels are great tools for bringing together residents with common interests.
6. Put some thought into a defined policy.
A social media policy provides protection from liability. The policy developed by your condominium board should:
- Clarify who’s in charge of accessing the site and posting information.
- Prohibit negative or defamatory remarks.
- Define privacy rights when it comes to content that’s been published—both by users and administrators.
- Make clear that the condo corporation has the authority to remove any content it wants.
- Establish a process for screening content.
7. Boost the effectiveness of committees.
You already know how important committees are to condominium management. Now enhance what they can do by having committee chairs create private groups within your social media platforms. These are great places to generate ideas, share thoughts, and get things done.
8. Realize that some topics aren’t fit for social media.
Know the boundaries of social media. When it comes to condo management, it has a very specific role: to build community spirit and communicate events and information to residents and shareholders. Board actions and discussions shouldn’t take place in this format, ever.
9. Social media isn’t for everyone.
Board members and community managers shouldn’t communicate with residents directly via social media. These kinds of connections can result in a perception of favoritism, which impedes the best efforts of the corporation. A good rule of thumb is for board members and community managers to avoid “friending” and “linking” with residents altogether.
10. Be aware of the legalities.
Copyright infringement, plagiarizing, causing emotional distress, and violating privacy online are all activities that can result in legal trouble for your condominium corporation.
Social media is a powerful tool—if you use it thoughtfully and correctly. For more on how to do so, contact FirstService Residential, Alberta’s property management leader.