Published in the ECHO Journal, December 2011
Are you ready for “social media” or do you still hope it will fade away? If it’s the latter, you are definitely out of luck. According to Facebook, five years ago there were 12 million active users of its social media website. Today, that number has grown to over 500 million active users with 50 percent of those active users logging in on any given day. As if that weren’t enough, 250 million of those active users access Facebook via mobile devices. What does that mean for us? Social media is not only here to stay; it has become one of the fastest growing forms of instant communication in our society.
Currently, people shop online for houses as they shop for other items. Having a presence on Facebook makes your community more “searchable.” As a result, your community’s Facebook page promotes the values of your home!
So what does all this mean for community associations? Like all other forms of communication such as newsletters, websites or email blasts, boards of directors must establish rules and guidelines and maintain oversight, authority and ultimate responsibility for any information posted on a social media site.
Although this communication platform continues to evolve, below are guidelines every community should utilize when utilizing social media:
- Fully understand the work involved with social media sites, which includes creation, maintenance and response time to postings. Once this crucial discussion is made, you are ready for the equally crucial decision of who will administer this page.
- When choosing an administrator, consider a person(s) who is able to dedicate the appropriate, unbiased amount of time and who will always represent the community in a positive, truthful manner.
- Establish what is considered an acceptable posting and response, emphasizing instances wherein the board must be consulted.
- Remember that not everyone wants his or her picture posted, so establish Photo Upload Guidelines. Be sure to get written permission to post pictures of adults and especially children.
- Even when using social media, maintain the standards you would in any other public written communication. Showing your “personality” is great, but the standards of appropriate grammar and formatting should never change.
- Regularly visit and maintain your social media site to ensure the most effective and up-to-date information available.
- When a community establishes a social media site, it must be monitored regularly so that any incorrect, obscene, derogatory or inflammatory statements are corrected or removed immediately.
- Take the opportunity to educate and empower your community by quickly answering questions raised or addressing concerns reported.
- Before posting a message always ask yourself, “Is this something I would say in public and/or something I would want others to remember about me?”
- Always maintain confidentiality and avoid posting specific information regarding member addresses, account information, violation actions, etc.
- Last but certainly not least, always, always, always maintain the same level of respect and professionalism you would expect in return, never forgetting you are representing your entire community.
As with all things new, it is better to fully understand them rather than be intimidated by them. Social media should be embraced as a wonderful communication tool that will assist us in making our communities the best they can be.
Sandra Vela-Mora is an assistant vice president at ProComm Management, San Antonio, TX., an Associa company. This article has been previously published in Association Times, the monthly newsletter for Associa management companies.