Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Damaging

Social Media: The Good, The Bad and The Damaging
The Negative Impact Social Media is Having on HOAs
February, 2017

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Instantaneous fragments on Twitter and Facebook is the new normal for how we get our news and communicate with one another. Never before have we been so connected with our favorite musicians, artists, actors and politicians. With a click of the mouse or smartphone app, we can read messages and see real-time photos that leave us feeling more engaged than ever. Social media has created a forum for sharing family photos and sending well wishes, and a platform for promoting our favorite restaurants, brands or, dare I say it, political causes. It has changed the way we communicate and interact, and to a large degree, its impact on our lives has been positive. But there is a dark side to social media and its effects on our homeowner association communities (HOAs).

Community association industry experts, from management companies to law firms, all seem to agree that social media has generally not been good for the communities we service. While we all on occasion see negative posts on our personal Facebook and Twitter pages, HOA social media pages seem to attract an abnormal number of individuals who prefer to use these on-line forums as an outlet to post negative messages, from complaints about their neighbors to derogatory comments about their volunteer Board Members or community vendor partners. Oftentimes, the messages posted from the comfort of the individual’s electronic device are more aggressive and less professional than we would experience with in-person, face-to-face communication. In the end, the unintended consequence is damaged community reputations, and in some cases, even suppressed property values. After all, if given the choice, would you knowingly purchase a home in a troubled community riddled with conflict? I’m asked all the time by realtors and potential buyers – how is the Association?

Your residence is likely your single biggest investment and your community is the place you call home. Negative on-line social media postings for residents, guests, real estate agents and potential buyers to see can negatively impact home values and undermine the integrity of your community. While some argue that their social media pages are “private”, nothing posted to on-line forums is private, so it should be assumed that anything posted to social media is public for all to see.

As the owner and president of a management firm focused on extraordinary customer service, I value constructive criticism and feedback. In fact, I encourage it. This is how we learn and grow as an organization. The vast majority of our association partners and respective Board Members share my desire to hear from the residents we are proud to serve. But there is a productive and professional way to share feedback and a counterproductive way. Turning to social media to post negative content on a public on-line forum is not effective or productive, because in all likelihood, the individuals you are sharing your feedback with are not the individuals who are able to address these requests or concerns. They are your neighbors and friends, not the Association’s elected leaders, management team, or respective vendors.

So as a resident, how do you effectively share feedback and address your concerns? The good news is that residents who live in HOAs have built-in, legally required procedures to allow for owners to effectively share comments and feedback – Board Meeting Homeowner Forums. Per Civil Code, Homeowner Forums are required at each Open Session Board Meeting. At these Homeowner Forums owners have a captive audience of the Association’s elected Board Members and management representatives who ultimately are the parties and entities that have the authority to address your concerns and feedback. In addition, because generally speaking Board Meetings are closed to anyone other than existing homeowners and invited stakeholders, Board meeting discussions are limited to those attendees.

Urgent or pressing matters that arise between Board meetings should be addressed with your management team, who may be able to assist you directly or guide you regarding how best to handle your request, conveying pertinent information to the Board of Directors as may be necessary. PMP’s resident clients have access to a live, professional and knowledgeable Community Care Team, Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:30pm, to assist them with their needs, as well as a live, helpful after-hours emergency team for evenings and weekends.

HOA Social Media pages, such as Facebook and Twitter, should be utilized to make friends, meet your neighbors, share positive messages and create a sense of community, not as a sounding board to post negative or damaging comments about your HOA, its Board of Directors or community vendors. We all have the same end goal – to enhance the community resident experience and protect the value and integrity of the HOA. Let’s work together to stop the negative postings on social media sites and make a concerted effort to promote positive, community-building messages that leave residents feeling proud of where they live.

Questions, feedback and suggestions for future topics can be submitted to DRHOA@PMPROLLC.COM.

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