From the Winter 2021 Issue
Why Social Media #Fails for Condo Corporations
Connecting in the Digital Age
“Did you read what the tenant from the 10th floor wrote about management? She posted a long message on Facebook saying they handled her complaint about the [insert common condo complaint here] terribly.” “Really?! Wow, I can’t believe that. This place is so poorly managed. We should all complain, and maybe they’ll finally do something about it.”
Social media has transformed the way we receive news, share messages and access information. It is fast, free and easy to use, making it an attractive platform for communications. However, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t always ideal for companies or corporations.
Consider this fictitious conversation between the two condo residents. While it may not be real, anyone who has lived in a condo has seen the myriad of angry posts on their condo community’s Facebook page. Usually started and managed by a resident, the condo’s group page consists mostly of complaints and items or units for sale. That’s not to say that the issues brought forward on social media are not valid, but residents tend to feed off of each other’s frustration or outrage on the online space instead of taking steps that will resolve or clear up the issue.
Condo managers and boards know that residents are active on social media, which is why they may be tempted to get on Facebook or some other social platform. It’s possible to believe that stronger ties between members and management could be established online. Maybe they could even address some of those issues shared on the Facebook group and help create a happier condo community. But, managers should know this first; social media can be a helpful secondary communication stream, but it should never be used as a primary communication method.
Social media fails for condo corporations because of the lack of control, privacy and organization - three critical things that management staff need to communicate effectively. Unlike a condo management software platform or resident portal, Facebook wasn’t designed specifically for condo corporations. It can be used in many different ways for private or personal reasons, and not all of them are productive. While it can be a platform for communities, most people use it
as an individual platform to express their personal thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Lack of Control
Tenants use social media as a platform to air grievances and frustrations. It’s not often that productive conversations are hosted on Facebook, and we don’t often get all of the facts. Furthermore, this online space can create a herd mentality, meaning when one upset tenant presents an issue, others who may have similar issues will share that person’s anger and take their explanations at face value. Even if management has started their own group and has the authority to moderate comments, their messages or posts may not read as they had hoped they would. It’s harder to communicate through written words than it is when talking to someone face-to-face. And, managers may start receiving harsh private messages from tenants, even if they cannot share their thoughts publicly on the group page.
Unregulated social media communications can inflame tensions and, in rare cases, spark financial liabilities or legal issues. If you post on behalf of the corporation, stick to general information, events, and content that won’t generate negative opinions.
Lack of Privacy
It’s hard to know for sure that members belonging to a condo group on social media live in the building. Some members may have moved out, and others may not live there at all. This is another reason why any information shared on a social media platform should be general. Never distribute private or personal information. Remember that condo corporations are private businesses and, as such, have an obligation to protect their clients and staff (and, in this case, residents).
Lack of Organization
Social media is all about keeping followers up to date with the latest and newest content. But that can make it hard for managers to keep track of posts that aren’t brand new. If they don’t answer a question or share a link immediately when they see a new comment, they may forget to respond.
Regardless of the value or reach of social media, it was never intended as a forum for robust condo communications. Condo management is a regulated system that requires records and paper trails for conversations. Social media circumvents a lot of this, which is why it cannot be used as a primary communication stream.
Not Everyone Uses Social Media
While it is convenient and easy to use, not all condo residents are on social media. Others have it but don’t check it very often. That’s one more reason why condos cannot rely on Facebook alone to get messages to everyone.
When thinking about how they can improve communication with residents, condo managers and boards are encouraged to use a resident’s portal or software in combination with other communication methods. They should continue to print out a small number of paper announcements and notices for those who are never online.
Having a Facebook community group can be a helpful addition, especially if residents like using social media. But social media is not without its challenges, and someone has to be responsible for monitoring and managing the platform. Otherwise, it turns into a stage for criticisms and one-sided stories.
Brian Bosscher is the president and founder of Condo Control. He started the SaaS company in 2008, bringing with him a wealth of experience from the software development and wholesale banking/capital markets industries. Brian is also the board president of his condominium.