This week, I began a partnership working with a new client, a residential community that is a gated golf and tennis community in Boca Raton, Florida. When I first spoke with them about their desire to start using social media, I researched their competitors and discovered something that mystified me: few residential communities have discovered (and started taking advantage of) effective use of social media.
What’s Currently Being Done
A few have Facebook pages, but many actually use the “place page” (meaning, the page where people check in on Facebook Places). In doing so, they aren’t using all of the features available for a business page, including landing page, and many other customizations that a fully-fleshed out business page offers. Very few are using Twitter. But when creating a social media campaign, businesses need to determine whether their constituency would actually use Twitter. Some are using YouTube, but not using custom graphics to stand out… and don’t use it with any regularity.
Essentially, while residential communities may have begun to discover social media, the door is wide open for a neighborhood to step in and take the lead… to find a way to differentiate themselves by using social media.
Yes, some neighborhoods have websites where people can read about upcoming activities, and see photos of happenings. But social media allows neighbors to engage and respond with each other in a way that might not be possible unless you were forced to sit through an annual HOA meeting.
So how to use social media?
Communities with lots of activities can post a daily schedule. While I realize some might say, “hey, I can just find that info on the website”, the fact is that people who are not at home can more easily access that schedule from a Facebook app on a smartphone than the community website. They can also post pictures and videos of events, and even provide links to media mentions about those events. Doing a service activity to benefit a charity? Talk about it in your social media properties.
Another way to use social media is to let the community know of fun activities going on in the area, such as concerts, arts & crafts fairs, theater, sporting events… the list goes on and on. And if somebody wrote an article about the city you live in or nearby schools, this would be a great way to disseminate that info.
These communities can also inform their neighbors of more time sensitive events, such as a break in a water line, weather-related incidents, or an attempted home invasion prompting people to be more vigilant in their security.
Neighbors could also request info on contractors or possible service vendors. People could also express concerns about issues that might affect home values. And polls are a great way to seek and find answers.
Monitor Your Social Media Properties
Of course, if you provide the venue, people will inevitably complain. However, they’re going to complain whether you provide the venue or not, so you might as well provide the venue and take control of the message. It’s important to create policies regarding usage of a community social media profile so no confusion occurs. Once those policies are set, communities need to monitor and respond, and do it quickly.
The worst thing that can happen is for any company to set up a Facebook page and then not check it from time to time. If somebody complained about the president of your neighborhood and nobody responded for a few days or even weeks, then the complaint goes unchallenged and becomes fact. In addition, neighbors need to respect the privacy of those residents who don’t want their photos on a Facebook page.
Take the social media challenge!
By setting up social media profiles, neighborhoods and communities can make themselves stand out from the crowd. Not only might the residents appreciate and find value in these social properties, but another benefit is the value it adds to those considering buying a house in your community. This demonstrates a desire to serve the residents in a fun and savvy way.
- Use of Social Media Pays Off (blogs.constantcontact.com)