7 Tips for Setting Up a Facebook Page for Your HOA
By HOAleader.com, January 2015
Looking to set up a Facebook page for your condo or homeowner association? Here are seven tips for creating and managing it so it doesn’t backfire.
- Think about whether it’s your best move.
“I’ve helped boards that want to set up community pages, but I don’t know if I’d want them to do it on Facebook,” says Joshua Krut, a partner at Weiss Serota Helfman Cole Bierman & Popok, a law firm with offices in Ft. Lauderdale and Coral Gables, Fla., which represents about 250 associations. “I prefer to see associations use websites, instead. There are companies that can help you set up a website, and you can put things like architectural review documents there and have community chat rooms. You can have a Facebook page, and it’s not a big problem if you do. But with Facebook, the association doesn’t control the page. You’re dealing with a third-party administrator.”
- Know that it may draw in owners who otherwise wouldn’t pay attention.
“I’m a big tech fan,” says Melissa Garcia, a partner at Hindman Sanchez, a law firm in Arvada, Colo., with about 1,600 association clients. “I’m on Twitter, and I pass along lots of HOA practice pointers. I see the benefits of Twitter, and I also see the benefits of associations using Facebook. They allow associations to connect with owners whom they may not necessarily connect with by going to meetings, like millennials.”
- Understand the liability of the easy sharing on social media.
“There’s greater potential for liability for boards on social media if they’re not thinking about monitoring what’s being said or putting protections in place,” explains Garcia. “With social media, there’s an element of conversation that you don’t get with vehicles like a newsletter. People can comment and they can forward, and social media posts get catapulted into the cyberworld. Boards need to understand that maybe the people you intended to see something got it, but that it also went to a lot of other people. Boards also forget that the attraction of social media is that people can post on the go. So people forget to think about what they’re posting, which may lead to more defamation and invasion of privacy claims.”
- Have a policy in advance.
“Boards can do a lot of things to protect themselves,” says Garcia. “They absolutely need to have some social media policy in place to define who gets to post and what kinds of posts are prohibited, and reserving the right to block repeat offenders who are putting up inappropriate posts. They should also adopt individual controls—like Facebook can block words, and boards should use those controls, too. The policy should also include a code of conduct. It should state things like you can’t post confidential information, and you can’t use derogatory terminology.”
- Make your page closed, but send invitations to join.
Screen people who want to join your page to be sure they’re actual residents or owners of property within your HOA, suggests Eric Colburn, founder of Verdei Properties Inc., a community association management company in Dallas. But also send invitations to all residents so everybody knows the page is available, and encourage those who do join to check your page regularly to stay informed. As part of that effort, determine whether your page will be open to teens in the community or only adult residents. And when people move out of or sell their home in your association, remove them from the page’s membership.
- Don’t bore residents to tears.
Yes, it’s tempting to post lots and lots of board information on the page. But residents will stop checking in if your page is full of monotonous and lengthy posts about those issues, contends Colburn. He suggests posting excerpts from your rules only when a reminder seems to be needed, and adding a prompt to get members to read the whole document for context.
- Provide helpful documents.
Create a tab on your Facebook page where you post important documents like your bylaws and rules and regulations, meeting minutes, agenda items for your annual meeting, amenity rules, and so on, suggests Colburn. Also have a tab that opens to a list of important contacts for people like your property management company; reliable vendors for electrical, HVAC, and plumbing issues; and your neighborhood watch contact.
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