Adapting and evolving: How leveraging technology can better serve the communities you manage
HOAs across the United States communicate via Facebook, one of the most popular and widely used social media networks available today. Within Facebook, pages or “groups” can be created, which function as an online community for people with similar interests to discuss various topics.
There are two different types of Facebook groups: Private or Public. When set to private, the group takes on an administrator (or group of administrators, otherwise known as moderators) that have complete control over the functionality within the group. Administrators can monitor and remove comments, approve or deny posts, remove people from the group, and much more. The group's activity and security are at the administrator's discretion, and nobody else can make changes or edit settings.
Below, you will learn more about how a Facebook page does not deliver on the needs of an HOA community regarding communication. Here is a list of 4 reasons why your HOA’s Facebook page just isn’t cutting it:
With a public OR private Facebook page, privacy and security become the number one issue for an HOA.
A private Facebook group or page has its benefits for an online environment for an HOA, but it doesn’t deliver the necessary tools and information needed for HOA members. It mainly creates more headaches for board members. It leaves the homeowners' questions unanswered because the functionality of the page is left to the administrator (which would typically be a board member within the HOA).
In the case of a public Facebook page or group (as most Facebook groups are), anyone can join a group, comment, and create posts. This makes for an online environment that is un-moderated. If you live in an HOA that utilizes a public Facebook group, you’ve probably dealt with many issues.
In terms of privacy and security, you and your neighbors are at risk of the following when you utilize a Facebook page as your primary source of communication:
Anyone who is a member of an HOA Facebook page wishes to post something about their HOA can do so at will. Posts can be about anything. For example, a broken street light, unknown cars parking on the street, the grass isn't being mowed, or even an event suggestion.
Whatever the purpose of the post, however random or essential, it will all be posted to the same place on Facebook. Members can scroll up and down the page to look through the posts (which can be highly frustrating, especially with many posts being made). With little to no organization for the page, the risk of potentially missing what you're looking for increases dramatically. You may have to sift through days, weeks, or even months of posts that do not pertain to you, or they just simply aren't what you're looking for.
This is what happens when there is no “owner” of the page. Administrators or moderators can act like an owner in the case of a private Facebook group. Still, these administrators are limited to the confines of what the Facebook platform offers. On top of this, all of the data accumulating within the page is being shared with Facebook, which has a notoriously risky history with data privacy and protection. There is no real sense of responsibility with running a Facebook page, especially when it pertains to an HOA organization.
Unfortunately, Facebook does not allow you to upload files accessed within one group or page. So, in the case of uploading important HOA documents for homeowners to quickly access, Facebook cannot grant the ability to do so.
This means that if a homeowner within an HOA wishes to access the community guidelines regarding architectural changes, they will have to contact an HOA board member directly because Facebook will not allow files of any format to be pinned at the top of a page. This creates more steps and headaches for HOA homeowners and prevents them from getting answers on their own. For many homeowners, this can cause heavy frustration and be a point of contention between them and their board members, adding fuel to the fire of an already tenuous relationship (most of the time).
A more obvious hurdle when dealing with Facebook pages for your HOA is that many people do not have a Facebook account. Even if they do, it's not guaranteed that they are a frequent user. If only a few members of your HOA fall into either of the categories mentioned above, then your HOA is already at a disadvantage. Even if your community is large and tightly knit, having a small minority who don't have the same access to information about the HOA’s policies, events, or maintenance, is unacceptable.
If members of your HOA need to access information regarding community guidelines, events or have a question for their board, they’d have to do it via Facebook. So, if multiple HOA members aren’t registered for Facebook, they will have to create an account and learn how to use it to access the information they seek or send emails to the board causing additional work.
With a dedicated community website, it’s easy for anyone to access information as long as they have a simple internet connection. There's no need to force anyone to utilize social media, especially if they are trying to gain information about their HOA. Social media (and especially Facebook) can be hard to adopt for people unfamiliar with it, and it can be a lot to take in.
TownSq has carefully crafted a solution that aims to help members of an HOA alleviate all of the issues mentioned above. With the TownSq Community Website feature, users can create a community website that takes less than 20 minutes to set up. From having the privacy, you pay for being in the loop with all the changes being made in your community, no matter the size.
One of the many benefits of a Community Website via TownSq is that it makes verifying the members in an HOA exponentially easier. It also helps to keep private matters of an HOA between members and prevents those matters from being accessible to the public on Facebook.
Community Websites also do an excellent job of remedying a massive stream of posts on an HOA Facebook page by creating an organized, private, secure, and safe environment. Specific sections on the website can be dedicated to events, community-wide announcements, and most importantly, easily accessible HOA documents (such as CC&R’s).
With a community website built with TownSq, everything has a place and is easy to access, eliminating the need to sort through unnecessary information.
TownSq also makes it easier for the board member or manager, with one app for it all you can easily update the website with no experience, respond to homeowner requests, upload important HOA documents, and keep track of everything for your community saving you valuable time!
If you're interested in moving away from your Facebook page and utilizing a community website that can streamline the way your HOA operates, click the link below to register for a free demo of the TownSq community website tool.