These days, there are a few people who don’t have a business website, a Facebook account and even a Twitter handle. It’s the same for buildings.
The rise of social media invades every aspect of our daily life, and property managers have embraced this tool as a great way of connecting with residents in their communities.
Email lists, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and – more recently – custom mobile apps, have supplanted the mail room bulletin board as the primary means of inter-building information exchange.
Although there are no current statistics showing what percentage of buildings in the South Florida area are using websites to communicate with their residents. But, local board members and management companies report that nearly all of the larger building and organizations have some form of web communication.
But in the Sunshine State with its large population of elderly retirees, the trend is catching on with the senior demographic, but more slowly. “Here in South Florida we have a huge snowbird and retirement age population and most of them don’t even have email. We are talking about people in their 70s and 80s who did not grow up on computers,” says Ken Direktor, a lawyer with Becker & Poliakoff in West Palm Beach. “I am advocating for notices to be sent by email, not to mention that they save money. The turnover to more computer-friendly board members is sort of like an evolutionary change because it’s a generational transition.”
“Our HOA website is primarily information and data sharing,” adds Edwin J. Latalladi, CPA, CMCA, AMS, and executive director of Ibis Property Owner’s Association in West Palm Beach. “Residents can find a lot of forms on the site so they don’t have to come in in person, it’s readily available to them. They’ll find forms like an architectural change request, information for a permit or any type of license that’s required on the property.”
“One of great things about websites is that they can provide the opportunity for feedback in terms of allowing reader’s comments on articles and by providing online message boards,” says Peter Schulz, Green Cay Village Condo board president and creator/editor of their community website. “The problem is that there are some really hateful and vile people out there and, without monitoring feedback 24/7, a site can rapidly degenerate into a creator of problems in its own right. I tried allowing online feedback a few years ago and the comments were uncivil to the extreme. I couldn’t take down the offensive comments as fast as they were being posted. So I changed the site to only allow the comments to appear after I had reviewed them. And with that, all comments stopped. The haters moved on to other prey and the watchers went elsewhere for their entertainment.”
The best foundation for a tight-knit community, however, is good communication. Communicating what’s happening around the community will keep residents happy and informed.