Homeowners nowadays expect to find the information they want, when they want it without too much effort. With almost all homeowners having access to the internet and email and about 75% using some form of social media, the way homeowners get information has changed. It’s no surprise that today, the tried and true newsletter of the past, quickly finds it’s way to the recycle bin with the rest of the junk mail.
Unfortunately many associations have been slow to adopt online communications. Some Communities have no website or official online resources, while many that do, keep them well hidden with outdated information and a cluttered design.
The good news is, when homeowners don’t find your community website they will probably find that unofficial website, Facebook page, or random post filled with glowing reviews and heart warming stories about how the HOA listened to, and solved all of their problems. But just in case they don’t… you may want evaluate your communities online presence and consider some ways to get your message out. Here are 5 simple things you can do to become the prominent and trusted online resource for your community.
- Simple is better: A cluttered website is like a cluttered office it doesn’t make a good impression and it’s going to be hard to find the things you need. Your website should have the essentials but nobody cares about snow removal in the middle of August. Have a board member assigned to make sure the content of your site is relevant and current.
- Have a place for documents: Many associations are reluctant to post or share documents on the website. They want owners to jump through the cumbersome hoops of a “request in writing” and “within 48 hours”. Well for some request, this is fine but why not make documents like budgets, recent minutes, and policies available to the owners on the members only website. It will save you time and the homeowners will be less annoyed.
- It needs to come to them: Homeowner usually forget how fun and exciting their HOA website is so they need to be reminded. Regularly invite members to visit the website to find out whats going on in the community. Including the web address in emails and other correspondence with homeowners. Or better yet use a system that sends notifications when new information is posted to the site. This way, when they are seeking information they will know where to go.
- Address the tough issues: Homeowners often go to the website to be updated on big issues. Don’t be afraid to confront these issues and educate the members on policies and decisions of the board. This will help to dispel rumors and false impressions before they start to spread.
- Allow interaction: People want to be connected to their community and their neighbors. Allowing owners to interact (within the rules) will empower them and allow you to answer questions and address their concerns, and who know maybe they will even use it to socialize with their neighbors.
The point is, your community is online whether you like it or not, and if your not providing the online content they need there going to find false information that fosters mistrust and anger. Homeowners are smart and they’ll usually recognize the lies from the truth unless they can’t find the truth.
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