Effective Communication Always Engages
By James Garner
NABR Network

























Nabr Network is a social network specifically designed for members of Community  Associations (Homeowner Associations, Condo Associations, Property Owner Associations and Housing Co-ops).  The mobile and desktop network allows a community feed, calendar functions and other great features to communicate important and useful information from the Association to its residents, as well as allow residents to communicate with each other.


                       






















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Being involved in communication for over 25 years, I empathize and understand the communication challenges that  management firms and community associations face. The task of providing critical information and attempting to engage the homeowner can be daunting. Recently, I attended a luncheon of our local CAI chapter and heard a wonderful presentation. The first thing the speaker asked a room of community managers, business partners, management executives, and board  members to do was to take one minute at our tables and identify the most challenging thing(problem) about your job. With close to 25 tables in the room, the three or four that shared their answer were all related to communication woes.

Organizations/Associations have the burden to communicate effectively, so their members will receive it and engage. If the purpose of the communication is to engage a community, that communication must be targeted in such a way that is the most effective in reach and engagement of the member.

As we know, dated websites can easily become vast silos of information where no one visits anymore or engages with the vital information provided. Is the information important and vital? YES. Does the website host the information and present it without flaw to the association? YES (assuming it’s consistently update, which is a problem within itself).  The truth is that homeowners typically go to an association website to pay their fees and sometimes check the status of their account. That may only be once or twice a year. With this important information on websites, have we engaged the homeowner to action, to participate, to bring his positive influence to the community? Do we wonder why no one knows about the spring event, monthly board meetings, the update on the capital project, the recent crime spree, or a way to positively interact with their neighbor? Is there a way to engage the homeowners who are positive, cooperative, and willing to participate in a constructive way?


The answer is a resounding YES. Social Media brings with it a negative connation to our industry because it has invaded our neighborhoods causing confusion, division, and havoc with uncontrolled rants and negativism. Unfortunately, associations and management firms have been forced to defensively react to these uncontrolled, unofficial social networks either by ignoring them, monitoring them, or constantly trying to clarify and correct the confusion they have created. The reality is that Social Media is engrained in our culture and will continue to be a powerful communication venue in the years to come. The real time technology of social media can push vital information in such a way that homeowners will receive it and engage.

Where do we begin? Let me suggest the following:
 
Begin now developing or adopting a Social Media Policy.
The Social Media technology has invaded our neighborhood associations and management firms have been forced to react to the negative ranting that takes place on open networks like Next Door and Facebook. Ed Hoffman, Jr. Esq., in his article,  Guidelines for Social Safety- How to stay in control of the Association’s online World, in Common Ground, May/June 2012, identifies a few practical steps to help communities and management companies stay out in front the social media  phenomenon. I have summarized and included a few of these practical steps.

   *   Adopt a Social Media Plan/Policy
   *   Approve and Identify a “ Official Social Page/Network” 
   *   Limit and Control Content
   *   Monitor and Manage

Select a communication tool that provides control functionality of content and usage. This adoption will quickly curtail or end the unofficial voices in the neighborhood and eliminate the confusion that the unauthorized open networks bring. Interactive communication in a controlled environment facilitates friendly neighborly connections and engagement. Informed and connected homeowners will make better decisions and actively engage in building a sense of community.

Implement a “Push Out” information technology where the homeowner can receive it in real time instead of the “go to” action that a website requires.
Technology with the real-time functionality that pushes information via a mobile application (smart phone) tablet device or desktop gets the communication where people will receive it. Technologies are available today to push information to an official social network feed, a text, or email to your mobile device, tablet, or your desktop.

 
Secure a Good Social Communication tool that can have landing pages which energize existing websites. Critical documents and forms can be hosted on the public landing page or in a password-protected secure area. Secured portals or links should be available to access account information, pay fees, and seamlessly work with management software. The tool should work for you either in your current environment or in a stand-alone scenario eliminating repetitive communication tasks, thus saving time and money. For example, pushing out a frequently asked question and answer in a social feed on a regular basis will quickly reduce the number of calls to the manager and the board. The important FAQ hosted on most association websites is still hosted, but also can be pushed out in a timely, scheduled manner.  Announcements that sit static on websites can be easily pushed out on a scheduled plan to be in front of the homeowner.

Ignite the positive influence.
Association and management company news/updates/reminders, lost and found, local news, crime alerts, all in real time can be sent to where they can easily receive it. Informed and engaged homeowners are more likely to involve themselves and generate a powerful, positive energized influence for the community and association. 


James Garner
Nabr Network
Addison, Texas
*http://www.cbpp.uaa.alaska.edu./afef/mobile_rising.htm
                       

 
 

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