With smart-phones dominating the cellular market, people now have Internet access anywhere and everywhere they go. While shopping and “googling” are leading reasons to use the Internet, the rise of social media has changed the way in which people interact with one another, businesses and government. Earlier this year, the City of New York hired its first chief digital officer, a former Bloomberg Businessweek “Most Promising Social Entrepreneur,” Rachel Sterne. She has been charged with developing Web 2.0 technologies and social media initiatives geared toward connecting the city’s 83 agencies and keeping residents informed.
Like city government, homeowner associations, boards and management companies are also looking to branch out for the same reason: to inform residents. “Social media creates a virtual community and that can be a great way to accomplish community events and committees,” says Brandon Osman, director of business development for Metropolitan Pacific Properties, based in Astoria, Queens. “It also helps with branding and the marketability of your community.”
A recent CNET report found that 27 percent of small businesses are on Facebook, 18 percent are on LinkedIn and seven percent use Twitter. While the Facebook percentage may appear small, the report found that social media use in this demographic has doubled, with 75 percent of businesses polled owning a page on some type of social networking site. Boards and homeowner associations that have not taken the plunge should consider the importance of having a social media presence. For example, 64 percent of Twitter users and the 51 percent of Facebook users say they are more likely to buy brands if they “follow” a company or are a “fan” of a company.
“Condos or HOAs who use Facebook or LinkedIn are seeking to expand its presence,” says Georgia Lombardo-Barton, president of Manhattan-based Barton Management, LLC. “There might be a broker or possible buyer interested in that building’s profile that might not otherwise have considered it previously.”
While the writing is on (Facebook’s) wall, some remain slow to adopt, explains Osman. “We are aware that there is a social media frenzy these days, however, we are hesitant of involving social media in our management practices as we feel this can be a recipe for disaster,” he says, adding, “Yes, they are a community but do they all know each other well enough to communicate personally?”