It’s often hard to fully comprehend how quickly technology has evolved during our lifetimes, and much of that change is a result of how much closer we’ve become—virtually, that is. Whether it’s finding cheap plane tickets, or a restaurant for a Saturday night on the town, the Internet seems to always have the answers. Technology also has transformed the way we communicate by providing us with new places to correspond, through email, message boards and social networking websites. But what is readily available at our fingertips is not always properly used, even if it seems to provide immediate satisfaction.
The Web Necessity
Still, given the need for neighbors to communicate, it’s no surprise that leaders of homeowners associations are using the web to talk with each other in-house, build community cohesion and to distribute important information. More frequently these days, property managers and board members are taking their communities online and using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with each other. While these tools can be useful in spreading important news around the community, they also can be launching pads for misinformation and rumors, which cause problems in a building. Clearly, how one uses online tools to interact with the community can define the success (or lack thereof) of that communication.
In a time when nearly everyone—from children to septuagenarians—are surfing the web, not having a web presence for a multi-family community is becoming the odd exception. That’s because the easy access for users, and the breadth of contact available through the Internet, is far more effective than other forms of communication. Spreading the word via the web allows you to be able to address a broad market, while everybody gets the same information and you are able to get immediate feedback, says Steve Cohen, vice president, operations, for A&N Management & Consulting in Boca Raton. But the very things that make the Internet so attractive as a communications tool, also can have a downside, he adds.
“You can misinform people very quickly, and many people view things documented online as the end all to be all. There’s a potential for error,” Cohen says.
Sometimes, using a hard copy newsletter or a piece of regular mail to convey community information might be more appropriate media for a particular message, but some people tend to use the web even for such messages, partly because the ‘net is so easy to use. That’s why A&N Management & Consulting still uses quarterly paper newsletters for its clients, in addition to helping them maintain websites and convey Internet-based messaging.