HOA communication tools are vital to staying connected with the community, but are you taking the right approach with yours? Openness, transparency, and relevance should be crucial elements of the HOA communication policy you use to stay in touch with your HOA community members.
Reaching Out to HOA Members Through the Right HOA Communication Tools
Are you keeping up with the modern ways by which HOA communications are sent and consumed by readers? HOA newsletters, HOA websites, and other forms of community bulletins are more than just for posting the details of your next HOA meeting. When you update homeowners on what’s going on in the HOA, you are building trust. Homeowners are more likely to be interested in the details of how the HOA is doing things for their community, and how they can cooperate.
Why Proper HOA Communication Tools Are Vital for Board and Homeowners
First, you need to consider the governing rules and state regulations when it comes to HOA communication tools and the way you use them. In general, HOAs are required to give members and homeowners access to records and documents related to association activities.
So not only is your HOA communications policy promoting openness in the community, but you’re also seeing to your legal obligations as well.
Your board spends a lot of time and effort in carefully considering every step taken by the HOA, but if homeowners aren’t aware of the reasoning and the planning process behind them, you might meet with some resistance. When you implement projects without letting community members know why you are spending money on them, there’s a disconnect that can lead to issues later.
Lack of communication with the community is probably the number one reason that your HOA board gets most of its complaints. Without a solid HOA communications policy in place, your homeowners might feel that the board is not tuned into the concerns of the residents.
Even if you have a good HOA communications policy in place, you will still need to get your message out there. Outdated HOA communication tools that don’t mesh well with the way your residents find and consume information can lead to their own problems, as well.
If the output of your HOA communication tools are hard to access, filled with outdated information, or simply do not appeal to your residents, your homeowners may feel that the board is not moving quickly enough to follow up on its responsibilities and decisions.
The right set of HOA communication tools is the one that best fits your community. There are many boards that stick to the tried and tested printed HOA newsletter. There are also HOAs that have gone high-tech and have invested in their HOA websites and email updates.
With the wide range of options available nowadays, you can mix and match to come up with the HOA communication tools that get your message across without cutting too much into the association budget.
1. Printed HOA Newsletters
Lots of people still prefer the familiar feel of an ink-and-paper HOA newsletter, particularly if you are working within a community in a rural area.
If you want to target older readers, giving them something they can read over the breakfast table is a good approach, as well. Even with the rapid growth of internet users among older Americans, the printed HOA newsletter still has its fans among many HOAs.
HOA members do need to consider the cost of printing and mailing HOA newsletters, especially for large communities. Printed HOA newsletters also tend to fall behind when it comes to sending out last-minute reminders and immediate advisories to community members.
2. Email HOA Newsletters
Communicating with your HOA members via email can yield tremendous benefits in terms of responsiveness and cost savings.
Distributing email HOA newsletters can be done today using online services that are available for free for the most part. It’s also a communication channel that scales really well – sending email newsletters to 20 versus 500 members will end up costing you just about the same.
For HOA boards that serve large sprawling communities, the cost savings are simply too large to ignore.
Another advantage of email HOA newsletters is that they can be easily personalized. With the right email setup, you can send out HOA newsletters that address their readers by name, and that’s a huge thing for increasing open rates and engagement from your community members.
3. HOA Websites
Print and digital HOA newsletters, for the most part, are HOA communication tools that work only one way. That is, the message gets to the homeowner from the HOA board, and that’s about it. Any additional interaction is done via other means – by a phone call, a meeting, or email.
What’s more, HOA newsletters tend to be static publications that offer limited engagement to the reader.
HOA websites, on the other hand, can offer so much more in terms of interactivity. Effective HOA websites are engaging experiences that offer a great way to distribute information to association members. Perhaps more importantly, HOA websites can offer several ways for residents to leave feedback.
A good site will have an easy-to-use contact form that accepts a brief message from a visitor. If they prefer another way, they can also call the phone number displayed on your website or leave an email via a convenient link.
One important advantage of HOA websites over HOA newsletters is that they are available to outsiders, as well. While HOA newsletters are typically distributed to community members only, your HOA website is available to everyone – including families that are about to move into your community.
4. Social Media
Social media platforms are great communication mediums for HOAs. They are highly accessible and often don’t cost anything. Your HOA can benefit from having a Facebook group or page where homeowners can discuss community issues, engage with other members, and even sell items. Another advantage is that you can post updates in real-time and even share documents, images, and links.
Keep in mind, though, that you should never use social media to disseminate sensitive or confidential information. There is also no guarantee that all residents will see your posts or updates. Thus, it should not be your primary mode of communication.
You should also develop a social media policy to control how owners behave online. This will allow you to moderate and guide what owners can and cannot say on your Facebook group or page. A typical policy also includes refraining from posting offensive or derogatory comments.
5. Video Conferencing
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, HOA boards everywhere are using video conferencing as a way to hold meetings. Pandemic or not, though, video conferencing remains a viable form of communication. Third-party software such as Zoom, Skype, and GoToMeeting allow boards to conduct meetings remotely.
Most of these programs come free of charge, have both desktop clients and mobile apps, and have a multitude of features that make virtual meetings smoother. Some of these features include screen sharing, virtual whiteboards, and file sharing.
Of course, the only downside to video conferencing is the potential for lagging. Since this type of communication tool relies on a stable internet connection, it might alienate those who lack access to such an amenity.
6. HOA Software
A lot of HOA management programs come with all the bells and whistles, including a variety of communication tools. The beauty of such software, as compared to traditional email or SMS, is that you have more control over the messages you send out. This type of tool usually offers message or email templates, making it that much easier for your HOA board. Additionally, you can customize a ton of preferences, including the manner in which messages are sent, who receives them, and when.
One of the most concrete benefits of HOA management software is that you can access a history of communication records. You can find everything — even files, letters, and forms — all in one neat place.
There are many social media platforms you can use, but Nextdoor deserves its own slot on this list. This app was specifically created for residential communities. With Nextdoor, residents can connect with their communities or neighborhoods. They can share news, recommend local vendors, and more.
A majority of HOAs use Nextdoor for organizing events as well as buying and selling various items. Though, some have used it inappropriately to share gate passcodes and say negative things about HOA board members. It is worth noting that you have no control over what residents do or say on Nextdoor. Therefore, you must not use it for any official HOA business.
To start using Nextdoor, all you need to do is enter your address.
An Integrated Approach for Your HOA Communication Policy
Fortunately for HOA community managers, you don’t have to stick to one set of HOA communication tools to get your message to your members. The important thing is to be familiar with the technologies available and find that optimal combination for your audience.
When owners are well-informed on the HOA decisions being made, you’re able to minimize complaints, build better trust, and have a more engaged community overall. The key is to focus on great communication, which is the biggest part of any successful relationship. Need some tips on the HOA communication tools that the best HOA boards use today? Give us a call, and let’s look into the options that best fit your community today.
- HOA Communication Tools: Keeping A Close-Knit Community
- How To Use Social Media In HOA Effectively
- 13 Tips To Write HOA Newsletters