Most social housing landlords understand the potential of social media. However with the multitude of platforms and tools available, many are unsure of the best place to start.
That is why we have created this post to give you ideas, share sector examples and highlight innovative practice.
Facebook and Twitter
Lots of housing organisations are already taking advantage of company Facebook and Twitter pages to engage with their tenants, share event info, respond to feedback, provide useful community info and promote resident involvement opportunities. However a smaller number of organisations are also setting up specific resident involvement pages or encouraging their tenant groups to set up their own. Examples of both types are given below:
- Optima Community Association – facebook.com/OptimaCA
- West Kent Voice – https://twitter.com/westkentvoice
- Derwent Scrutiny Team – https://twitter.com/DerwentScrutiny
One very successful group is the Yarlington Chat Facebook Group. They now have over 3000 members and have innovatively started airing their focus groups and resident consultations live via their Facebook page. This allows them to get a larger much more diverse number of residents involved. According to their Twitter page their last online meeting had 20 participants in the room and another 60 live at home!
Today the average number of internet enabled devices per person in the UK is 3.1 (Google). With the rise of smart-phones and apps almost anyone can make their own videos and images and post them online. Orbit South used this to their advantage and trained a number of their residents to become ‘community reporters’. These residents were trained in video, photography and audio techniques as well as social media skills, allowing them to raise awareness and engagement in their communities (see video). In fact the team were nominated for 2014 TPAS Excellence in Digital Engagement Award.
Resident and Community Blogs
A number of housing associations and councils are now supporting their residents and communities to set up their own blogs and websites specific to an area or location. A good example of this is the Wiltshire Council who supported a number of their resident groups to do this.
The video describes the case of the Tidmouth Army wives whose subsequent engagement in these methods led to better social cohesion, resource sharing and involvement.
Other Social Media Considerations
As has been shown in the above examples, the potential for social media to complement the work of resident and community involvement teams is vast. The digital revolution shows no sign of slowing down so it is likely the opportunities to use social media will increase. Tools like video messaging, VoIP, apps, wearable technology, portals are all likely to increase even more in the coming years. So the preferred platforms will evolve and change. The key takeaway points from groups that have effectively used social media seem to be:
- Use the social media platform or platforms that your target demographics are using
- Set group rules and boundaries
- Empower your tenants to use these platforms themselves
- Read your company’s social media policy and ensure you follow the guidelines
- Be creative and think outside the box!
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