5 Tips for Effective Social Media Use and Website Creation by Your Community Association

Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn—it is hard to imagine our world, as it exists today, without these popular social media sites. All over the world, users of these sites can stay connected and share information quickly and conveniently, from almost any place, at any time. Clearly, these qualities make the sites appealing to community association managers and directors, who need to convey important information to owners and who may even want to invite owner participation in their communities. Some associations find that creating an association website, instead of or in addition to a social media site, allows for an easy way to make information readily available to its membership. But while websites and social media are helpful tools that facilitate information sharing and communication, community associations should be aware of the pitfalls that may create problems or expose the association to liability. Below are five tips to assist your community association in avoiding these potential pitfalls:

1. Create a Social Media Policy

Community associations should adopt a policy providing rules and regulations outlining the terms of use for association-related social media. The policy should specify who can view or post on the association’s site. The association’s board of directors should decide if it wants to limit site access to owners only, or, if the community has a large number of tenants, it may make sense to make the site available to all residents in the community. Also, the association should clarify what kinds of posts are allowed and prohibited. For instance, the association’s policy should prohibit defamatory, abusive or profane comments from being posted on the site and state that the Board has the authority to remove any such posts from the site or terminate the user’s access to the site, if a log-in or other form of authentication is required for access. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are key provisions that should be included in any such policy. Note that any adopted social media policy should be made available to all owners.

2. Check Insurance Coverage

What happens if an owner, director or managing agent posts confidential information or an offensive or defamatory comment on the association’s website or social media site? A community association using social media outlets should check its insurance policies to confirm that it has adequate coverage should it be exposed to liability. Specifically, it should review its directors and officers and errors and omissions policies to determine whether it has coverage for claims related to social media use and contact its insurance agent to obtain additional coverage, if necessary.

3. Closed Association Website

Associations should consider creating websites or social media sites that are “one-way,” meaning only the association, its managing agent or other designated individuals may post information or comments to the site. The association’s website would still be of value by providing owners with easy access to the association’s governing documents, resolutions, architectural guidelines, dates of community events, meeting dates, etc. While this option may limit community building and outreach, it certainly lessens the association’s exposure to liability.

4. Disclaimer

To help avoid any claims against the association for defamation or copyright and trademark infringement, any community association social media site or website that allows users to post comments should include a disclaimer that user comments do not represent the opinions of the association.

5. Monitoring of Posts

On a social media site or association-specific website that provides users the ability to comment, the association should designate one or more individuals who are responsible for continually monitoring the content of the site and create a procedure for addressing any improper content. Again, the association’s social media policy should include language authorizing the Board to remove prohibited comments from the site.

Article provided by Coulter & Sierra