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Housing Cooperatives and Social Media
Cyntheia Pentiuk

Social media is becoming more popular than ever, this presents the question of whether or not your housing cooperative should utilize this forum.  Consider that Americans spend an average of 37 minutes daily on social media, a higher time-spend than any other major Internet activity, including email.¹ Last year nearly 2 billion people worldwide were actively engaged in the use of social media, and it is expected to double in 2017.  By January 2014, Facebook alone had 1.23 billion monthly users active on their website, 600 billion of them logged into their account from their mobile device. ²   Twitters user’s numbered 255 million monthly users in 2013 with over 500 million tweets being sent daily. ³

It’s clear that Social Media has been recognized for the way they have changed how public relations professionals conduct their jobs. They provide an open arena where people are free to exchange ideas on companies, brands, and products.  Over 80 % of social media users in the U.S. prefer to connect with a business on Facebook, and it is reported that Facebook’s local business’ average 645 million views per week.  Social media generates nearly double the marketing leads that come from direct mail advertising, telemarketing and trade shows.⁴  Virtually 46% of web users turn to social media prior to making a purchase. ⁵ More than half of all consumers say the integration of social media makes them more interested in sharing important information, products and services.

With such staggering statistics, the question of whether or not your cooperative should engage in the use of social media is emphatically, YES, of course!   Part of the appeal of the original compilation of the Midwest Association of Housing Cooperatives was to connect with others through a network of like–minded people who, with the help and support of other cooperative members and professionals, would formulate an organization serving to elevate, educate and strengthen the Housing Cooperative movement.  What better way to accomplish this mission than with the massive appeal of social media.

Consider the following applications of Social Media for your Cooperative: 

  • To connect, engage and exchange with other housing cooperatives and cooperative associations nationwide as well as in your own community.
  • To spread the word about the Housing Cooperative movement and the appeal of what this movement represents.
  • To engage with members to offer support and assistance.
  • To promote Cooperative Events (picnics, after school activities, yard sales, community events…).
  • As a means of keeping people informed on day to day Cooperative announcements and important news worthy topics.
  • To provide access for members to the governing documents.
  • To promote your cooperative and attract potential new members.
  • To motivate existing members to engage and become involved in the participation of Cooperative elections and board meetings.
  • Depending on your state laws, you can even utilize it to address important member business and even elections.

The possibilities are endless…  You may want to consider addressing this subject at your Cooperative’s next board meeting.  Your communication should be a consideration of the type of social media forum you will pursue (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube…).  You should also seek to set goals for the cooperative’s social media experience along with projecting a target audience, compiling a mission statement about what your intended influence should be.  Further you will want to address the question of whether or not you will offer customer service, you will want to appoint personnel to oversee social media operations, set guidelines on engagement as well as arrange the implementation and initial set up, and management of your social media endeavor.  Hopefully, this article has encouraged you to at least consider your cooperative’s social media options.  Look for more to come on this subject in the MAHC Messenger, you will want to stay tuned specifically for more information about the legal dos and don’ts of Social Media as well as other topics that further address this subject.

¹ http://www.business2community.com/social-media/social-media-important-business-
² http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter
³ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook#User_profile.2Fpersonal_timeline
⁴http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/18-fresh-stats-about-social-media-marketing
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media