Social Media in Strata

Tuesday May 8th, 2018

Last month I wrote an article about the strata manager and client experiences: Then (the 80’s and 90’s) v. Now. What’s changed? Here’s part of the answer:

“What has changed is how that unhappy 10% (of residents) communicates their unhappiness: Much faster and much nastier. Faster due to email, nastier because social media has given folks the ability to broadcast every little thought they have – smart, dumb, nuts, nasty or psycho – immediately and virtually without repercussion (especially if they can remain anonymous)…” This “communication in a vacuum” (all “send” and no “receive”) without thought or care to its effect on the human being(s) on the other end is now part and parcel of our society…” (Read the whole article here).

After reading the article, a strata manager called me to relay a social media-induced horror story. One of their strata communities created a Facebook account, which one of the Committee members was assigned to “manage.” Two critical omissions: (1) No social media policies were adopted by the Committee, and it (2) appears the page “manager” forgot to engage (or didn’t know they existed) administrative protocols. The resulting damage from these omissions: One of the residents in the community decided to use that Facebook page to go after the onsite manager. Things escalated very quickly and the manager ended up fearing for her physical safety.

An isolated incident? I don’t think so. In our current atmosphere of perpetual outrage and offense, social media is often not helpful; it can not only fuel anger, it gives that anger a very public stage (if you don’t believe me, spend some time on Twitter). These occurrences aren’t going to go away, slow down or get less nasty. What are we in management doing to address these issues proactively? Granted, there’s a lot of general information out there about Body Corporate and how they should approach their social media policies what I don’t see is discussion on management company policies having to do with their clients’ usage of social platforms. Perhaps it’s time we add language to our contracts regarding client usage of social media and the responsibility and liability thereof, not only to protect our staff, but as a part of risk-management for the clients when they are solely responsible for their social media.

Here’s some language I’ve been thinking about – not to be used verbatim in a contract, but more as a way to get the industry discussion started:

Client usage of social media

  • The Body Corporate is solely responsible for creation and maintenance of their social media accounts, including but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Nextdoor, or any blogs or blog-like platforms, etc.
  • The Body Corporate agrees to adopt and publish policy(ies) regarding posts and comments on their social media accounts. These policies shall include, but not be limited to, disallowing posts and comments with regard to anyone employed by the management company or the company itself, that are defamatory, derogatory, slanderous (as in video), sexist, racist, those having to do with sexual orientation, threats of any kind or any other type of post or comment that can be reasonably construed to create a hostile work environment. The Body Corporate shall immediately remove any and all comments or posts that meet these criteria, or can be reasonably construed to meet these criteria. The policy(ies) shall also include means of enforcement, including banning offenders from commenting or posting, as well as imposing monetary fines (if applicable).
  • The Body Corporate social media manager is to learn, set and follow appropriate administrative protocols that do not allow anyone other than the social media manager to make original posts.
  • The Body Corporate agrees to regularly monitor (every (24) / (48) hours) all social media accounts.
  • The Body Corporate shall assume all liability from any actions stemming from its social media, including any and all posts, comments, pictures, video, etc.

You think having specific language is harsh, or will put your company at a competitive disadvantage? Perhaps, but not if you use this as a tool to make your clients aware of the risk-management aspect of having and properly maintaining their social media accounts.

This is a huge subject with a lot of doors and windows, and it begs many questions: What happens if a Body Corporate doesn’t want to implement social media policies? Do we drop the client? Implement monetary penalties? What if the client is openly negligent in monitoring the social media? What if we are negligent in monitoring the client? Should the client be compelled to provide private security for staff who feel threatened due issues stemming from its social media? How about restraining orders? Is our company actually part of the problem? Do we truly have the legal or moral duty to act? I don’t have the answers, because every time I think I do, another “what if?” pops up. As management experts, we need to get in front of this curve and not be our typical, reactive selves.

Let me be clear on this: Overall, I believe social media, when well-managed, is an excellent communication tool to get a lot of information out to residents very quickly and is actually under-utilized by Bodies Corporate and management companies. That said, the bottom line is: We have an obligation to ensure 1) our line staff, as well as our company brand, doesn’t suffer due to lax social media management on the part of our clients, 2) the clients are thoughtfully advised on the types of policies they should adopt and the reasons thereof; and 3) there are consequences to the client for failing to supervise and regulate their social media accounts.

Look for more on this subject in the coming months – and I look forward to your joining this conversation. Your thoughts?

This article was contributed by Julie Adamen of Adamen Inc.