There has been a lot of conversation recently about apartment companies using social media communication tools, so we wanted to explore how organizations are managing this process and their employees’ actions on these sites.

We started the chat by taking a quick poll to see how many companies have social media policies in place. During the chat, we received 21 votes. Over half of you (11) already have a social media policy in place at your companies, 3 of you don’t have any kind of policy, and 7 of you said your company is currently putting its policy together now. ForRent, Century 21, Property Counselors Management Group, Ellipse and J.C. Hart Communities all shared that they already have policies in place, so you might want to connect with someone from one of those companies if you have questions or are looking for advice.

As for the rest of the discussion, here’s the recap:

What are the most important issues that a social media policy should address?

  • Doug Chasick: Policy is for consistency and guidance – s/b flexible and based on trust – wish I could say common sense but . . . 🙂
  • David Kotowski: In addition to outlining expectations for proper communication w/ customers, I think it should also address personal SM pages.
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: That they are acting on behalf of the company and and will be held accountable.Transparency is good but don’t share corp. info.
  • Sue Burness: We are seeing examples here of poor judgment with posts & inappropriate dress. And then owners want to shut all Social Media down.
  • Brandon Hammond: We’ve included a committment to learning and improving usage as a part of our company’s SM policy.
  • Gillian Luce: How bout ‘the opinions expressed on site are my own & do not nec represent those of [comp name]’ per @theaptnerd SM Policy?
  • Zachary Kestenbaum: Policy: I) what do you hope to gain, II) what are you afraid of – both are important.
  • Eva Panagiotopoulos: Strict policies block personal connectivity. Like we said, it’s common sense and there must be trust.
  • Social Web Strategies: Top issues for SM policy (not prioritized): legal, training, web/sm presence, listening.
  • Doug Chasick: Boundaries and guidelines, training and consequences and monitoring are best we can do IMHO.
  • Mark Juleen: The best written policy in the world cannot prevent people from posting what they want.
  • Brandon Hammond: Coaching is absolutely important. The truth is that the VAST majority of workers in our industry are very new to SM.
  • Social Web Strategy: The policy that’s missing is from the c-suite for the whole org. That takes clear view of SM impact on each part of the org.
  • Social Web Strategy: SM policy has to give framework for the org to handle integration of SM tech by every dept and division. SM tech will flow into ops.
  • Chris Schmeid: Our policy isn’t about loss of productivity, it’s about protecting the brand.
  • DiChristy: Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy and your co’s confidential info.

Is your organization’s social media policy focused more on DOs or DON’Ts? Tell us about it.

  • Jonathan Saar: Some companies are creating such vast rules that the staff are on pins and needles.
  • Jonathan Saar: Do’s … lots of experimenting and measuring still to do.
  • Ryan VanDenabeele: It’s open as SM should be to actively engage. But we don’t want people acting like drunken sailors either. Accountablity.
  • Eva Panagiotopoulos: Both 🙂 I think the DOs help sustain a positive outlook on how social media can be beneficial. DO make friends and listen to others.
  • Brandon Hammond: “Policy” probably addresses more DON’Ts, “Strategy” would address more DOs.
  • Doug Chasick: Train to the “Do’s” and most “Don’ts” never show up.
  • Brandon Hammond: Policy should definitely encourage smart, constructive use! Encouragement to add value to convo!

Are there social media issues specific to the apartment industry that your policy addresses (or should address)?

  • Heather Blume: Resident privacy.
  • Doug Chasick: Fair housing, libel, slander, copyright infringement and really bad profile pix.
  • Ellen Thompson: people are very cavalier about violating copyright laws with use of images, in particular.
  • David Kotowski: Management changes are a MUCH bigger deal than you think. NEVER, EVER talk about them until after they actually happen.
  • Brandon Hammond: Good place to start is thinking a/b most SM posts as marketing messages, and treating them as such re: FH (Fair Housing).
  • Mike Whaling: I think the exact problem is that most SocMed posts are treated as marketing messages.

Who is driving the social media conversation in your organization? Marketing? PR? HR? Customer service? Who should?

We’ll leave the poll open, so feel free to contribute to the survey:

Here’s the breakdown of all the responses we’ve received to date:

Additional Resources:

Does your company have a social media policy? If yes, what does it focus on? Is it working? If not, do you think you need one? What other questions or comments do you have about social media policies? Let us know if the comments!

(This week’s chat had 408 tweets from 64 different contributors.)