Last week I celebrated my first birthday since being heavily engaged in social networking and what an amazing experience it was! I have vivid memories of my 30th driving up I-95 to Florence, SC where no one knew I was quietly celebrating and “Happy Birthday” was not as easy to page as “hello.” (For those of you too young to remember, we had pagers and built “pager- speak” similar to the LOL’s of todays texting minus the use of letters.) Hello was 07734 upside down, it seems more like hieroglyphics today.
Fast forward to 2010 where I am on the tradeshow floor at the Alabama State Tradeshow, again quietly celebrating with a crowd of people, some very good friends others new freinds who were not aware of the special day. Now you may think the friends were not so good if they did not remember my birthday, but who could keep track of all of their 400+ friends birthday in their head without the helpful reminders set in the land of social networking?
Back to the tradeshow floor where my blackberry began to flash yellow indicating a low battery after a full charge the night before. By the looks of the inbox count, someone had either died or one of my children went to the hospital- how else could I get 100 messages in a matter of hours? My skipped heartbeat turned to joy and surprise to see an inbox of birthday wishes from what seemed to be everyone I have ever known.
The following day on my drive back to Atlanta, it hit me how this experience translated into our efforts to connect with our residents and how simple it is. The conversations we have on Facebook are those that years ago were reserved for a small group of our closest friends and relatives that kept track of our annual events and celebrations. It may still be possible to connect with residents in this manner for a community of 100 homes with low turn over and a manger that has been there for years. The average community with 250 units, move-ins, move-outs, reports, scheduled maintenance and the like would find it impossible to keep track of daily, monthly or annual happenings of the residents.
So, those properties stuck on how to start engaging residents and building a social network need not fear. Look at it as a new opportunity to connect residents, the management team, and the friends of both by a few comments here and there that let fans and friends know you are interested in their lives. Learn what they are doing from their comments. Post regularly or you could miss a golden opportunity (and that’s not to imply that my birthday was one you would associate with golden.) Add content that is relevant to your residents’ lifestyle. It is an opportunity that was nearly impossible just a few years ago and will allow you to connect more fully than ever before.