Social media has a lot to answer for. It has done many, many amazing things – helped people to reconnect, raised money (remember the ALS ice bucket challenge a few years back?) and helped businesses get off the ground. However, it has also caused many issues.
In previous times, if you lived in strata accommodation, if you had a problem you would need to talk to whoever you had the issue with, whether that is another resident, a caretaker, contractors or the building management company directly, whether that was face to face or via a telephone call.
These days, people jump immediately onto social media.
Social media has given people the opportunity to express their every action, thought and opinion, often without repercussion if they do it anonymously. Of course, that is not always a bad thing, but when it is important to have a sense of community, as it is with strata living, this can cause huge problems.
Instead of discussing problems and coming to a resolution calmly and privately, people air their issues on social media without a second thought, and it soon becomes wider public knowledge. People have ended up having to move cities and have their jobs, families, relationships and whole livelihoods destroyed because of rumours or issues hashed out across social media rather than face to face.
Of course, social media is not going to be going away anytime soon, and what Strata management companies need to do is find ways of dealing with such issues and preventing them from getting to a point where peoples careers and lives are ruined because of a Facebook or a Twitter post.
One way of doing this is by building a social media policy into your contracts and terms and conditions. It won’t completely eradicate the problem, of course, but it may make people think twice about heading online to complain about particular issues. Schools and workplaces build into their policies; if students or employees are found to be bullying, complaining or making inflammatory comments about their school, workplace or colleagues on social media, they can face disciplinary action. There is no reason why you can’t implement it into your contracts. This will not only protect your reputation and your staff but your clients, too.
Obviously, you need to make sure that your contract and social media policies would stand up in a court of law, which is where competent strata lawyers come into play. They will know exactly what you can do to remain compliant with the law while protecting yourself, and should you have to take legal action against a resident, they will be able to advise you of the correct procedures and processes that need to be followed and represent you in court.
Social media is not inherently a bad thing when it comes to strata living. Used wisely, it can be an excellent way of creating a friendly and engaged community. However, it is important to realise that there is a darker side to it, and protecting yourself against it is essential.