Tuesday, 16 June 2009

How can social media be used to communicate with residents?

I heard a presentation from Paul Fox from Neighbo this morning at the CIH conference in Harrogate. He spoke about how social media can be used to build communities (on and off-line) and help people communicate with their neighbours and their social or private landlord.

As a passionate user of social media, this is something i've been mulling over for a while. I think the opportunity for housing associations to use social media to improve their residents' quality of life is huge.

Some of the benefits that Paul has found:

  • Being able to consult directly, quickly, cheaply and easily with residents

  • Letting residents know about problems

  • Checking whether residents are happy with work their service/quality of work

  • Making it easier for residents to get to know their neighbours and build friendships

  • Halting/minimising anti-social behaviour by empowering the silent majority

  • Allowing residents who work/can't spare the time/have no inclination to contribute through traditional methods to have a voice

Paul has found that decision-makers (landlords) can be resistant because they can't see its value and are concerned about excluding those who already engage. A couple of challenges that I would also anticipate are:

  • Digital exclusion - how can we ensure that everyone has equal access to communicating with us through social media? (And that's a whole Digital Britain can of worms)

  • Investment - I've got to make the case for social media and customer communication to my colleagues, so cost and, more importantly, value for money will be key

One of Paul's key points was that social media should be used as a supplement rather than a replacement for existing communication channels. This is something I definitely agree with.

I believe social media has the power to make a real difference to tenants and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.


  1. Oh - and i should have said if you want to follow Neighbo on Twitter, they are @neighbo. But you probably could have guessed that.

  2. Kate

    Great blog post. I've been using and working with Neighbo for the last 2 or 3 years now.

    It is a fantastic tool, and in the 21st century I think it is vital tool to Managing Agents like my firm PHC Management Limited in the private sector, but also applies to RSLs.

    It is not, as you recognise, as replacement to traditional communication techniques, but does provide not only a quick and simple method of communication with tenants, residents and communities, but also a repository of information for reference.

    I have also found it works very well as a committee management tool. Where specific issues can be discussed in a forum without the need to consult with the wider community. Issues can be discussed, resolutions made without the need to call lengthy and/or unecessary meetings.

    I could bore you for hours on this subject but more than happy to share my experiences with you.

    Mark Postle-Hacon
    Managing Director
    PHC Management Limited


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