Don’t be creepy
Most of you likely know that I’m a social media proponent. It’s a great tool to connect with friends, family, peers, employees, clients and prospects. I’ve worked it into my day-to-day and proactively look to use it to connect and keep lines of communications open.
Upon returning from vacation, I opened a letter from my community Homeowners Association manager. We live in a community that requires covenants, so once or twice a year all residents get an update from our Homeowner Association (HOA) manager. I was surprised by the content. Full disclosure, I am the former HOA Board president.
First, some background to set the stage. Not long ago, we started a fire pit project in our backyard. Measuring 2 feet in height and 3 feet wide, it is hidden from public view and placed on my stone patio. Because it is not built using mortar, I view it similarly to the kind of fire pits one can purchase at a home improvement store. We were repairing our patio so decided to place one built from dry stacked retainer blocks. Assembly and disassembly take about 10 minutes or so, and frankly, I did not consider it an HOA architectural committee review requirement. Based on the letter I received, I was incorrect and the HOA views this as a “structure.” Ok, my bad.
I have no problem complying with the HOA request to have this item ‘reviewed’ by a committee. However, I did find it a bit creepy to see a photocopy of a Facebook post I did earlier in the Spring. Let me be clear; I am not a Facebook “friend” with this manager and felt somewhat violated that someone would troll my Facebook page. Then I realized that the photo posted was not a public post, but rather a private one. Truth be told, the only way the HOA manager got the photo was from a neighbor who I am “friends with”, or a board member or his/her spouse I am “friends with”. That sounds a bit creepy.
It’s sad that we live in a world where people hide behind social media. If someone thought I should have sought approval, why don’t simply approach me directly? After-all, according to Facebook, we’re “friends” and friends can talk to each other. Instead, using Facebook they took a “we caught ya” approach. As for the HOA Manager, the photo from Facebook should have been used as “evidence” only if I denied the “structural improvement.” Instead, his letter presented the Facebook post in such as way that leads me to believe the HOA and its Board see social media as a tool to gather evidence. It’s ironic that the HOA refuses to have an official HOA Facebook Group for proactive community communication. Instead, they use Facebook as a weapon.
Social media has gone mainstream. Your financial institution most likely uses it in some way or another, hopefully in a proactive, engaging manner that draws you closer to your audience. But remember this; social media does drive transparency but is no substitute for direct engagement such as a phone call, meeting or letter. So if you see an interaction in your FIs Facebook or Twitter feed, don’t hide behind it. Instead, use this as an opportunity to take the ‘conversation’ as step further. What is said and done on social media, may simply not be enough.
So what lesson have I personally learned? For starters, I know that “structure” is a loosely defined term. But more importantly, I know that in my own engagements with colleagues, friends, partners and clients, that social media is simply not enough and no personal engagement substitute. I also learned that some people looking at your badass backyard projects posted on Facebook, may get green with envy and make a needless ruckus instead of approaching you directly.