When community leadership wants to communicate directly with residents, they often turn to social media platforms and websites. Many HOA and community organizations host pages on Facebook, and most have their own dedicated websites. The challenge, though, is helping residents work through those platforms to find the information they need, when they need it.
One quick check-in on Facebook can easily turn into a rabbit-hole exploring adventure that ends hours later, with little regard for the original intent of the user. And, although a branded website has more specific and direct information, research shows that fewer and fewer people are accessing websites through their mobile devices, while apps and social media use is on the rise.
Dan Mattock, a Broadlands HOA technology committee member, calls this the “noise” of social media. When Mattock, and others on the committee, were charged with enhancing communication across the community, they knew they wanted to look at a mobile app. “We loved the idea of a mobile app, given its ability to cut through all the noise and busyness of social media,” Mattock says.
Another benefit for Broadlands, a 3,800 resident community located in northern Virginia, is that residents only receive the information they want through the mobile app. Mattock notes that the app has allowed them to create “push notifications” with specific “tags,” so that those who need information get it, and those that don’t aren’t being overwhelmed with announcements. For instance, residents can opt in or out of notifications like “pool alerts” and “community events.”
Broadlands residents can use the app to quickly and easily find information about community announcements, the neighborhood calendar, design guidelines, newsletters, useful numbers, and access a digital pool pass.
When searching for an app builder, Mattock’s committee sent out RFPs to a number of providers, and ranked those proposals based on price, experience, technical support, and other factors. “The mobile app provider we chose to develop our mobile app is a company called MokoApp,” says Mattock. “They specialize in building mobile apps for member-oriented organizations. They have been great to work with and were well below the cost of the other proposals we received.”
So far, the app seems to be working. An analytics sampling across a recent week recorded over a thousand users, and over 20,000 screen views. “It seems to be doing exactly what we wanted it to do,” says Mattock. “We are communicating clearly and directly with our members.”
By Sarah Gerstein, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM
Sarah is the general manager of Broadlands Association Inc. She has been engaged in the management of community associations as a portfolio manager for some of the area’s top management companies since 2000 before transitioning to site management in June 2012. Sarah has been active in the Chapter since 2004 and volunteered on various committees during that time.