Group or Mass Texting features have existed for a while, but the service hasn't always been popular. Many people recall a 2018 news story about residents in Hawaii getting a false Emergency Alert Text that showed just how integral this service is but also how important it is to get it right.
There are plenty of single-service providers out there who offer a group text platform, but if you're interested in using this technology for your community, talk to your community manager to see if your community management software offers texting capabilities. It's also important to discuss any state and local laws that may affect how group texting can be used for your association.
Once you clear all legal questions, be sure to take these three items into consideration as you plan your group texting rollout.
Group Texting: Not Just for the Kids?
Depending on the average age of your residents, the ins and outs of mass group texting may or may not already be on their radar. If your community association caters to GenX or younger, you'll have less resistance and fewer problems with your rollout and opt-ins. If your demographics skew older, however, you could face some roadblocks.
Although there are exceptions to every rule, Baby Boomers tend to be the most formal in the way they communicate, and they expect the same level of formality in return:
Although many have accounts on Facebook, they tend to view it as a place to connect with friends and family and not an appropriate place for work-related or other important conversations. A phone call is usually preferred over a text message.
In cases of emergencies or public health crises, such as we've seen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one-on-one phone calls for updates and alerts are simply not practical. The good news is that if residents can first be shown the practical value of mass group texting, they're far more likely to opt-in when the time comes.
A Multi-Pronged Approach
You've heard about not putting all your eggs in one basket? The same goes for communication. Though group texting is quick and efficient, it should not serve as your sole communication method.
Though community association texting can prove a definite asset, it cannot stand alone. Many HOA experts recommend a multi-pronged approach, including e-mail, text, and social media.
- Some people check social media on laptops more often than they look at their phones.
- Others have smartphones but eschew social media.
People are individuals, and communities all have their own collective personalities. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. You have to find the communication cocktail that works best for you and your residents. The best approach to reaching as many people as we can with important community updates will always be through leveraging multiple communication streams simultaneously.
What Warrants a Group Text?
Even if you do decide to institute broadcast texting as part of your HOA communication plan, it is not necessary to roll out the group text feature for every little announcement. In order to be deemed text-worthy, it should pass a few qualifying questions.
- Is this urgent?
- Is there a timeline/deadline for residents to take action?
- Are there consequences if residents miss this announcement?
Announcements that tend to pass muster and warrant a group text could include items such as the following:
- Reminders for important meetings
- Inclement weather notifications
- Updates on HOA regulations
- Public health alerts
When engaging in community texting to benefit the whole group, always be sure to guard against abuse or overuse of the system. Sending too many alerts without sufficient justification will lead residents to downplay or disregard future alerts, thereby weakening their effectiveness.