Communication is key to an effective web presence - an interview with Jim Milsom

Website & Technology August 23, 2007

Lori Halley

By Lori Halley
Jim Milsom, Unit Owner
About Riverplace One Hundred
Riverplace One Hundred is a Condominium Association, made up of 117 unit owners. About 60% of the owners actually live in other states and their Florida condo is a part time residence in the winter. So staying in touch with residents throughout the year is not trivial.

1. What prompted Riverplace One Hundred to create a web site?

In a word: Communication. Many unit owners are not on the property year round and many can not attend all the budget committee, rules committee and board meetings. Without communication, rumors start.

2. Riverplace One Hundred has been using the web for communicating and staying in touch with its residents, what do you think the opportunities are for your association to extend its impact embracing new web tools (e.g. web2.0 Social media, Facebook, etc.)

Many of our residents haven't embraced technology yet and those who have, have done so to the limited extent of web browsing and email. I wouldn't expect social interaction tools/websites to be of much interest.

3. Did you try discussion forums, blogs, online chats, anything else? How effective were these tools in reaching out to your audience and how hard it was to keep it going?

Our previous web site did employ discussion forums, chats, etc. Although I tried to "prime the pump", there were no takers.

4. What tools do you use to attract and engage your members? What worked well?

Unfortunately, about 40% of our unit owners do not own computers. However, we have tried to leverage "information" as the enticement to get unit owners to register and continually visit the web site. We've also incorporated online forms where people can request information and file maintenance issues. Also there are pages for weather links, items for sale, etc.

5. How often do you update your website?

About once a month. With hurricane season here, that may be more often. Owners that are up north will be looking to the web site for weather links, status of preparations, damage assessments, etc.

6. What takes up the most time in managing and administering your association?

Gathering the information from various sources within the association.

7. What do your members tell you they want the most from you regarding your website and online tools?

They most often ask for more information to be posted about the status of known issues… when will the elevator replacement start, details of window replacements, budget committee reports, etc.

8. Why do you think associations struggle with online marketing?

I would think a lot has to do with having site content that is engaging.

9. What do you think is the most critical marketing concept/principle that we could apply towards successful community building?

Probably conveying to the constituent that this community is interesting and useful to them.

10. What are the biggest pains and frustrations regarding technology you have experienced as your association has been growing and evolving?

People feel technically challenged.

11. What web tools have you found of most use and how do they save you time or help in other ways

Hosted web sites, of course! I've also made use of hosted forms web sites.

12. In your opinion, what are some general ways associations can improve their web presence? What are the five most important things to consider?

  1. Interesting/Useful content
  2. Keep your visitors coming back by posting new content on a regular basis
  3. Get the user community engaged in creating that content
  4. Make the site clean to look at
  5. Keep it simple to use

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