How Housing Associations Can Use Social Media to Engage Communities

Written by

Claire AllcockClaire Allcock


With almost 78% of the UK population now active on social media, you are missing a trick by not focussing on using it to engage with your customers.

But even with all this opportunity, housing associations still need a well-considered and comprehensive strategy to connect with their communities — whilst effectively managing risks.

Proactive Customer Service

With the evolution of the digital age, tenants no longer need to sit down and write a complaints letter to their RLO, or  sit on hold for hours on end trying to reach the contact centre. With most users accessing social media through their phones, people can get in touch with their housing association the minute they need you – meaning that organisations can have conversations on social media in real time, maintaining the momentum and hopefully leaving your tenant with increased satisfaction.

An audience-centred social media customer service strategy ultimately means solving your tenants’ problems on the platform they contacted you on. There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching out to an organisation to be told to call their customer service number: on social we can divert the conversation to the DMs, tackle the issue in hand, and then revert back to the original post to confirm it has been resolved. Don’t forget – above all, social media customer service is a spectator sport, so confirming all your enquiries have been resolved on your profile will improve your reputation with your tenants and audience.

To be truly proactive to your tenants’ and stakeholders’ needs, you should also be actively seeking brand mentions or conversations about your housing association where you aren’t necessarily tagged. Use social listening tools to find these conversations or complaints so that you can solve them, showing you really care about every one of your tenants and the communities they share.

Genuine Community Engagement

There are fewer things more important in life than a person’s home and knowing a housing association genuinely cares makes all the difference. This extends to your social media strategy: have real-time conversations with your community and show your audience the people behind the organisation. This helps to build a real relationship with your customers and community, but showing that its “fantastic people” that make your brand.

Social media users love to see people-first content; and what better way to showcase your brand values than posting content about the people involved in your organisation and communities. For example, Wrekin Housing posted some photos of their recent resident consultation event, highlighting how they engaged their residents offline while engaging their online audiences with these cute puppy snaps.

Solid Crisis Plan

Despite everyone’s best efforts, things sometimes do go wrong. But knowing what to do during that time will ensure your organisation protects its brand reputation throughout the crisis by using social media to your advantage.

An online crisis can be unpredictable, but that shouldn’t mean that you don’t prepare a crisis communications plan beforehand. Establish the roles and responsibilities that each team member will have during the crisis, including who will take ownership of inbound messages, who will chase for information from relevant teams, and what you will include in your responses.

During a crisis, there is nothing wors e than a media blackout from the organisation in the spotlight. Issues can escalate quickly on social media, and people will fill in the blanks with potentially misleading information so don’t be afraid to be upfront with updates, even if there is no new information to share.

Once the dust has settled, take the time to evaluate how the situation played out and what you would change to improve your navigation of the crisis. No one wants to think about a crisis happening to their organisation, but the better prepared you are, the better your chances of maintaining your brand reputation.

With such potential on social media, there’s never been a better time to take another look at your housing association’s strategy for engaging with your communities.


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