Becker & Poliakoff

Involved Versus Committed: Does My Community Association Need a Social Media Policy?

Involved Versus Committed: Does My Community Association Need a Social Media Policy?

Across the green from Becker’s Morristown office is a delightful restaurant named “The Committed Pig.” When you walk in the door, a sign on the wall explains the restaurant’s interesting moniker:

  • the best way to describe the difference between involvement and commitment is “bacon & eggs”
    the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed

Like the chicken and the pig, community associations can either be involved or committed when it comes to utilizing social media. However, an association takes a risk when it is just involved with social media as a passive participant. If an association is determined to protect itself from the potential pitfalls and legal risks of using social media, it must be committed.

Social media can encompass a multitude of online activities, including hosting websites or blogs, or using well-known platforms like, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), or Nextdoor. To some extent, all forms of social media have the ability to facilitate communication between an association and its members, provide real-time updates, and offer the ability for members to contact the board or management to report any issues. Conversely, such communication can also open the door for abuses such as cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, or defamation.

Association board members have a fiduciary relationship with both the association and its members. That fiduciary relationship requires adherence to and compliance with the association’s governing documents and the law, and each board member must act in good faith to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the entire community. Adopting a clear, comprehensive social media policy allows an association board to fulfill that fiduciary responsibility as well as to control and monitor online content, minimize abusive practices, and – most importantly – protect the association from potential liability. With that backdrop, here are some best practices for associations who are committed to using social media:

  1. Have a Plan – Before jumping headfirst into social media, an association board needs to agree on the association’s goals for using any social media platform. Is the goal to disseminate information? Are we creating an avenue for members to contact the board or management? It may be useful to first survey the members to determine how they would like to receive information and/or interact with the board and management. In some cases, a password-protected website with access to necessary documents may work best. In other situations, a private Facebook group may be preferable. Thoughtful consideration should be given to what the association wants to achieve through its use of social media before creating an online presence.
  2. Protect / Promote the Association’s Reputation – A good social media policy will set parameters and spell out what is appropriate for associations to post / disseminate. The policy should have clear guidelines to help members understand ways they can use social media to achieve the association’s goals. However, when it comes to individual social media use by members (or board members), controlling what may be posted can be next to impossible. In particular, board members who post on social media need to understand that online comments might be construed as representing the board’s position or undermining previous decisions. Board members posting on social media should be reminded of their fiduciary duty to the association and, for those associations with a confidentiality agreement/code of conduct, requirements regarding social media should be added to those documents.
  3. Control / Moderate / Limit Content – Information published on either an association website or other forms of association-related social media should be open only to members, monitored / controlled by the board, and, to the extent possible, limited in scope. Content should be reviewed for grammar, tone, and to guard against privacy concerns (for example, meeting minutes, budget and financial information, or personally identifiable information (“PII”) should not be available or accessible to the public).Content should benefit the community but be careful not to create an opportunity for the members to air grievances about the association, the board, management, or their neighbors. While a moderated “bulletin board” may be beneficial, the information posted must flow through a designated moderator(s) who can reject questionable, offensive, or possibly unlawful material. In addition, the association should require that every member who wants to post on the association’s social media agree to an Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”), which would require (among other things) that: (1) the posting of defamatory, obscene, harassing, discriminatory, or otherwise unlawful material and/or comments is prohibited; and (2) the association reserves the right to remove any posts that it deems to violate the AUP and/or reserves the right to restrict/terminate access to any person who does not abide by the posting policy.
  1. Engage the Community – If a board is prepared to take on the risks that social media presents, the association should do its best to reap the benefits that come with a positive social media presence. Engagement of the community requires both consistency in posting and variety of content. Content should be aimed to engage members with information that matters to them at regular intervals. Along with a strong blend of administrative information (meeting dates and times, rule and policy updates, etc.), the association should attempt to add other information (community projects, member spotlights, and local events).

Use of social media is fraught with risk for associations and its members. However, when utilized correctly, it can be an effective communication tool, and a thorough social media policy can ameliorate some of those risks and attempt to minimize abusive practices. As always, before entering the social media world, associations should consult with both legal counsel and its insurance professionals to discuss possible cyber-liability insurance.

So, when it comes to social media, are you just involved or are you committed?

Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from a longer article originally published in June 2020 in Community Trends. You can read the original article here: