Kevin AtkinsonWhen we hear the word "community" today, we might think of our alumni networks, blogs, forums and social networks.
Community refers to a social group of individuals with something in common. Today, these types of relationships are almost always associated with the Internet. It seems we have lost sight of the fact that face-to-face, real-time experiences are the strongest building blocks of a positive community.
Over my career, I have had the opportunity to work on many sides of our industry, including working as the director of marketing and leasing for The Scion Group, presiding over RIZE LLC, a strategic network that connected student housing property owners to brand sponsorships, and my current position as a partner and senior vice president of business development at Cuttle, Inc.
Cuttle is a unique company. We provide a digital community board that residents contribute to. While we do offer online and mobile marketing solutions, we've learned through experience that community boards, which are large HD screens strategically placed in the midst of a property's heavy-traffic areas, bring together students in real time with support from digital community-building capabilities. In essence, they utilize the best of both worlds when it comes to creating a hip but friendly atmosphere at a student housing property.
Students can share photos, post items for sale or trade, create invitations to events, ask fellow residents to join them for a video game session, or anything else worth sharing with their neighbors. But they can do so in a social manner that doesn't require hiding behind their laptops, smart phones or iPads.
The community boards help residents break the ice and project the image that a property is a fun, secure and engaging place to live, whether for future or current residents.
Students living away from home for the first time are searching for where they belong. When students hear "community" and "digital" in the same sentence, they expect to see more Facebook style networks, where the experience is limited to being online behind your computer screen.
When they tour a property featuring a community board, students are surprised to see a higher level of care from management for what they find important – a real world social scene. They are excited to get involved because they can meet people with the same interests right where they live. They can be social, face-to-face.
As a resident, it makes it easier to break the ice with neighbors by posting suggested activities and by sharing what you're passionate about with your building. Management can do the same, adding their own voice to the conversation via the community boards. At the end of the day, we're all building the college living experience together.
For more information on Cuttle, visit www.cuttle.com.
— Kevin Atkinson is a partner and senior vice president of Cuttle Inc.