A social media initiative created to demystify shared ownership has clocked up over 18,000 tweets with a combined audience of over 27 million people as it marks its first-year anniversary this week.  

The @SOChatHour Twitter Q&A sees a different representative from across the housing sector discuss the merits of shared ownership each week – explaining their own experience of the product and giving their views on common challenges associated with it.

So far, 42 experts have led Q&A sessions including national and regional housing associations, property consultants JLL and Savills, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation. Topics have included staircasing and resales, branding, the customer journey and collaboration in the industry.

The award-winning shared ownership team at Aster Group developed the Twitter forum alongside marketing firm Resource  with the aim of aligning how the sector talks about shared ownership. This was a challenge identified in Aster’s recent Another Way Part Two: Helping Shared Ownership Thrive research report, which said the public is confused about shared ownership because providers talk about it differently.

Aster, which owns and manages 30,000 homes across the south of England, currently has 2,249 shared ownership properties in its portfolio. It aims for shared ownership to represent a third of its £2bn development pipeline and has previously called for more to be done by government and the social housing sector to market the housing option.

Amy Nettleton, assistant development director – sales and marketing at Aster Group and chair of the National Housing Group, said: “The important role shared ownership plays in giving people access to secure and affordable housing is increasingly apparent. It takes the best from ownership and renting and is flexible to people’s means.

“Now that the government has launched its consultation into Private Shared Ownership it’s even more vital that the entire housing sector talks about it in terms that customers understand and provide some consistency.

#SOChatHour is designed to do this by changing the industry’s thinking around how we talk about shared ownership and its success is evidence of the growing interest in the tenure from across the housing sector. As we look to year two, we’ll be expanding the initiative and getting even more colleagues and customers involved in the discussion.”

Tim Seward, director of sales at Clarion, said: “Shared ownership chat hour is a fantastic channel for all things shared ownership. We're passionate about it and the weekly forum allows for open debate, questions, solutions and innovations.”

Aster’s latest research report on shared ownership, Another Way Part Two: Helping Shared Ownership Thrive, was released in September and found that more than half of 200 shared ownership customers (52%) weren’t aware that they can move between shared ownership properties. The research revealed that only 14% had received information about shared ownership from the government, with half relying on housing associations.