Senior Living Social Marketing: How to Use Ratings and Reviews to Build Your Brand and Grow Your Business

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Jun 13, 2013 | Social Media & Online

Think about it. What could be better — and more gratifying — than having your customers and their families singing your praises in a public forum? Marketing experts agree that independent, objective, “third party” endorsements are among the most powerful and relevant forms of marketing content available.

Public praise by your customers is not a given by any means. It is usually earned through a customer-centric vision, efficient operating systems, effective communications and hiring the right people to engage the people you serve. Because public plaudits do not come easily or cheaply, it is critical to achieve the maximum return on the investment you’ve made in making your community a high-quality one. But are you taking the steps to achieve the best return?

In her recent article, How to Integrate Ratings and Reviews into Your Social Media Programs, Shoma Sarkar discusses the importance of optimizing positive reviews about your community. Ms. Sarker cites the statistic that, “Some 70% of Americans say they look at reviews before taking the next step to conversion (making the actual purchase).”

This finding increasingly applies to shoppers for senior living services, as they are frequently the more tech savvy adult children of their aging parents. Beyond the multitude of consumer review forums available today, it was recently announced that Seniorhomes.com has launched a first-of-its-kind, numerical rating system for senior living communities.

Discover the Power of Social Networks

Ms. Sarker correctly points out the fact that, “Many marketers have realized the power of ratings and reviews to drive sales from their websites, but few have extended such user-generated content across their social marketing programs.” This is short sighted and self limiting because positive ratings and user reviews are highly valuable content that can be expanded across numerous social networks. To take full advantage of the value of ratings and reviews, senior living marketers should regularly utilize positive customer comments in their social marketing programs, including Facebook, Blogs and LinkedIn.

Get the Most Out of Your Positive Review Comments

You can capture and integrate consumer reviews and ratings into your strategic messaging for positive results very easily.

Make Social Networks a Routine Part of Your Marketing Communications Strategy

Identify your ratings, review comments and incorporate them into your social media marketing plans. Positive reviews can become an influential part of the public conversation, and help you to increase brand equity and boost sales.

Use Service Recovery Techniques to Turn “Lemons into Lemonade”

Fortunately, the majority of reviews are positive. However, customers express legitimate complaints or concerns periodically. When you identify a negative public comment, it is vital to respond quickly and engage the unhappy customer. Never ignore it in the hope that it will just go away.

With the right “service recovery” response, negative customer interactions can be turned into positive customer service experiences. No organization is perfect! It is how we deal with disappointing experiences that differentiate the top-performing organizations from others in the competitive marketplace.

In her article, Ms. Sarkar says it may be advisable to select a few less-than-stellar reviews to share on Twitter, Facebook or another social network, highlighting how you fixed the problem and thanking the customer for the honest feedback. The goal, she says, is to use reviews to engage customers in an honest, two-way dialogue that keeps them coming back, so don’t automatically discount every negative review.

Be Sure to Monitor and Measure Impact

Once you’ve expanded the reach of your communications through social networks, be sure to assess the impact on consumer engagement and sales activity over time. If you’re using public reviews in both social content and paid ads, you can measure which tactics create the greatest impact and sharpen your focus and investment accordingly.

Implications for Senior Living Providers

Positive reviews by your customers are an invaluable business asset and should be managed and leveraged accordingly. Treat your customers’ favorable testimonials like gold and be sure to use them to their fullest extent. Make sure you’re using all communications tools at your disposal — including all of today’s relevant social networks.

As Ms. Sarkar reiterates in her article, “When your customers say great things about your products or services, amplify that praise as much as possible to gain maximum impact.”

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