It is hard to deny we are now living in the age of social media. This megatrend has transformed the way we communicate, the way we gather information, the way we interact and the way me make decisions. It has changed the thought processes and behaviors of both individuals and businesses around the world – our senior living industry included.
The Game has Changed
For providers of independent living, home care, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing services, today’s social media channels represent new opportunities for connecting with seniors and their adult children in a more personalized, less institutional manner. Many senior living organizations have already grasped the inherent value of social media and have developed robust social marketing strategies to increase their SEO rankings and to boost their prospect contacts, tours, special event attendance, sales and reputations. As a result, many of these “early adopters” have gained a measurable competitive edge in their respective markets.
If you have not yet launched an effective social media presence, it is probably time to give it some serious thought. The game has changed and the world waits for no one.
Tips for Getting You Started
In her article, 10 Steps to Getting Started in Social Media Marketing http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217578, author Susan Gunelius, says, “Like it or not, you need social media to develop and protect your reputation, and to grow your business. When it comes to using social media marketing to build your business, the worst action is no action, and your biggest problem is being invisible, not being talked about negatively. That means you need to get involved on the social Web as soon as possible, not only to capitalize on the opportunities that it presents to your business, but also to develop and protect your reputation.”
As with any traditional marketing endeavor, it’s important to start with a plan that lists your goals and then identifies the social media strategies and tactics to achieve them. For example: Increase visits to our website by 50% – 1. Create a weekly blog to improve our SEO ranking; 2. Launch a Facebook page to connect with residents’ families and friends that promotes sharing information about our community.
For newcomers to social marketing, the article suggests some basic steps to get you started:
- Decide on your goals
What do you want to get out of your social Web participation? Be specific so you can measure results.
- Assess your available resources
You need to have the necessary people in place to execute a social media marketing plan before you start. Who is going to create your content, manage your social media accounts, respond to questions and be the face of your business online?
- Know your customers
Who is your true target audience? Aging seniors? Their adult children? You need to find out what your audience wants and needs, so you can provide the kind of content they find useful and interesting. However, you also need to be personable, so they actually want to interact with you.
- Create useful and compelling content
Once you know what kind of content your audience seeks and how they prefer to receive it, take the time to prepare it well. By continually providing your audience with useful content, you can build a loyal following of people who trust you as a source that meets their needs and expectations.
- Integrate your marketing efforts
Make sure your social media and traditional marketing efforts work together seamlessly and reinforce each other in the marketplace to increase your positive “touches” and enhance your brand equity.
- Create a schedule
Create a schedule and stick to it so consumers know when to look for your posts on a recurring basis.
- Apply the 80 – 20 rule
Spend at least 80 percent of your time on social media activities that are not self-promotional, e.g. relationship building focused, and no more than 20 percent of your time on self-promotional activities.
- Focus on quality followers
It’s better to have 1,000 highly engaged, loyal followers than 10,000 followers who sign up to follow you but then never acknowledge you again.
- Relinquish the power, but act when needed
Allow your audience to take control of the online conversation and make it their own so they develop an emotional attachment to you, your brand, and your business. If you encounter a negative individual, act immediately, but do it in a constructive, helpful manner. Effective “service recovery” can turn lemons into lemonade!
- Keep learning and refining
You can never stop listening and learning. For success in social media marketing, you need to be flexible and accept that change is good.
Implications for Senior Living Providers
A well-conceived social marketing platform, whenintegrated into your overall marketing plan, can have a substantial impact on your business performance, including boosting your reputation as a trusted and transparent provider. If your organization requires additional support to develop a high-performance social marketing strategy, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living space and has the specialized expertise and experience in senior living sales, marketing and operations required to succeed.