Occupancy is down at your senior living community, your email marketing open rates are hitting a new low and no one is showing up to the social events you’re hosting to entice leads and referral sources through the doors. Sound familiar? Then it’s time you start marketing to seniors where they’re willingly hanging out: Facebook.
According to the Pew Research Center’s 2016 Social Media Update, 68 percent of all U.S. adults use Facebook. More surprisingly: 62 percent of seniors use the social media platform.
And like other users, seniors don’t just check in occasionally — seniors use Facebook for many of the same reasons that younger people do: to keep tabs on what’s happening in their immediate communities and the world at large (read: get information), and connect with family and friends (read: engage and share).
What does this mean for senior living marketers and operators? Facebook is your new social media sweet spot, and not just because this is where your target market is hanging out. With all its tools and applications, Facebook may as well have been created specifically to help senior living marketing pros with their top priorities.
1. Showcase senior living as a community, not a facility
One of the biggest challenges in selling senior living services is overcoming the public’s negative perception of this industry. When marketing to seniors and their family members we need to demonstrate that senior living communities are not just sterile facilities — they’re distinct communities that offer a desirable and enriching lifestyle.
What better way to do this than to post photos of your residents engaged in daily community activities? Or introduce key staff members (activity directors, CNAs, dining services staff) through engaging video interviews? Or share a resident’s amazing story you’ve already posted on your company’s blog? Or promote events open to the public on your Facebook wall and calendar? The ideas and opportunities are endless.
Bottom line: you can use Facebook to extend your community’s culture and personality to the public. A Facebook page can give seniors, their family members and healthcare professionals a peek at what actually goes on in your senior living community (and spotlight the wonderful people who live and work there) via visual social content — giving you a chance to put your money where your mouth is when you claim you’re more than a facility.
2. Build and nurture relationships with prospects and customers
Facebook isn’t just a channel for you to pump information into. It’s a channel for you to pump information out of. Facebook is a goldmine of personal information. Where salespeople used to have to mine for quality information on their leads, Facebook delivers it with a click of the mouse.
Simply visit the profile pages of people who engage with your company page and posts, and you can find out their age, their hometown, where they work and what clubs or organizations they belong to. And by monitoring and tracking the activity on your company’s Facebook page, you can assess exactly who your prospects are and find out what information or content interests and delights them, then tailor your message and sales pitch to exactly that.
Facebook also makes it easy for you to interact with your current customers and employees — your best brand ambassadors. Use your Facebook page to retain these loyal customers by keeping them in the loop about your company with frequent posts and updates, and through acknowledging their questions and concerns in real time. By publicly sharing information about your company on Facebook, you increase your credibility and nurture long-term relationships with your customers.
3. Extend your reach
Statistics indicate that the average Facebook user has 338 friends. Considering your biggest referral sources in the senior living business are family, friends and health- and eldercare professionals — and considering many of your prospects are referred to you by word of mouth, not paid advertising — you’d be missing a huge opportunity by not jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. Because Facebook is the new word of mouth.
Post engaging content like photos, videos, shareable links and ads on your business page and watch your reach extend exponentially. Thanks to Facebook’s customized news feed, people who like, comment or share your company’s posts are spreading your content to friends in their Facebook network — aka prospects you haven’t yet been able to reach directly because they don’t know who you are, but may soon become loyal followers if you keep delivering engaging content.
Oh, and one more thing: thanks to your company’s Facebook page, you also become more visible across the internet. Because Facebook makes its content available publicly, search engines like Google and Bing incorporate this data into search results via SEO. This means prospects surfing the web for products and services related to senior living and health care may stumble upon your company’s Facebook page in their search results. A happy coincidence? More like an ingenious, integrated strategy.
All that said, Facebook isn’t magic. Creating a company page won’t do anything for you unless you actively manage it — and we mean actively. With so many users posting and sharing content every second of every day, Facebook is a highly saturated channel. To be heard and seen on Facebook takes an enormous amount of exciting content, a dialed-in strategy and a dedicated marketing team that can keep up with Facebook’s frantic pace.
Not everyone’s up to that challenge. We actually get a thrill from it.