Operations Best Practices

How to Utilize Social Media for Senior Living Communities

August 23, 2021

Social media is an essential marketing tool for any business, and senior living communities are no exception. Your community’s life enrichment team works hard to provide positive resident experiences with activities and events that would all make fantastic content for social media! Showcasing your life enrichment program is an excellent way to attract prospects. Studies show that as many as 71.5% of older adults plan to move to a senior living community for more social contact and activities, so it’s important to advertise this aspect of your community!

Your target audience is already online — research shows that older adults are steadily becoming more active on social media. You just need a way to connect with them! Whether you’re looking to improve your online presence, or build it from the ground up, here are some tips to keep in mind while creating your social media strategy for your senior living community.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing for Senior Living Communities

You’ve likely already heard that social media marketing can help you reach your target audience, generate leads, and ultimately drive occupancy in your communities. But here are a few more benefits to promoting your senior living community through social media:

  • Keep up with the competition — more and more senior communities are getting online. Having a social media presence will help legitimize your business and show that you stay current with industry trends.
  • Connect with families — family members want to know that their loved ones are safe, happy, and living life to the fullest. Sharing photos and videos of residents on social media (with their permission) can foster peace of mind and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Tell a story to prospects — sharing positive resident experiences doesn’t just make families happy. Photos and videos of people in your community enjoying themselves tell a compelling story to prospects. Giving them a glimpse into what life in your community is really like will help them visualize themselves living there.  

Now that you know why your community should be on social media, let’s dive into creating your marketing plan!

  1. Determine the Right Channels

The first step of creating your social media strategy is to determine which channels will help you reach your target audience. Use data to find out the platforms they prefer. According to the latest research from Pew, of adults age 65+, 50% use Facebook and 49% use YouTube. These two platforms are the most popular among older adults and the most used overall, so they’d be a good place to start. 

We’ve also seen our client communities use Instagram and TikTok to great effect. Both of these platforms are associated with a younger userbase, though 48% of adults age 30-49 say they use Instagram. Remember that adult children often play a significant role in helping their loved one choose a community, so it’s important to reach them as well prove that your community provides a great resident experience.

You should also consider what each platform is best used for. Facebook can serve a similar function to your community’s website, acting as a hub for all things related to your business. Instagram is image-based, so it’s perfect for photos and videos that showcase your community’s offerings. Since older adults tend to enjoy YouTube, it’s the right place to try some video marketing. Customer testimonials are particularly powerful in video format. Here’s an excellent example from Berwick Retirement Communities explaining what they call “The Berwick Way.”

Choose 2 or 3 channels to start. It’s better to use a few channels well than it is to overload yourself!

  1. Determine When to Post

After you’ve chosen your channels, create an upload schedule. The best time to post will depend on your audience’s location and preferences. Do some research to find out the times and days of the week that they are most likely to be online.

When it comes to posting frequency, it’s important to strike a balance. You’ll want to post often enough to keep your followers engaged but not so often that you overwhelm them with content and drive them to unfollow. Posting on each platform 2-3 times a week should be sufficient. Just make sure you can deliver on the schedule you set. Consistency is key to building your social media presence. 

Create a social media calendar to keep track of when to post. You can also use social media management tools like Sprout Social, Later, or HubSpot to schedule posts so you won’t forget to upload them!

  1. Show Off Your Community's Life Enrichment Program

Once you’ve researched the best ways to reach your target audience, it’s time to share high-quality content they’ll love. Follow the 80/20 rule on social media — 80% of your content should be informative or entertaining, while 20% directly promotes your community. Showcase your residents participating in life enrichment programs, outings, and events, and let their enjoyment speak for itself. 

If you need inspiration for what to post, see what other senior living providers are sharing online. Search for their social media channels and see what works best for them. Take a look at these photos shared by Healthwin of their residents enjoying pet therapy or this video from Allegria Senior Living showing what happened when they gave their residents disposable cameras. These posts show just how committed the life enrichment teams are to making their residents’ days! 

To really show off what makes your community unique, highlight the amazing individuals who call it home. Recognize staff and residents with testimonials or a spotlight series like City View Retirement Community, which can then be shared on social media. Highly satisfied staff and residents are your best brand ambassadors, so let them tell their stories. Of course, sharing success stories begins with offering an exceptional resident experience. Once that’s accomplished, there will be opportunities to create meaningful content every day!

  1. Engage With the Online Community

At its heart, social media is about connecting with others. While it’s important to focus on sharing high-quality content, participating in the online community has many benefits.

Interacting with others online through your business’ social media channels extends your reach and heightens brand awareness. When you’re involved in the online community, people are more likely to find your channels through comments, likes, and shares.

Engaging with others can also help you build positive relationships with community partners. Thanking volunteers and donors by giving them a shoutout on social media goes a long way in making them feel appreciated. It ensures that the relationship is mutually beneficial since they receive some free advertising for their efforts. This can make them more likely to partner with your community in the future and even attract new partners. 

Of course, businesses frequently use social media to interact with their audience. Something as simple as liking positive comments and responding to questions can go far in satisfying current and prospective clients. To make sure you don’t miss this important step, plan time in your social media schedule for engagement!

  1. Collect Analytics and Adjust Your Strategy

Social media platforms come with a host of analytical tools for businesses. These tools will help you learn more about your followers and measure the growth of your channels. Each platform’s analytics page is slightly different. There are guides available online that can walk you through this section of your chosen platform.

Most social media platforms will show you information about your followers like the times and days they’re most active, so you can fine-tune your upload schedule. You can also see when people followed (or unfollowed) so you can determine if it was due to a post you made that day. This will help you understand the impact of your shared content. 

When it comes to channel growth, it’s tempting to focus on followers and likes. However, these aren’t always the most meaningful insights. The metrics you will want to focus on depend on your overall goals for the platform. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, you can measure your reach through metrics like impressions and engagement. If you’re focusing on improving sales, you can use a post’s click-through rate to determine if it’s leading people back to your website. 

Once you’ve analyzed this data, make the necessary adjustments to your strategy. Continue monitoring the impact of your efforts so you can achieve your desired results!

We hope this guide will help you enhance your senior living community’s social media strategy so you can reach your audience and attract more residents to your community. Your life enrichment team works incredibly hard to provide residents with exceptional experiences. Their efforts deserve to be seen, so get the word out there!Welbi’s resident experience platform can help you create the kind of life enrichment programming that’s worth showing off on social media. To learn more about how your life enrichment program can be part of your community’s marketing strategy, have a chat with us or download our free eBook The Business of Wellness for Senior Living Communities.

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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