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By Michelle Seitzer, Senior Blogger at SeniorsforLiving.com
Love it or hate it, social media is part of our world now. And it has changed everything.
Every day, more senior living providers are “going social,” adding badges to their websites and assigning status updates, photo uploads, and link-sharing duties to staff. But simple as it seems to “Like” a page on Facebook or “RT” a useful link on Twitter here and there, successfully adding a social media arm to your brand can be a complicated process.
So how can you use this tool to your advantage? First, know the facts.
Fact #1: Your digital footprint and online reputation is just as important as your offline reputation.First impressions are still tremendously significant and hugely influential in a person’s decision-making process. With so many people turning to their iPhone or laptop to start the senior living search, your website, blog and social media profiles are the medium by which you’ll make that momentous first impression – no matter how friendly your caregivers, how delicious your meals, or how lovely your courtyards and common rooms.
Fact #2: Social media evens the playing field.Using social media is (mostly) free, which means that senior living companies with a tiny marketing budget can easily surpass the reach of amply-resourced organizations… if they have a substantial social media presence. So it really doesn’t matter if you’re a large national provider operating thousands of communities or a small, family-owned company with a handful of homes in a tri-county area. Because when a prospective resident’s granddaughter, son, or spouse finds your company on Facebook or follows you on Twitter, they will judge accordingly.
Fact #3: Using social media can be risky business.Spammers, bots, misusers, and abusers – they’re all out there, lurking in Twitter streams, masquerading as Facebook fans, and prowling to disparage the good names of individuals, organizations, and businesses playing in the social media sandbox.
If you’re going to engage in social media, you can’t entirely avoid these hazards. But you can be smart about deploying strategies that, a) put your brand in a positive light, b) draw people in and encourage them to visit your community in person, c) give family members peace of mind about the place they’ve chosen for a loved one, and d) maximize the potential for priceless word-of-mouth referrals.
Making Social Media Work for Your CommunitySo what’s the best way to get your name to the social media forefront, make a great first impression, avoid spam, and keep your solid reputation as a senior housing community or senior care provider both online and offline?
What You’ll Get from Responsible Social Media UseIf you’re successful in implementing these guidelines, you’ll reap long-term benefits. Because as web visitors and social media users get to know a “real person” associated with your senior housing community and your brand (and as regular visitors and followers develop a relationship with that individual), your company goes from “XYZ.com offering widgets A, B, and C” or “senior living provider based in Seattle” to “that really helpful senior housing expert who knows all about the challenges of caregiving” or the “great people at Grandma’s assisted living home.” And that’s a beautiful thing.
The “real person” behind SeniorsforLiving’s social media outreach, Michelle Seitzer spent 10 years filling various roles at assisted living communities in Pennsylvania and Maryland, then worked as a public policy coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association in PA before settling down as a full-time freelance writer. Seitzer also served as a long-distance caregiver for her beloved grandfather, who died of complications from Alzheimer’s in 2009. She has blogged for SeniorsforLiving.com, which provides information on assisted living, home care, and Alzheimer’s care, since November 2008, and is the co-moderator of the first #eldercarechat on Twitter, held every other Wednesday at 1pm EST. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Member to Member SolutionsAllied members, do you have advice you would like to share with other ALFA members? Submit your article proposal for inclusion in ALFA Update through ALFA’s new Member to Member Solutions column.
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