2014 has been very exciting for Caring.com. And as this year comes to a close, we’re taking a moment to reflect on a few of the important developments, activities, and changes that have occurred at our organization in the last 12 months. Likewise, we hope you — our invaluable partners and friends in senior housing and care — will share with us your thoughts about these milestones and achievements, and about the news and activities of 2014 at your senior care organizations.
A Growing Team of Talented Professional
With a goal of enhanced partner services, we expanded our sales and marketing team to include industry veterans Shannon Ingram and Brennan Hughes, formerly of Silverado and Emeritus/Brookdale, respectively. They joined Megan Fletcher, formerly of Merrill Gardens, to bring years of industry acumen and relationships from major operators.
Quality Improvements for Internet Referrals
The quality of Internet referrals we send to our directory partners is a top priority for us. We dramatically improved our lead alerts to improve speed and clarify action for our senior living community partners. At present, our monthly unique visitor count is over 2 million, far outpacing our next competitor (with 300,000). We currently receive 40,000 inquiries each month, and we are refining conversations through our call center to improve the precision and quality of each referral. After our screening process, we send more than 8,000 leads out to our partners every month.
New Educational Program for Digital Marketing
The Caring.com Digital Marketing Academy debuted in June, offering monthly senior care industry webinars, research, and data from three major market studies, covering the new senior care search, the costs of caregiving on families, and the costs of Alzheimer’s care on families. We also improved our partner newsletter, Caring.com Insights, and redesigned our partner site to better service the sales and marketing efforts of the senior care industry.
New Product Features in 2014
- Feature 1: Respond to a Review Instantly
As social proof has become more important in consumer search, we’ve launched new, convenient review response features for directory advertising clients, including automated “Provider Response” and “Contest a Review” features. Overall, we continue to see growth in your responses to reviews on your listings, demonstrating that more senior care providers are now managing their online reputations.
- Feature 2: “Read Our Reviews” badge (with HTML code)
We recently launched a new “Read Our Reviews” badge (with HTML code), available for any business listed in our Senior Care Directory. This online badge enables rapid promotion of testimonials on Caring.com, something that was immediately embraced by home care agencies and has caught on with senior living communities, too.
- Feature 3: Caring.com Phone Reviews Program Expansion
We expanded the Caring.com phone review program to include a higher volume of outreach to your happy residents, home care clients, and their families. Additionally, we now have a review referral program, which allows our listing customers to send us names and numbers for collection of consumer reviews. Together, these programs are helping generate a higher volume of integral reviews each month.
Acquisition Into Bankrate Network
Last spring, Caring.com was proud to be acquired by Bankrate, Inc. (NYSE: RATE). We are pleased to be a part of the Bankrate network of companies, expanding our reach to 14 million online consumers nationwide each month.
It’s been a year of exciting activity and growth, and in the coming year we look forward to expanding the reach of our services to more families and strengthening our relationships with you. Until then, we’re wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season and best wishes for continued success in 2015.
• Ragan’s Health Care Communications
• Social Media Today
• Hubspot Marketing Resources Library
• KISS Metrics
• Dan Zarrella, social scientist
• Brian Solis, digital analyst
• Beth Kanter, social marketing for non-profits
This list mentioned during the Caring.com Digital Marketing Academy webcast, “The Power of Social Media in Senior Care” in November 2014. Read the summary of the session and view slides now.
Consider this: Your target market — older adults and baby boomers — are using social media in increasing numbers. The Pew Internet and American Life Project has been surveying Internet users in the United States for years and reports that the majority of boomers and older adults are now online, with most using the Internet daily. They have mobile phones, and they don’t just use them for making calls; with smartphones, the Internet is literally at their fingertips. They’re also among the fastest growing demographic for social networking, with 65% of online boomers using social networks, and nearly half of older adults on social networks too.
Social Media: Proven Benefits for Seniors in Daily Life
For older adults, social media can help combat loneliness and boredom, increase their connections to family members, serve as a learning tool, and possibly deliver some financial savings via online deals or sites such as Groupon. Social media has even been found to help with their cognitive health. For instance, in a study by Janelle Wohltmann at the University of Arizona’s Department of Psychology, older adults who were using Facebook performed better on memory tasks than prior to receiving training on that platform.
Search Decisions Increasingly Based on Online Word of Mouth
Perhaps most important for your senior care business: Social media or online word of mouth is being used to help boomers and seniors identify the best local senior care providers for their needs and preferences. What people find about your business in search results and social media — your online reputation — creates or influences their first impressions of your brand and organization. Those first impressions can matter a great deal, including stopping any further interest or interaction with you. On Caring.com, for instance, listings with reviews can get up to 14 times more inquiries than listings without reviews — which can lead to more move-ins for senior living communities and new clients for home care agencies.
Best Practices for the Senior Care Industry
Once enticed and empowered to use social media, boomers and seniors become avid users; some become what I like to call “super users” or folks participating many hours online daily. This presents significant opportunities for your senior care business — and it’s important that you understand best practices and focus your efforts where you’ll achieve the most results.
Through Caring.com’s Digital Marketing Academy for the senior care industry, we explored this topic further in a webinar on November 20, 2014. We discussed:
- The definition, demographics, and culture of social media
- Aspects of Facebook, the current “king” of social networking — including the psychology of sharing and what types of shares are more viral than others
- How LinkedIn and Twitter can be useful to senior care companies
- Online reputation management, consumer reviews, and how to respond to senior care reviews in particular
- The value of social awards and contests
- Specific social media considerations and practical actions for your business that are aligned with social marketing best practices and have led to success for others in the industry
The session was well attended by a diverse group of senior care professionals and generated some great feedback and questions. Below are the presentation slides, along with notes from specific sections:
- Entire Deck: The Power of Social Media in Senior Care
- Topic: Reaching Boomers and Seniors Through Social Media
- Topic: Social Media Marketing Basics and Best Practices
- Topic: Facebook
- Topic: Online Reputation and Consumer Reviews
During the session, I also mentioned that social media is constantly evolving, and that ongoing learning needs to be part of your plan. Here’s a list of resources I recommend to support you in that aspect of this endeavor.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Also, given the popularity and importance of the topic, we’ll be hosting an encore presentation in February. Save the date and register early — it’s a free educational event and space is limited.