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.
A note from the editor: If you attended our encore webcast entitled “The Power of Social Media in Senior Care” in February 2015, you can find the updated slideshow from that presentation here: The Power of Social Media in Senior Care, February 2015.