Senior Living Providers Find Social Media Can Be Crisis Defense

| May 20, 2013

For senior living providers, social media can be the first line of defense against any negative press in the event of a crisis.

As social media has been giving way to more citizen journalists sprouting up, senior living providers have to act quickly to get their message out, or else face the risk of misrepresentation and misinformation, according to Randy Eilts, director of public relations at GlynnDevins, during a session at the Life Services Network’s Chicago conference in May.

“It’s not what we say, but how we say it and how quickly it happens,” says Eilts, urging providers to take control of the situation when it occurs. “If you have a plan in place, you’re the one ready to pull the trigger.”

By being prepared and leveraging established communication channels, providers can help shape their message, influence the conversation and squash misinformation, says Eilts.

While Facebook claims to host to one billion monthly active users, it was Twitter that had the fastest growing platform in the last year, having grown 40% in 2013, according to data from GlobalWebIndex. With 288 million users across 31 various markets, 21% of the global internet population now use Twitter actively on a monthly basis.

The media is no stranger to utilizing social media such as Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube, according to a 2010 Bulldog Reporter/TEKGROUP International survey referenced during Eilts’ presentation.

About 55.5% of journalists reported using Twitter to research stories in the survey, with 73.4% preferring Facebook. Additionally, 54.3% said they seek audio or video material from corporate websites.

The incident at Glenwood Gardens that occurred earlier this year in March, where a community nurse refused to administer CPR to a resident who ultimately passed away showed social media’s impact and the negative press it can attract in the aftermath of a crisis.

An event that garnered national exposure, Eilts notes the issue spawned thousands of Twitter comments, as well as 1,160 people on Facebook talking about the community’s operator, Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE:BKD).

The prominence of smartphones and tablets have made various forms of social media only an arm’s length away, altering how the public consumes news, says Eilts.

“People don’t just consume news from the radio, the television or the morning paper as much as they once did,” says Eilts.

Because of this, he adds, social media plans must be designed with the current media landscape in mind and the reality of how people are consuming their news today.

Written by Jason Oliva


Category: Senior Care, Senior Living, Technology

Comments (2)

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  1. Pete Jones says:

    Great post Jason. We (Merit Senior Living) work with HR departments to understand their benefits and pitfalls with using social media, among many other things. We wrote a post recently that outlines items they should be cognizant of, called HR and Social Media: Best Practices for Going Social http://info.meritresources.com/blog/bid/281183/HR

    • JasonSHN says:

      Thanks for the input, Pete! Your post also brings up some great information. With social media so ingrained in the way we communicate in this day and age, it's crucial to utilize this communication form to one's advantage.