It’s no secret that senior living has historically been behind the curve when it comes to building an online presence. But in recent years, providers have made strides in meeting today’s and tomorrow’s consumers where they are: on social media.
Of American Seniors Housing Association’s (ASHA) top 25 providers, 96% are on Facebook and 72% are on Twitter, data show. In a new report, Senior Housing News evaluated metrics related to ASHA’s top 25 largest providers’ Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts to determine the top 10 most influential providers online.
Leading the pack with the No. 1 ranking is Sunrise Senior Living (NYSE: SRZ). Sunrise has more than 300 communities globally.
“Over the last five years, the usage of social media has significantly increased, especially as it pertains to our target demographic,” says Sunrise Senior Living’s Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications Meghan Lublin. “We spotted the opportunity to connect with and provide valuable resources to this audience around that time and continue to build upon our strategy.”
Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and Emeritus Senior Living Corp. (NYSE: ESC) rank second and third, respectively for their social media presence. The two companies were considered separately, but completed a $2.8 billion merger deal July 31, 2014. The merger makes them the largest senior living provider in the nation with a combined total of 1,150 communities.
But the number of communities a provider has doesn’t translate directly into brand presence, Senior Housing News’ research shows. While some companies benefit from the established presence of a large company or affiliate, smaller providers are carving out a niche in the social media landscape by promoting relevant content, or utilizing other innovative means to capture their target audience.
Rounding out the top five influential senior living brands online with the fourth and fifth ranking are Merrill Gardens Retirement Communities and The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, respectively. Merrill Gardens has 27 communities, while The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society has 240 communities.
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Merrill Gardens’ social media strategy involves telling residents’ stories, and being an “expert on lifestyle,” says Amanda Warren, director of marketing at Merrill Gardens.
“We’re staying consistent,” she says. “We’re showing who we are and what it is like to live in our communities. Being on social media is like having our own news station. What we do has to be timely.”
Ultimately, social media serves as a platform to engage with current residents and families, connect staff across multiple communities, and even nurture new leads, senior living providers agree.
“Social media has been extremely valuable to us,” Warren says. “We can foster a lead nurture campaign through social media. We’ve had success with prospects being able to know and look at Merrill Gardens as they move along in their decision-making process.”
Download a copy of The Most Influential Senior Living Brands Online for the complete ranking of of the top-10 social media operators in senior living, insight from top providers on how they manage their brands online, and more regarding the value of social media for senior living.
Written by Cassandra Dowell