Building Online Senior Living Brands Demands Consumer-Centric Content

Facebook probably won’t help build a senior living brand, but email might, marketing experts revealed during a webinar hosted last Thursday by Senior Housing News and sponsored by Creating Results on how to boost digital marketing return on investment.

Senior living marketers shouldn’t count on older consumers to help build their online brands through social media, panelists said.

“The older you are, the less likely you are to want to engage with a brand via social media,” says Erin Read, director of strategic planning at mature market public relations, advertising, and marketing agency Creating Results. A 2013 Silver Surfers market research survey conducted by Creating Results found that 62% of the 75+ demographic were not interested in engaging with a company through social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

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That attitude hasn’t changed much from an earlier survey conducted in 2010, according to Read, and successfully building an senior living brand via a solid online presence has more to do with email and video than other social media avenues.

“You need to stop worrying about whether folks will ‘like’ your brand on Facebook,” she said. Rather, the two top social sharing tools are emailing content to friends and YouTube, unchanged from the previous Silver Surfers survey. “Email is the channel they prefer, and it’s the number one online activity of older adults,” said Read.

In fact, nearly 21% of those aged 75 and older consider email a “familiar social network,” along with almost 20% of those aged 65-74.

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Still, here are ways to optimize website content offerings to appeal to older consumers and improve online presence. North Hill, a continuing care retirement community in Needham, Mass., worked with Creating Results to improve its digital marketing strategy in 2011.
Now, the community’s website is its largest source of leads and its second-largest source of contracts, according to Rebecca Donato, vice president of business development.
The CCRC’s digital goals are to build brand awareness and generate leads, she says, and since implementing its digital marketing strategy has seen website visitors more than double from 2011 to 2012 and 2013. Additionally, the community’s twitter followers leapt 218% from 2012 to 2013, along with a 209% increase in Facebook ‘likes.’

Another factor to consider is what kinds of content and material older consumers want to see—and what may be missing.

The absence of pricing remains a pet peeve for many older consumers, according to Todd Harff, president of Creating Results. Nearly half (46%) of older boomers and 70% of those belonging to the Silent Generation report being annoyed when a community’s website doesn’t include prices. Harff recommends stating the pricing, or at least explaining the pricing structure.

Action steps for improving digital marketing ROI include making web pages easily shareable via email, optimizing YouTube channels by creating searchable video content, and soliciting user reviews.

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Written by Alyssa Gerace

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