Senior Living Goes Viral: A ‘Happy’ YouTube Success

A pop song that reached the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in March 2014 and received international acclaim inspired people from cities around the world to create tribute videos and share them on video-sharing website YouTube — including a Wichita, Kansas-based senior living provider.

Oxford Senior Living created a tribute video featuring staff and residents dancing to pop musician Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy,” and the video went viral, receiving over 7,000 likes.

“When we released this video you weren’t seeing elderly people having any fun in these ‘Happy’ tribute videos,” says Coryanne Graham, marketing and brand managerat Oxford Senior Living, about the impetus for creating a senior-driven tribute music video for the song. “We wanted to show you don’t have to be young to have a good time. It was a great way for us to share our ‘love where you live, and love where you work’ philosophy.”


Over half of boomers and seniors (54%) watch online videos, with entertainment and utility being the top motivations for viewing online videos, according to a May 2013 study by Google and Ipsos. And YouTube is the preferred video website, at 82% for those 45 and older.

“It was also great to see how it impacted our peers in the industry,” Graham says, noting that other providers reached out to comment about the video. The “Happy” video is one of a handful of YouTube videos Oxford has uploaded, and while YouTube isn’t a key part of Oxford’s social media strategy right now, the operator does regularly post videos to Facebook.

Using video on social media has proven to be a successful tool for Oxford to communicate with the families of current and prospective residents, she says.


Of American Seniors Housing Association’s (ASHA) top 25 providers, 96% are on Facebook and 72% are on Twitter, according to a new report by Senior Housing News.

After posting the video on May 9, 2014, featured communities’ local media picked up the story, which generated positive press about the Oxford brand, Graham says.

The music video was shot at three different Oxford locations —The Oxford Grand Assisted Living & Memory Care, in Wichita, Kansas; Glen Carr House Memory Care Residence, in Derby, Kansas; and Oxford Glen Memory Care Community, in Sachse, Texas — and only took a couple of weeks to make.

Graham and site life enrichment directors directed the video. The only outside help the provider used to create the video was a third-party videographer.

“We didn’t have some outside firm coming in,” she says. “We did it on a budget. If we outsourced the video to a marketing firm, it would not have had the same impact. I can walk into our buildings any day of the week and it’s like a party going on. It made sense for us to capture it.”

In the video, staff and residents sway and clap, as well as play games and exercise along to the upbeat pop song.

After the video was uploaded, some of the Oxford communities hosted a viewing party to celebrate with staff and residents.

“The best type of feedback was from people commenting on the video and saying, ‘That’s where I want to live,’” she says. “They look so genuinely happy.”

Download a copy of The Most Influential Senior Living Brands Online for more examples of how providers are using social media to boost brand awareness, a ranking of the top-10 social media operators in senior living, and more regarding the value of social media for senior living.

Written by Cassandra Dowell