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Senior Social Studies

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By Amy Belasen

Facebook is the number one ranked social site among all US social networking users. While the largest group of Facebook users is young adults ages 18-29, Seniors ages 65+ are logging on to the social networking site in record numbers. According to a May 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project survey, 26% of Seniors ages 65+ are using Facebook in an effort to learn about their children and grandchildren’s lives, to reconnect with friends from their past, and to reach out to others with chronic diseases by starting conversations online.

In an informal poll conducted at G5, 57% of respondents have family members ages 65+ who are social network users. A few key findings:

• 100% communicate via Facebook, with 5% also active on LinkedIn

• 43% of employees routinely interact with family members ages 65+ via Facebook, regularly sharing photos, messages and wall posts

Among older adult users, there are some concerns about public vs. private information shared on social networking sites. As one parent explained, “I’m on Facebook but I sure as hell don’t know how to use it. Scares me to death that I might say something that the whole world will read.” (This respondent will remain anonymous in case the whole world is reading our blog).

Facebook’s following among Seniors provides Senior Living providers with an online opportunity to reach out and engage with current and prospective residents and their family members. Creating a fan page allows existing residents and their relatives to “like” (or “fan”) the community. With each new fan, referral potential grows as friends and family members sign on to explore shared networks. “Liking” links to common interest pages such as a local sports team or bookstore is another way to interact with potential residents. Engaging fans on Facebook is a time commitment, but well worth the effort.

As Seniors sign on to Facebook in increasing numbers, Senior Living providers have an opportunity to interact with this demographic online. Partnered with a website, a profile page for your Senior Living community not only acts as a forum to get conversations started within your community, but also serves as a way for Seniors to refer friends by sharing the page with others. By creating a fan base on Facebook that drives traffic to your website and location, referrals and leads shouldn’t be too far behind.

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