This blog was originally published by Long Term Living Magazine.
Social Media is not like other marketing practices. It’s not a one-way street. When you pay for an advertisement – you’re telling your story. With social media – you also must listen. It’s a conversation.
In our last blog, we spoke about the best social media channels for engaging with Senior Housing prospects: 1) Facebook 2) Twitter 3) LinkedIn 4) MySpace; 5) A Corporate Blog. Now that we know where we should be spending our “social” time, what should we be doing. What follows are recommended steps for entering the social sphere and using social media to market with prospects.
1. Assign one person within your company to spearhead social marketing. One person means one voice is speaking for your company, providing consistency in communication and actions.
2. Create Accounts on the Top 5 Recommended Social Media Sites.
For each of the sites listed above, secure your company name – including a relevant user ID (for example, on Twitter you can find G5 at @G5Platform) and unique URL. Once you have ‘secured your name’ in the Top 5, you can drill down further.
a. Brand Your Profile – Make it clear to site members that this is a company profile. Examples: Use your logo, some event photos from your community.
b. Link to your Company Site – Increases the profile’s authenticity and generates traffic
c. Include Unique Content – Gives site members a reason to visit your company’s group page or become a fan. Examples: short-form (YouTube) videos and/or photos of your community.
d. Develop Interactive Content – Encourages site members to engage with your company page versus a static brand message. Examples: E-cards, video/audio clips, contests. You can also use Facebook to invite any or all of your fans to events at your community – a great way to move your social site interactions into the ‘real world’.
4. Locate your target market(s) and current residents on social sites and start listening. Ignorance is no longer bliss; it’s imperative you know what people are saying about your community and your company so you can respond accordingly. To listen in on the conversation, first set up Google Alerts and Tweet Beeps to receive e-mail updates whenever specific words and/or phrases are used on Google search results or Twitter. This could mean your community name, but also relevant phrases such as ‘senior housing (your location)’ so you can respond to people who may be looking for services.
5. Interact with those markets and current customers Listen for and respond to relevant requests about a specific need that your company can address. Then address those requests. Be the expert in your city; you know your business and you know you’re offering a good product. Show families looking for senior housing that you have what they need and you will see results.
Remember that there is no “magic bullet” in social media. Being a part of the conversation, making yourself available and knowing what is out there are the most important elements. Don’t hide from the inevitable – social media is not going away and every business is going to be expected to have a presence. The sooner you create your presence, the sooner you can start reaping the rewards of being the senior housing community that understands the market.