7 Things Every Senior Living, Home Care and LTC Provider Wants to Know About Social Media
I co-manage a vibrant online community for senior care marketers called the Daily Grind, and every so often, I pose a question to the community members. Back in April, 2010, I asked this: If you could ask any question about social media as it relates to our industry, what would it be? Many people responded. You can view the entire thread here. Below is a summary of some of the questions, and the answers I gave…
1. How do I find a credible vendor that I can trust that understands social media. What should I look for when selecting a vendor?
Look for a vendor that has a good track record of using social media for their own business. If the vendor is not blogging, using Twitter and Facebook, etc. successfully themselves, they cannot do a good job helping you. Also, if they tell you social media is easy and will provide huge returns, run. Finally, try to use someone with knowledge of and experience in our industry.
2. How do I overcome the IT department’s lack of support?
Education. Education. Education. IT departments need to develop a meaningful understanding of how social technologies both inside and outside the corporate firewall can benefit, and possibly harm, the company. Those of us within companies that have this knowledge need to demonstrate the transformative potential of social technologies to IT and other stakeholders. We need to champion the cause. We need to bring these tools to the right people and prove their value.
3. How do I find the time to manage social media?
The first and most obvious answer is you need to make time – you can’t afford not to. Find things you spend time doing in your week that are not working and replace them with new media initiatives. Your customers make time to get online to do research and make purchasing decisions and your competitors make time to provide your customers with information and help them with purchasing decisions. But beyond that, you need to develop a strategy that keeps you focused on the business goals of the tools you choose to use. Pull to together a team of internal folks and disperse the work load. If you need to, hire a pro to help you out.
4. We don’t have the money to invest in the development of social media. What does an on line community cost?
I can’t be more clear about this – you can’t afford not to invest some resources in social media. The longer you wait, the more invisible you become. Early adopters will have a distinct advantage in this space as time goes on. This has been proven by large companies like Zappos and Coke. If you have the right people in your organization – staff who use social technologies in their personal lives – and you dedicate some time to the cause, you can start using social media for very little up front cost.
5. What does it typically cost to start using social media?
See above. If you do it on your own, it could only costs your time. Then again, time is money, so it’s going to cost you money regardless of how you do it. Right now I’m working with a small homecare company that has chosen to “go social” using me as their guide. They are dedicating $1000 per month to the effort and together we are going to transform their online presence over the course of 6-12 months. They elected to shift dollars away from T.V. and radio ads that were not producing desired results and move that money into a social strategy. This is just one example and cost can vary. There are generally three ways to do this: 1. Do-it-Yourself (DIY), 2. Done-for-You (DFY), 3. Done-with-You (DWY). I prefer the Done-with-You approach and that’s how I work with my clients.
6. How do we get our residents families to participate in our social media?
By marketing your social sites effectively and giving them a reason to participate. First, they have to know about the sites and how to access them. Second, if you have a blog or Twitter account and all you ever do is shout about how great you are, nobody will care. You have to provide value in order for people to keep coming back. See my articles, “What Every LTC Organization Needs to Know About Their Website” and “Ten Reasons Why Your Company’s Blog Sucks” for more on this.
7. Are videos the way to go and how does it affect our SEO?
Absolutely YES to both. Video is taking over the internet and can drive tons of traffic to your site. I refer you to this article I wrote on Brookdale Senior Living. Take a look at the video on the bottom of the post. You should also take a look at Brookdale’s YouTube Channel – It’s awesome! They know how to rock video and are a model for how YouTube can be used by senior living/LTC companies for everything from marketing to SEO, to customer support. Finally, check out “HOW TO: Boost Your SEO with a YouTube Channel” which was just published by Mashable.
For more discussion on social media best practices for senior living, LTC and home care, join us over at Daily Grind and/or consider a free membership in ALFA’s new online community ALFA Exchange, where you can dialog with me and other pros in the Social Media Best Practices Forum.