[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.]
COVID-19 has forced everyone to rethink how they communicate with their customers and prospects—and this is especially true for senior living communities.
Anyone who’s worked for any length of time in our industry has had to face troubling perception issues, such as “old folks’ homes” and the like. Given the recent pandemic, however, these problematic perceptions have increased exponentially, thanks in large part to the media breathlessly reminding viewers/readers that senior living communities serve as ground zero for the coronavirus.
How’s a community supposed to combat THAT sort of image?
Here’s one idea: Facebook Live.
What is Facebook Live?
HubSpot shares this solid definition: “Facebook Live is a feature of the Facebook social network that uses the camera on a computer or mobile device to broadcast real-time video to Facebook. Live broadcasters can decide who on Facebook can see their video and use this content to engage their audience during the moments and events that are important to them.”
You’ve likely encountered Facebook Live videos and not even realized it. Reporters use them in the field all the time. And even “regular” people will use Facebook Live to chronicle aspects of their day-to-day lives.
Could Facebook Live really make a difference when it comes to challenging people’s perceptions of senior living communities during this pandemic?
We think so. Regular, reasonable communication can have a huge—and positive—effect on people.
Consider this current example: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midday news conferences have become legendary the last few weeks. His briefings are highly anticipated (they occur at roughly the same time each day). They’re also highly informative, but down to earth and accessible by lay people. And—most important—they are calming and rational. He doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening in his state, but at the same time, he responsibly shares info and even finds opportunity for levity and humor.
The result? People are tuning in. Why? Because people crave reliable info, and they want to know what’s going on. (Plus, they’re a captive audience right now!)
Now, granted, Cuomo’s press briefings are broadcast via good old-fashioned television, but the concept is the same as Facebook Live: regular, real-time communication with an audience during these unprecedented times can be an excellent way to combat misinformation and troubling perceptions.
But don’t take our word for it. One of our clients, Vitality Senior Living, has been doing regular Facebook Live events with the CEO and President, Chris Guay—to great effect. You can see one here.
How do Facebook Live events work?
Here’s the good news: they’re easy to do! If you have a smartphone, you can conduct Facebook Live events for any Facebook page where you’re an admin or editor. You can also go live from a desktop equipped with a web cam (and, again, for pages you’re an admin or editor).
From there, it’s a matter of simply hitting the “go live” or “start live video” buttons/prompts. But we recommend doing a couple of private videos first, just to get comfortable.
Note: we know being “on camera” can be nerve racking for people. No one is expecting Meryl Streep or Brad Pitt. What we all want right now is a real person speaking real, unvarnished truths. If you stumble or um or ah at times—IT’S OK.
Need further guidance on how to get going? Check out the following resources:
- Facebook gives a good overview of its Facebook Live feature here.
- HubSpot has an in-depth tutorial on how to use Facebook Live—includes filming tips.
We’ll wait here while you check ’em out. Then, come back for tips on what YOU should be talking about regarding your senior living community and COVID-19.
Who should do Facebook Live events?
Executive directors are a good choice. And yes, we get the executive directors might not WANT to do it, but it makes sense for them to be the “face” of your community. But it doesn’t need to simply be the EDs. You could also have your Wellness Director, Facilities Director, Activities Director, and so forth host their own Facebook Live videos and talk about the specifics related to their role/department.
For example, here’s Vitality’s Regional Vice President of Wellness. This video currently has over 2000 views and 25 shares—that’s excellent engagement!
How often should you do them?
The pandemic is changing daily, sometimes hourly. Right now, it might make sense to do regular “briefings” (ideally at the same time every day—don’t forget, most of us are stuck at home, so you’ll have a captive audience).
But as the situation improves, you could move to a few times a week. Here’s the thing: because Facebook Live is such a great way to connect with people and communicate about your brand, you might discover that you want to continue doing these events long after the pandemic is over.
What should you talk about?
Use this “all eyes on you” opportunity to reframe some of the scarier messages that are out there about COVID-19 and senior living communities. Yes, older people are vulnerable to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean every senior living community on the planet has become a death trap.
Instead, educate viewers regarding the following items…
- The current status in your community; be transparent about any cases and how your community is responding; if you DON’T have any cases, LEAD WITH THIS.
- How your community handles social distancing.
- How residents are still living full lives during these unprecedented times
- What you know, what you don’t know (no one knows everything about this situation, and it’s OK to say that—honesty is paramount here)
- Protocols in place for cleaning/disinfecting.
- Walk-throughs of certain areas—show that you’re well-stocked with toilet paper and food; people like seeing these visual reassurances.
- Happy, positive stories, such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and so forth.
- The measures your community takes every day to create a place that supports older adults in living rich, purposeful lives in a healthy, safe environment.
- When appropriate (and with permission, of course!) include an occasional live event with a senior and let them talk about how they’re dealing with things; for example, if your community is encouraging residents to Skype their loved ones, you could do a Facebook Live that shows a resident doing Skyping in the background.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt, as you continue to get comfortable and do more videos, you’ll come up with other topics. Not to mention, people will post questions during your videos. Be sure to address them—either during the live event itself or in a future Facebook Live video.
What else can you do with the Facebook Live videos?
Here’s the real beauty of these broadcasts—you do them live, but then they’re saved on your Facebook page (in the Videos tab) so people can watch them on demand.
Here’s what you can do with the videos:
- Send out a daily/weekly email with a link to the video and a reminder about when you’ll be broadcasting next.
- Share the video link on other social media channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Keep a “library” of video links on your COVID-19 page/section on your site. (You have one, right?)
Need help getting started with Facebook Live?
We’re always happy to help you shine! You can test drive some videos on us and/or ask us for talking points if you’re feeling nervous. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.