We asked Kerri-Anne Pendergast, our Director of Social Media Marketing, to pull back the curtain and discuss how she approaches senior living social media marketing for our clients.
Below, we talk about the following:
- The platforms all communities must maintain a presence on
- Content types that always work
- Types of content Kerri-Anne wishes more clients tried
- The difference between organic social and paid social
- How to measure social media marketing ROI
Tell readers a little bit about your background.
I started with Senior Living SMART in July 2020 as an intern during the thick of the pandemic. I came on as a general intern and found my niche within social media. Once I graduated college, SLS hired me as an associate. Then, at the beginning of 2021, my direct supervisor left the company. So, I took over his role. And now, three years later, I’m the Director of Social Media Marketing.
Discuss how you work with new clients.
We start by auditing their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Business Profile, provided they have those assets. From there, we identify strengths, weaknesses, goals, and benchmarks. I like collaborating with our content team about the premium content pieces they have planned. I make sure our social efforts align with what they’re developing.
We also make sure we understand all the different levels of care our clients offer. The content team does an excellent job developing personas for our clients. Personas are essential for understanding which messages and social media platforms will resonate best with prospects. For example, the message for a single man seeking an active adult community will look different than our message to an adult daughter looking for memory care for her mother.
How does your approach change when working with a community with multiple locations? For example, do you develop a Facebook page for each location, or is it just one overarching brand Facebook page?
For Facebook, we encourage clients to have a general corporate page and a page for each community. So, if a client has eight communities, we should see nine Facebook pages in total: one for corporate and a page per community. The reasoning behind that is to share the lifestyle and culture of each community.
LinkedIn is a different story since it’s more about connecting potential employees with jobs and sharing industry-related news. One corporate page is usually enough.
With YouTube, the client could have one main YouTube account and use playlists for each community. Or the client can create separate YouTube channels for each community. It depends on the client’s internal marketing teams and their available bandwidth for managing these platforms. We can help, but having that inside person is critical to creating authentic content.
And each community must claim its Google Business Profile since this profile serves as a mini website.
What social media platforms are the most effective for senior living communities? Is there one “must-have” platform that you typically recommend to all clients? Or does it depend?
Right now, senior living communities should be on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn (for a corporate account). Each community should have its own Google Business Profile as well.
We consider Instagram second tier. This is because there’s not much we can do for the client from our end on Instagram. The client must keep their Instagram account engaging and active since it should be all about an inside look at the community, with resident images and videos that tell a story about the lifestyle. It requires more upkeep. The demographic is definitely there, so if the client’s internal team has the bandwidth to take it on, they should. (Need help? Download our free guide to success on Instagram.)
What type of content always works well on senior living social media channels?
Photos and videos always work well, especially short-form videos. Video is the most engaging type of content, even if it’s just taking a blog and turning it into a 30-second video that the audience can consume in a different form.
For Facebook and YouTube, we recommend showing life inside the community. For LinkedIn, we recommend creating posts that demonstrate industry expertise and thought leadership. Check out our free guide on how to effectively use LinkedIn for your senior living community.
What type of content do you wish more clients would do?
Video, especially short-form videos under a minute, are exploding. For example, watching a video recapping an event will be much more engaging than a stock image from the event promotion or a line or two of text about the event. But it’s a challenge getting clients to shoot these quick-hitting videos simply because their teams are already spread thin.
Let’s talk about organic social media vs. paid social media. What’s the difference, and what must communities keep in mind?
Anything that’s organic means that it doesn’t have money behind it. Anything called advertising or “paid” has money behind it. Organic social means people are interacting with your content naturally through search, shared posts, and/or because they’re following your account. With paid social, you’re actively running ads promoting your community or content.
We don’t typically recommend long-term paid social campaigns. Our clients see much better ROI running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on Google.
All that said, if a client does want to advertise on Facebook (or wherever), we’ll support those efforts. “Boosting” posts can be an effective short-term strategy, especially if you’re promoting an event. Boosting means putting money behind an existing post to gain a more extensive reach. You can boost videos, images, texts, really anything. But videos and images are the sweet spot for paid social.
When it comes to deciding if you should try paid social, it all comes down to your goals. If the goal is to spread your message to a bigger audience and build awareness about your brand, then Facebook ads can work. But the traffic you create will likely be top-of-the-funnel; the leads won’t be converting into tours or move-ins any time soon.
Bottom line: Consider your main goal. You might not convert a lead to a move-in with a Facebook advertisement, but you might get them to download a brochure, which will nudge them farther down the sales funnel.
Note: LinkedIn ads are expensive, so we don’t recommend advertising on LinkedIn, but you could use it for recruitment. And we don’t usually recommend advertising on Instagram since Facebook is more of that sweet spot—plus, Meta owns both Facebook and Instagram. We won’t refuse a client’s request if they want to experiment with ads on Instagram. We’ll guide them with best practices.
Again, it’s all about working through the process, understanding objectives, and creating a strategy that maximizes the budget.
Who on the client side should be involved with contributing social media content? Is it just marketing and sales teams—or should others be tasked with developing content?
Anyone who has the time and interest to get involved should be involved: the activities director, receptionist, really anyone can help contribute content. Most of the time, it’s the activity coordinators, but anyone who is in the community and can snap some photos or video, we want to encourage that.
How do you quantify social media “success” and ROI? What does “successful” social media even look like for organic social? For paid?
We quantify success based on benchmarking. We like to look at where the client is when we first onboard them. Then, quarter to quarter, we report our findings on clicks, impressions, engagements, and the number of posts.
If our optimizations are working—and the client is following our recommendations—we should see a steady increase quarter-to-quarter. For paid social, we look at impressions, clicks, click-through rate, and conversion rate, but goals should be set beforehand so that you have something to measure against.
If there’s ONE thing you wish all communities understood about social media, what would it be?
Social media is so saturated nowadays, which is why quality matters more than quantity. If you’re posting just to post something and it doesn’t make sense to your goals or what your audience is expecting, don’t post it. It’s as simple as that.
Is there anything else you want to make sure we communicate about senior living social media marketing?
You get what you give! If you promote engaging content, you’ll get good engagement. It’s pretty simple.
Have a goal.
Post quality content over quantity.
Also, make sure you respond to comments, messages, and reviews. It’s not just about posting. It’s about being SOCIAL and engaging with people.
Need fresh eyes on your social media marketing strategy?
We can help! Download our free guide to social media best practices for senior living. Or if you want more hands-on help, get in touch, and let’s discuss social media.