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Using Social Proof in Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Have you ever been in a social situation where you weren’t sure how to behave—should I sit, stand, congregate in one room, avoid another—and you modeled your behavior based on what others around you were doing?

That’s social proof (or social influence) in action.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini coined the phrase social proof in his book Influence: Science and Practice. The term suggests that when people don’t know how to behave or what to do in a situation, they tend to look at what other folks are doing, assuming (rightly or wrongly) that others have more information or insight.

OK, so you might be wondering what social proof has to do with digital marketing for senior living. Turns out, a lot. Below, we discuss what social proof is in terms of marketing, why it matters for your senior living community, and what you can do to foster it.

What is social proof in marketing?

Social proof in marketing occurs when someone other than the brand says the brand is fabulous, and this stamp of approval influences others to buy from the brand. As noted above, humans tend to be influenced by what other people do and experience.

⮚      Have you ever had a bunch of friends talk up a new show on Netflix or Hulu, and you found yourself watching it over the following weekend? That’s social proof. (This is how The Bear took off last year.)

⮚      Have you ever craved a specific type of food and chosen a restaurant based on its stellar Yelp reviews? That, too, is social proof.

⮚      Have you ever asked for a recommendation in a Facebook group—maybe for a plumber, landscaper, or hair stylist—and eight comments mentioned the same person, which spurred you to call them? Hello, social proof!

Social proof is also closely tied with another concept many of us know: FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” Think of any product that’s gone viral—from the Cabbage Patch dolls of the 80s to the veggie chopper everyone’s talking about on TikTok. These things take off because influencers talk them up, and suddenly, everyone wants to have the product or service.

Why is social proof important in digital marketing for senior living?

We don’t have to tell you that people hesitate before making big purchases. Moving to a senior living community is often the last big purchase a person will make in their lifetime—and it’s a pricey one.

Prospective buyers want to be reassured that they’re making a good decision. And that’s precisely where social proof comes into play. They want to hear about people’s experiences in the community: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Were they happy? Was it money well spent? Were they cared for? Was the place as wonderful as the website and marketing materials suggested?

If your community lacks social proof, you’ll have an uphill battle converting marketing-qualified leads into move-ins.

Consider these social proof stats cited by OptIn Monster:

  • 87% of purchasing choices start with online research before the transaction.
  • The average consumer reads ten online reviews before deciding to buy.
  • 88% of people value user reviews as highly as personal suggestions.
  • 82% of Americans consult friends and family for advice before buying something.

Bottom line: social proof matters!

What types of social proof should senior living communities encourage?

Reviews

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely heard us emphasize the importance of your senior living community’s Google Business Profile, particularly the reviews. At some point, most of your prospects will see your Google reviews.

When it comes to reviews, focus on doing the following:

Regularly solicit reviews. If you don’t have recent reviews, this can lead to questions and diminish trust in your brand. Why are the reviews a year old? What does this mean? Is the community still around? Did something change with management? Does that five-star review from three years ago tell an accurate story of what it’s like in the community today?

⮚      INSIGHT: OptIn Monster reports that eighty-five percent of consumers believe online reviews older than three months are irrelevant.

Maintain an overall positive rating. Most reasonable people don’t expect perfection. In fact, a perfect 5.0 for reviews would likely raise an eyebrow since enough folks have likely heard about fake or paid reviews. At the same time, people will quickly cross off communities with ratings in the threes or lower. We advise our clients to aim for the sweet spot of 4.0 to 4.5. This tends to be a believable score as well as a good score.

⮚      INSIGHT: OptIn Monster reports that fifty-seven percent of consumers will only purchase or use a business’s services if it has a rating of at least four stars.

 

Provide thoughtful responses to all reviews, especially negative reviews. Are your responses kind and authentic? Or snarky and defensive? People do take note. Demonstrating that you’re listening to people’s critiques will serve your community a lot better than a dismissive response to a negative review.

⮚      INSIGHT: TrustPulse reports that fifty-six percent of consumers alter their view of a business based on the way it responds to reviews.

Referrals

We mentioned earlier that most people seek recommendations from friends and family before buying something. Having a robust referral program can help you take advantage of this stat.

Referrals can come from residents, family members, and third parties, such as elder law attorneys, financial planners, and geriatric care managers.

RESIDENTS. The best way to get referrals from residents is by creating a seamless move-in experience—and a stellar first month. (We’re not suggesting things should go downhill from there, but the first 30 days are critical.) Marketing, sales, and other departments (like activities) should collaborate. Silo mentalities need-not apply. Learn how to create an epic new resident welcome program.

FAMILY MEMBERS. Adult children can be an excellent megaphone for your community, especially if their mom or dad is having a wonderful experience. Remember that the adult child can continue to be a referral source even after the resident moves out or passes away (provided the experience remains positive until the end). Learn more about the adult child’s journey and why staying in touch with them is critical.

THIRD-PARTY REFERRALS. Sales reps should always nurture these relationships and regularly network. Still, marketers can help by providing compelling collateral and setting up automated email workflows to make it easier for reps to stay in touch with their networking contacts. Learn more about how to engage with senior living referral sources.

Need help developing social proof for your community?

There’s no better form of social proof than glowing reviews and a steady stream of referrals. Get in touch if you need help generating more of one or both. We specialize in digital marketing for senior living and know how to prime your community’s social proof engine.

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: Storytelling Tips

Photo of a cell phone for the article Senior Living Social Media Marketing: Storytelling Tips

Humans are suckers for a good story, full stop. We love telling stories. We love listening to stories. And thanks to social media, there’s no shortage of ways to consume stories, either.

For the casual scroller, encountering interesting stories on social media can be a fun way to while away the hours. For savvy businesses, however, sharing memorable stories can increase engagement, brand recognition, and even sales.

Consider these compelling storytelling stats:

So, let’s discuss the power of storytelling in senior living social media marketing—and some tips for creating truly memorable stories on three of the biggies: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Facebook

Along with YouTube, Facebook is still the granddaddy of all social media platforms, with over two billion active daily users globallyAccording to Hootsuite, it’s also the most used platform in the U.S.

This makes Facebook an ideal platform for senior living communities to connect with prospects, current residents, and their families.

Facebook Storytelling Tips for Senior Living

Your residents are an excellent source of compelling stories, so turn to them for ideas. Even better, their stories won’t be the same ones people see on a competitor’s social media accounts.

Here’s how to use their stories on Facebook:

 

  • New resident spotlights. By highlighting a new resident, you’ll create a warm and fuzzy feeling for the resident and their family. You’ll also show prospects how you celebrate residents.
  • Holidays. Here are some examples. For Thanksgiving, ask residents to share their favorite family traditions. On Halloween, ask residents if they’ve ever encountered a ghost or haunted house. You get the idea. Consider venturing beyond traditional holidays and focus on creating stories around things like National Hot Dog Day or National Ice Cream Month in July.
  • Day-in-the-life stories. Follow a resident around for a day in your community and highlight the happy moments.
  • Timelapse videos of events, like decorating the Christmas tree or how the gardens change from spring to fall.

Regarding story length, remember that no one expects a novel or movie. Shorter posts typically get better engagement on Facebook.

What do we mean by short? HubSpot says 40 characters or fewer. If you’re about to say it’s impossible to share a good story at that length, consider the famous six-word short story attributed to HemingwayFor sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

BOOM. That little story, which weighs in at 33 characters, delivers one heck of an emotional punch. Now, we’re not suggesting that you must stay under 40 characters. But you should aim for no more than a couple of sentences. Do your best to keep your post under 200 characters (at which point the text gets cut off, and people need to click to “see more”).

How can you keep it short and sweet while still delivering a compelling story? Here are some strategies.

Provide a super-short story, like Hemingway’s, but illustrate it with a pic or two.

 

  • EXAMPLE: Meet Mary. She loves quilting, cats, and a dry martini with three olives. Cheers!

o   Make sure you include a picture of Mary holding up her martini.

 

Offer a cliffhanger that entices people to click into a longer piece of content.

 

  • EXAMPLE: Meet Mary. She loves quilting, cats, and a special libation that she swears has kept her 87 years young. Find out what it is in our latest Resident Spotlight.

o   Link to a narrative about Mary on your website.

 

Let videos tell the stories.

  • EXAMPLE: Mary, our newest resident, reveals the drink she can’t live without.

o   Include a short video where Mary is toasting with her friends.

Videos are incredibly helpful in telling stories. Plus, videos boost engagement. (People spend half their time on Facebook watching videos.) Videos don’t need to be super long (think one to two minutes max), and they don’t need to be professionally shot, either.

Encourage residents and staff to keep their smartphones handy and share raw footage with the marketing department (here’s how to foster and reward this behavior). With an intuitive editing app like InShot, you can edit the raw footage into a compelling video.

Instagram

Instagram caters to a much younger demographic than Facebook. According to Hootsuite, 85% of IG users are under 45. You might be thinking, why bother? Well, nearly 16% of Instagram users are between 35 and 44, and 8% are between 45 and 54. Many of those users have aging parents and will likely be involved in the decision-making process when Mom and Dad consider moving to senior living.

The bottom line: Instagram is still an excellent place to share content, as long as you remember that you’ll most likely be talking to adult children rather than seniors themselves.

Instagram Storytelling Tips for Senior Living

So the question becomes, how do you engage this younger demographic, one that might influence their parents and grandparents?

We recommend turning to time-tested hashtags on Instagram—and reinventing them.

For example, hashtags like #food (and its various synonyms) are among the most popular hashtags on Instagram. Food is also among the most common questions communities receive from prospects and their families. Plus, it’s one of the topics communities like to promote as a differentiator.

You see where we’re going with this, right?

Use #food as the starting point for your storytelling. No, we’re not suggesting you show shots of what’s for dinner and call it a day.

Brainstorm all the stories around food in your community. Questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s your chef’s story? Conduct a video interview with them. You could also do a timelapse video of the chef and their team preparing dinner. Or record another video of them doing something special, like decorating a cake for a resident’s birthday or making one of the most popular dishes in the community. And then—this is important—share the recipe in the caption.
  • Does your community have a vegetable garden? Do the residents help with gardening? What’s grown, and what dishes are made from the harvest? Take a bunch of pics and include an engaging caption.
  • Where are veggies and meats sourced from? If there’s an interesting story—fishmonger, local butcher, farm-to-table approach—highlight it.
  • What are residents’ favorite meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Do a breakfast montage where you shoot a video of favorite meals interspersed with quick snippets of residents saying what they love about that meal.
  • Do you host pasta parties, brunches, ice cream sundae bars, etc.? Lively reels with fun captions are always crowd-pleasers on IG.
  • How about celebrations? Record a video highlighting how the dining staff works with a resident and their family for special occasions—wedding anniversaries, birthday parties, Mother’s Day brunches, and so forth.

Remember, no other community has your chef, your recipes, or your dining staff. By focusing on a popular hashtag like #food, you’ll gain traction (over time), but you’ll also be able to stand out—in a good way—from the competition.

Note: We’re not suggesting you can’t have content highlighting other areas of your community. But if you create stories around the food in your community, you’ll capture people’s attention and boost engagement. And we’re not just talking about more likes, either. People often share and save food-related content, especially food demonstration videos and recipes.

Here are some more tips for this approach . . .

  • Don’t forget the captions. If you need inspo, check out how local restaurants and hotels approach writing fun captions on Instagram.
  • Don’t forget to repurpose your videos. You can use the videos on other platforms. Share them on TikTok and YouTube as well.
  • If your competitors join the #food action, that’s OK. Again, all communities will have different food tales to tell.

LinkedIn

Your community is only as good as your employees. The most successful communities usually have happy, loyal people who enjoy their profession and love working for your senior living community. If you have a rotating door of staff members coming and going, everyone will feel it (and not in a good way), including residents, families, and fellow employees.

While fixing employment challenges is beyond marketing’s purview, the marketing department can still help attract the right people to open roles within the community. This is where LinkedIn comes in.

LinkedIn Storytelling Tips for Senior Living

The stories you share on LinkedIn can provide a glimpse into what it’s like to work in your community. To get started, revisit your community’s mission and value statements. From there, share content that shows how employees embody these values.

For example, if compassionate care is one of your community’s values—and not just for residents but also employees—you could share the story about an employee who recently had a baby and the amount of parental leave they were given, the flexible “easing” back into their work schedule, and the adorable gift basket the community delivered to the new parent and baby.

Of course, everything you share has to be true, but you get the idea. By sharing a true story demonstrating your community’s values and how they affect employees, you’re showing prospective employees what they can expect. Showing instead of “telling” is the hallmark of good storytelling.

More storytelling ideas for LinkedIn:

 

  • Employee Spotlight. Just as you have resident spotlights, you can record short videos or write up short narratives on employees.
  • Employee Testimonials: Share written or video testimonials from employees about why they love working in your community. These personal stories can provide insight into your community’s positive work culture and supportive environment.
  • Professional Development and Training: Highlight stories of employees who have benefited from ongoing training and professional development opportunities. Share how these programs have helped them advance their careers and improve their skills, reflecting your community’s commitment to continuous learning.
  • Team Achievements: Showcase team achievements and collaborative projects that have significantly affected the community. This could include successful events, innovative programs, or any initiatives that highlight the teamwork and dedication of your staff.

Bottom line: Make sure you’re including compelling stories in your senior living social media marketing.

By tailoring your storytelling approach to fit each platform’s unique features and audiences, you can maximize engagement and highlight the vibrant life within your senior living community. These tips will help you create compelling content that resonates with current residents, prospective residents, and their families.

Here’s more helpful content on social media marketing in senior living:

Senior Living Search Engine Optimization 101

Photo for the article Senior Living Search Engine Optimization 101

We spend a lot of time diving into more advanced digital marketing topics on our blog. But sometimes, it helps to return to a beginner mindset. After all, if you’re new to digital marketing in the senior living space, you’re likely encountering all sorts of acronyms, like MQLs (marketing-qualified leads), TOFU (top of the funnel), and SEO (search engine optimization), all of which can be super overwhelming to newbies.

Today, we’re giving a crash course in senior living search engine optimization (SEO). Why are we focusing on this acronym rather than some of the others? Simple. Your website is the most important element in your senior living marketing efforts. If you don’t optimize your community‘s website for search, you might as well pack up and go home.

Below, we answer common beginner questions:

  • What exactly is SEO?
  • Why is senior living search optimization important?
  • What are the key components of effective SEO?
  • What is local SEO?
  • How do you measure SEO success?
  • What are some common SEO mistakes?
  • How can you stay updated with SEO trends?
  • What’s a smart next step for me to take?

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?

Simply put, search engine optimization—or SEO—involves enhancing your website’s visibility in online searches. The better visibility your website pages have in search results, the more likely you are to attract prospects to your website.

Why is senior living search engine optimization so important?

Today, most senior living prospects will begin their search online. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily searching for a community at the outset. Some people will be in education mode: What is senior living? How can I finance senior living? Others will be checking out review sites or “listening” to conversations friends and family are having on social media.

Eventually, though, serious prospects will venture onto senior living community websites. Some will land on these sites because of paid ads or third-party aggregators (like A Place for Mom), but plenty of others will enter them via organic search, provided the site has been optimized properly.

Note: As a rule of thumb, most of your website traffic should come from organic search (shoot for 70 to 75%).

What are the key components of effective SEO?

Effective SEO involves many moving parts, but the big ones to keep in mind are the following:

  • Producing high-quality content that’s easy for humans to read and for search engines to navigate (thanks to things like H1, H2, and H3 tags, good formatting with bolding and bulleted lists, and strong page titles)
  • Gaining “authority” through quality backlinks that occur organically or that you build as part of a larger link-building strategy
  • Focusing on the right mix of keyword phrases, including ones with decent search volume and relatively low competition
  • Making sure technical elements are up to snuff, like mobile responsiveness and site speed

And let’s not forget:

  • Optimizing images and videos: Use alt text and appropriate file names to ensure your media is engaging and SEO-friendly.
  • Local SEO: This is critical for senior living communities since people often perform “near me” searches. Effective local SEO includes an optimized Google Business Profile, listings in local directories, and plenty of recent reviews.

The above list only scratches the surface. A lot goes into effective SEO and local SEO. And here’s a secret: you’re never “done” optimizing a website. It’s an ongoing process. You must monitor your site’s performance, stay updated on the latest trends, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Further reading

How do I measure the success of my SEO efforts?

To gauge how well your SEO efforts are paying off, track key metrics like organic traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rates (anonymous traffic to marketing-qualified lead [MQL] and MQL to sales-qualified lead). Tools like Google Analytics can provide valuable insights.

What are some common SEO mistakes to avoid in the senior living industry?

Don’t try to game the search engines. This won’t end well for you. Always write for humans first, search engines second. Write naturally and avoid keyword stuffing. Don’t underestimate the importance of mobile optimization or user experience. As mentioned above, SEO is an ongoing process—you’re never done.

How do I stay updated with the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes?

Follow reputable SEO websites (like Moz and Search Engine Journal), attend webinars, and participate in SEO forums.

Below are some additional resources to check out:

What’s a smart next step to take?

While digging into the ins and outs of SEO is an excellent first step, you might be wondering what your next step should be. We recommend getting an SEO audit like the one we offer. Our team lives and breathes SEO, so we’ll be able to tell you what’s working, what isn’t, and how to address issues.

5 Signs You Must Pivot Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

Photo of signs for the article 5 Signs You Must Pivot Your Senior Living Marketing Strategy

Nothing is more frustrating than spending precious budget and time devising and deploying your digital marketing strategy, only to experience “meh” results.

But the analytics don’t lie. If the results aren’t there, you must react. Here’s how.

5 signs you need to pivot your senior living marketing strategy

Sign #1: Most of your website traffic isn’t coming from organic search

70 to 75 percent of your website traffic should come from organic search.

Why? Well, leads from organic search have self-identified that they’re interested in (or need) senior living. (In other words, they want to hear what you have to say.) Plus, organic search traffic is free.

Running pay-per-click ads can be an effective marketing strategy, but the cost-per-lead can be expensive. For example, the cost per lead for memory care often costs $400 or more. Paid search traffic should be part of the mix, but the bulk of your website traffic should come from organic search.

⮚      WHAT TO DOPerforming a website audit is a smart first step. The audit can provide a solid overview of what’s working and what isn’t, allowing you to prioritize what to fix first.

Sign #2: You have tons of leads, but they’re not converting

Not all leads are created equal. Having tons of leads isn’t necessarily better than having a smaller number of targeted leads that are much more likely to convert.

⮚      WHAT TO DO: In this case, performing an SEO audit can be an excellent place to start. Doubling down on SEO efforts, targeting keyword phrases, and paying attention to local SEO (including the all-important “near me” searches) can be a fantastic way to increase targeted traffic. Note: You might see overall traffic numbers go down. Don’t panic. As long as conversions go up, you’re on the right track.

Sign #3: You have plenty of targeted traffic and leads, but conversions still aren’t where they should be.

Usually this indicates an issue with how you’re handling leads. Remember, not all leads should be treated the same way. Most often, the culprit is poorly executed or non-existent lead scoring, meaning ALL leads are immediately served to the sales team.

Remember, people enter your website at different points in their journey. Some are at the very top of the funnel, seeking education. They might not make a decision for 18 to 24 months (this is especially true for independent living). If you serve those leads to the sales team, they won’t convert no matter what you offer because they’re simply not ready.

⮚      WHAT TO DO: Revisit how you score and segment leads. That’s the first step. Then, you’ll want to create long-term nurturing campaigns for the marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). The goal is to nurture MQLs as they make their way down the sales funnel and help them convert into sales-qualified leads when they say they’re ready.

Sign #4: You have excellent conversions-to-tour but not tour-to-deposit

It’s easy to think this is a sales problem. After all, marketing has done its part by delivering qualified traffic that converts into tours. So, what gives?

A few things could be going on:

  • The marketing messages don’t match reality on the ground. You need to market the community that exists, not the one you and your team wished existed.
  • The personas you’re targeting don’t reflect the people who live in the community. While personas are fictional representations of ideal residents, the work that goes into developing them should be based on real people, a.k.a. happy residents who love your community. You might be attracting the personas that you made up based on hunches instead of focusing on accurate personas based on actual residents.
  • You don’t have a post-tour communication plan. You might think this task is on sales and that marketing did its job by delivering the leads. But why not work together? Marketing can create an automated email nurturing cadence to complement the ongoing sales outreach and follow-up.

Marketing and sales alignment is critical; there should be an overlap between the two. The sooner both sides see and accept this fact, the better.

⮚      WHAT TO DO: Audit your messaging, personas, AND post-tour communications. Does anything feel like a bait-and-switch? Are post-tour prospects left hanging and wondering what to do next? Are the people you’re attracting to tours the complete opposite of the types of folks who thrive in your community?

Sign #5: You know many things aren’t working, but you’re overwhelmed, feeling tons of pressure from the bosses, and don’t know what to do first

We hear this one a lot. The C-suite is asking marketing teams to do more with less budget, and then it gets annoyed when you’re not delivering leads to sales. Or maybe the sales team is being cranky and unhelpful. Or perhaps you’ve been tasked with managing marketing, even though your specialty is more on the sales end.

⮚      WHAT TO DO NEXT: Consider working with an outside marketing agency specializing in senior living. The right agency can help you identify the issues, create a plan for addressing them, and help you achieve the results you (and the bosses) want. Here’s what to look for in a senior living marketing agency, including common traps to avoid. Hint: We can help. Our specialty is creating senior living marketing strategies that get quantifiable results.

Pivoting your senior living marketing strategy isn’t a sign of failure

Your marketing strategy should be dynamic and responsive to data-driven insights. Recognizing the signs that a pivot is necessary and taking proactive steps can help you compete better and achieve the desired results.

And if you need help doing any of the above, give us a shout.

Content Creation Best Practices: How to Nail Your Voice & Tone

Photo of a female Female for the article Content Creation Best Practices: How to Nail Your Voice & Tone

Have you ever been on a company’s Facebook page, clicked over to its website, and then wondered if you were in the right place because it sounded “off”? The problem probably had something to do with the company’s voice, tone, or both.

Now, if you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck we mean by voice and tone, don’t worry. Below, we explain exactly what you need to know about content creation best practices for voice and tone—and how to apply this knowledge when developing content for your community.

What’s the difference between voice and tone?

When we talk about voice, we’re talking about a brand’s unique personality. It’s how you communicate with your audience, no matter the medium. When someone reads your social media content, it should sound like the same voice as the content on your website, emails, print ads, etc.

Why is this so important? Well, a consistent voice will help people remember your brand—and recognize it when they encounter it again. An inconsistent brand voice can create a disconnect in the reader’s mind. (They might even question if they’re in the right place!)

OK, now let’s talk about tone.

Tone is like an emotional dial that you can turn up or down, depending on the situation. For example, if you’re writing content about something serious—like signs of dementia to watch for—the tone will be much more somber than the tone you’d use to recap a Mardi Gras celebration.

Bottom line: Your brand voice should be consistent across all content and marketing channels. Tone will change, depending on the situation.

How do you define a senior living community’s brand voice and tone?

Developing a brand voice for your community involves two key components:

  • Revisiting your community’s mission and values
  • Knowing your ideal residents inside and out

Revisiting your community’s mission and values

Do a deep dive into your mission and values. These core principles should guide how you communicate with your audience. For example, is your brand all about providing compassionate care? Or do you emphasize a vibrant, active lifestyle? Does your community pride itself on treating employees exceptionally well since that will translate to a positive experience for your residents?

Understanding these elements will help you craft a voice that aligns with your community’s identity.

Knowing your ideal residents inside and out

Hopefully, you’ve done persona development work to understand your ideal residents—who they are, what they care about, and what content resonates with them. Your ideal residents will reveal the type of voice your brand must embody. Here are some examples to consider:

⮚      An older community that doesn’t have the latest amenities or flashiest apartments but does have an excellent, long-term staff that everybody raves about might define its voice as warm, homey, authentic, and caring.

⮚      An active adult community catering to the 55+ crowd in a busy metro area might define its brand voice as cosmopolitan, energetic, and positive.

⮚      A community focused on memory care and assisted living, where the average age of the residents is 80, might have a helpful, compassionate, and straightforward brand voice.

While tone typically depends on context, offering notes about tone strategy can also be helpful. For example, if your community offers luxury residences, and your tone is ultra-sophisticated, you might have a note indicating that content should avoid hyperbolic language or exclamation points since this would feel off-brand.

Ideally, you’d provide examples of acceptable tone and examples that didn’t hit the mark—and how to rewrite them to satisfy the tone requirement.

Where should you record this info about your community’s voice and tone?

You’ll add this information to your brand style guide (sometimes called a brand book or brand bible), which will also include information and instructions on things like . . .

✔    Audience
✔    Brand elements
✔    Brand story
✔    Brand typography
✔    Color palette
✔    Image guidelines
✔    Imagery
✔    Iconography
✔    Logo usage

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the above are the essential elements in most brand books.

The voice and tone section doesn’t need to be long. You might provide a paragraph or two that discusses both (including lists of adjectives) followed by examples since those are critical for demonstrating the voice and tone you’re trying to achieve.

Anyone involved in content creation should have access to the brand book, from marketers to designers, full-time writers to freelancers. Encourage everyone on the team to run their creative against a simple
“voice and tone” checklist:

  • Is the content aligned with our brand’s voice?
  • Does the tone match the context of the message?
  • Am I using any verboten words, phrases, or punctuation?
  • Can I strengthen the creative to be even more on-brand?

See? It doesn’t need to be complicated. But having that gut check at every pass will help ensure the voice and tone hit the mark.

Does your community’s brand need some TLC?

Most senior living communities are treading water in the “sea of sameness,” so developing a strong brand voice can help differentiate your community. We love helping our clients do exactly that. Get in touch, and let’s talk about your community’s brand identity.

Want to dive deeper into branding, voice, and tone? Here’s more helpful reading:
 
⮚      Senior Living Branding Mistakes to Avoid – Senior Living SMART
⮚      5 Strategies for Powerful Senior Living Branding – Senior Living SMART
⮚      Brand Voice: What It Is, Why It Matters – Sprout Social
⮚      Creating Your Brand Voice: A Complete Guide – HubSpot
⮚      How to Define Your Brand’s Tone of Voice (+ Template) – Semrush

Senior Living Social Media: User-Generated Content 101

Photo of seniors for the article Senior Living Social Media: User-Generated Content 101

Battling the “sea of sameness” is something most senior living communities struggle with. How do you differentiate your community from the one down the street or the next town over when you’re essentially selling the same thing?

Enter user-generated content (UGC).

User-generated content includes anything created voluntarily by residents, their families, or staff. Think testimonials, reviews, photos, and videos.

And guess what? UGC is effective. A 2023 survey from EnTribe notes the following impressive findings:

✔    Nine out of ten participants preferred brands that highlight content from real customers.
✔    A significant majority, 86 percent, reported greater trust in brands that feature user-generated content over those that rely on influencer promotions.
✔    Eighty-two percent of respondents said they would be more likely to buy products or services from brands incorporating user-generated content into their marketing strategies.

Bottom line: UGC is so influential because it’s authentic. People appreciate and trust authenticity.

But UGC offers another important benefit: It can help differentiate your community from the sea of sameness. Since user-generated content is specific to your community, people won’t see the same content on another community’s website or social media channels.

So now the question becomes, how can you encourage people to create and share this content? This article aims to explore that question.

Let’s get to it!

7 tips that will help you generate great user-generated content

Tip #1: Create spaces for people to share their content

Fostering a great UGC strategy begins with having a solid social media strategy overall. Audit your current platforms and make sure everything is current and on-brand. You should also share engaging content and actively encourage follows from prospects, residents, family, and staff. After all, why would someone want to share content with your channels if the places feel like ghost towns?

Tip #2: Leverage hashtags

People love using hashtags in their social media content. However, hashtags also serve a practical purpose: They can help you categorize and find user-generated content.

Consider creating a memorable hashtag that reflects your community’s values. Display the hashtag prominently around the community and include it on brochures, ads, and billboards. Doing so will encourage people to use the hashtag and allow them to search for and see other user-generated content with the same hashtag.

Tip #3: Hold contests or social media challenges

One effective way to encourage UGC is through social media challenges (also known as hashtag challenges or contests).

For example, you could promote a photo contest themed around #GardenDelights. In this contest, you invite residents to share and tag pictures of their favorite spots around your grounds. This would foster community interaction while also highlighting your community’s beauty.

Want to boost the engagement further? You could pick three of the best shots, re-post them on your social media channels, and ask people to vote for their favorite. The winner gets a prize.

Tip #4: Make it easy for residents to share content

Most of us have gone to dinner with people who must photograph their meal and post it to Instagram. No doubt, some residents might want to do the same with the lovely meals your chef creates. The issue? Some folks might not know how to upload their pic to social media.

To combat this problem, consider holding frequent smartphone workshops in your community to help residents learn how to take pics, record videos, and upload their content (with the all-important hashtags). Provide devices that residents can use, like tablets, and keep them in places where people congregate or where you hold events.

⮚      PRO TIP: Create a cool program inviting local high school students to teach residents about technology. Check out this news story where one community did exactly that.

Tip #5: Create a straightforward process for reviews

Reviews are probably the most powerful form of user-generated content. When people shop around, they look at online reviews to learn about other people’s experiences.

When it comes to reviews, people want to see:

  • Recent reviews. If your most recent review is six months old, that will give people pause.
  • Mostly positive reviews. Notice our use of the word “mostly.” Savvy shoppers don’t expect perfection. In fact, a community with only glowing five-star reviews will feel suspect. Don’t fret over the occasional three-star reviews. These come with the territory. Be mindful of how you respond to two- and one-star reviews (because people will be watching how you respond).
  • Authentic reviews. People are savvy and can spot fake reviews.

Asking for reviews is an ongoing task, but marketing automation can help. Emails and text reminders can be scheduled to go out at different points in the post-deposit process. Make it easy for people to leave reviews. Include direct links to the site or sites where you’re seeking them.

You can also ask for reviews in newsletters, during family events, or by setting up a “review station” with a tablet ready to go in your lobby. Be proactive in managing these reviews by responding to them, thanking the reviewer, and addressing concerns.

Tip #6: Host live social media events

Live events are a fantastic way to generate immediate engagement. Consider hosting live Q&A sessions, virtual tours, or live-streamed community events. These activities allow for real-time interactions, comments, and shares, which will help spread the word about your community. Promote these events so that you have a good turnout and identify moderators to manage the interactions smoothly.

Tip #7: How to feature UGC on your social media channels

When it comes to using user-generated content, be mindful of the following:

  • Always ask for permission before sharing residents’ content.
  • Credit the original creator, whether it’s a resident, family member, or staff member.
  • Create a dedicated section on your website for resident stories and photos.

Once you have a collection of awesome UGC, plan to repurpose it across your marketing channels. For example, you could feature a snippet from a compelling review in your brochures or on a print ad.

Show us how you use UGC in your senior living marketing!

Integrating user-generated content into your community’s social media strategy will boost engagement while making your community feel authentic. We’d love to hear how you use and encourage user-generated content. Share your stories with us on our LinkedIn page.

If you’re looking for more personalized advice, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let us help you make your senior living community shine online.

Photo of seniors for the article: Why Customer Experience Marketing in Senior Living Matters

Why Customer Experience Marketing in Senior Living Matters

Photo of seniors for the article: Why Customer Experience Marketing in Senior Living Matters

All senior living communities sell the same thing—the same levels of care, the same amenities, and the same floor plans (more or less). The way to differentiate your community in this “sea of sameness” is by creating memorable experiences at key touchpoints for prospects, residents, and families.

This is known as customer experience marketing (CEM or CXM). Wondering where to begin? Don’t worry—we got you! Below, we share three areas to focus on:

● The Website Experience
● The Tour Experience
● The Resident Experience

Note: This post was inspired by a conversation that Debbie Howard (our CEO) had on her podcast with Jamison Gosselin, an executive-level marketing strategist with over two decades of senior living industry experience. In the podcast, Gosselin discussed interesting findings from an in-depth survey he conducted with thousands of adult children. We’re including quotes from the podcast. (Check out the full episode here.)

The Website Experience

Don’t make it hard for people to schedule a tour.

When we review senior living community websites, we often discover how hard it is to schedule a tour. Ideally, you should have a way for people to schedule a tour directly on your site. The online scheduler should be intuitive, easy to use, and provide email confirmation.

Howard says, “It’s funny. When I audit a senior living community’s website, I’m always interested—and a little bit scared—when I click on ‘schedule a tour.’ Because usually when you click ‘schedule a tour,’ guess what you don’t get to do? You don’t actually get to schedule the tour. There’s no date and time picker, which is what the person wants.”

People who schedule tours directly on community websites tend to be higher-intent conversions. So, not having a straightforward way to schedule a tour is a missed opportunity.

Don’t skimp on floor plans or photography.

Listen, it’s 2024, not 2004. We’ve come a LONG way in how we can show off floor plans. Take advantage of modern approaches and create a more engaging experience for site visitors.

Howard says, “People like the floor plans. Every time we do a heat map on a community’s site that has floor plans, the floor plans light up like Christmas. And yet so many communities are still using those silly, basic black and white architectural plans.”

The same is true with photography. Using stock images contributes to the “sea of sameness” feeling. People browsing various senior living websites often encounter the same stock images from one site to another. How are they supposed to keep your community straight?

Custom photography is one way. But don’t underestimate user-generated photos from your staff, residents, and their families.

Don’t avoid the pricing discussion.

Senior living is expensive, full stop. We know it. You know it. Prospects know it. The question is, how expensive? And can it work for the prospect’s budget? That’s what people want to know when they’re looking at senior living websites and hunting for pricing information.

Listen, we get why communities are hesitant about sharing pricing online. Slapping prices on your website might scare people away before they understand financing resources, like bridge loans or the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit.

However, not sharing pricing information doesn’t create a good website experience for visitors who crave that info. Instead of hiding from it, perhaps try leaning into it.

Higher education is an excellent model to follow. We don’t have to tell you that college tuition is expensive. We know it. You know it. Prospective students and their families know it. (Sound familiar?)

But colleges lean into the pricing discussion. Colleges are transparent about costs because helping people self-qualify helps everyone. But they don’t just list prices and leave it at that. They provide context. They demonstrate the value. They’re quick to point out information about financing and financial aid. (Here’s a great example.)

Think about how you might approach pricing if you leaned into it instead of turning away:

● You could discuss the ranges and what influences those ranges (like the size of the apartment home and its location).
● You could discuss how families successfully finance senior living. Include information and downloads that discuss long-term care insurance, how people can use life insurance policies to fund care, the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit, etc.
● You could include testimonials from residents and their families who “found a way” and discovered it was much more doable than they initially thought.

Gosselin says context is essential. “Some operators are doing it pretty well. Some are not,” he explains. “And I think we do need to be more transparent about not only what it is that we charge people in terms of amounts, but what does that mean in terms of the services and the amenities and the care and the apartment that people are getting as well.”

If you don’t include pricing info (or you do, but it’s vague), people might leave your site feeling frustrated, which isn’t the experience you want them to have.

The Tour Experience

Yay! You’ve gotten a prospect to convert into the almighty tour. If you work in marketing, you might think your job is done. If you work in sales, you might think you could give tours in your sleep by now.

Both ways of thinking are problematic.

Remember, the tour allows you to differentiate your community from the “sea of sameness.” How you act, how you connect, how you listen—all those things will have a significant impact on the person experiencing the tour. Sales directors must always bring their A-game.

Gosselin says, “How are you defining that initial experience on the tour? What’s your tour path? How do you involve residents and other team members in the community as part of the tour, and how do you just stand out . . . how does the experience of the tour allow you to differentiate yourself from all the other tours that they’re taking?”

Sales directors should:

Review all discovery notes about the prospect and their family. What’s the backstory? What activities are they interested in? Etc.
Alert the front desk that someone is coming for a tour. Share the name so the front desk person can greet the person warmly.
Pay attention to non-verbal gestures. The most effective sales directors know how to “read the room” and adjust accordingly. If the prospect is subdued and quiet, don’t go overboard with sunshine and rainbows. Meet the prospects where they are and build from there.
Never be afraid to deviate. You might have a typical tour routine. For example, maybe you always point out the hair salon. Well, if you’re giving a tour to a bald man, maybe skip the salon and bring him to where folks gather to play chess or show him where he can borrow books or DVDs. You get the idea.

Need inspiration? Check out our on-demand “Red Carpet Tours” webinar, which discusses planning and executing the perfect tour. It’s free.

Keep in mind that pre- and post-tour tasks matter, too.

For example, when was the last time you audited the communication workflow that goes out after someone books a tour? What does the confirmation email say? Is it personal? How about the reminder emails? Are they generic, canned emails that simply say, “Reminder, you have a tour on May 12”? Or do they sound personal?

Which email below would get you excited?

Option 1

Dear Anita,

Reminder that you have a tour scheduled with ABC Community on May 12 at 2:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you then.

Best,
(Community Sales Director)

Option 2

Dear Anita,

We can’t wait to meet you on May 12 at 2:00 p.m. and show you around our vibrant community.

The flowers in our garden are in full bloom (you can take some clippings home if you like), and I know some of the “girls” in our community meet for bridge at 3:00. (You had mentioned that’s one of your favorite activities, so I want to make sure I introduce you.)

Looking forward to seeing you!

Best,
(Community Sales Director)

Your post-tour communications should be equally warm and personal—whether it’s an email, a phone call, a home visit, or a combination of all of the above. Again, think of it as creating a rich customer experience rather than simply checking off a box.

The Resident Experience

This is a hot-button issue for all of us at Senior Living SMART. Again, you might think the marketing and sales teams are off the hook once a deposit has been placed. You’ve done your job of capturing a prospect and turning that prospect into a resident.

But here’s the thing: That fantastic experience you created on the website and during the tour needs to extend through the move-in—and beyond.

Post-deposit experience

Anticipating everything a person needs before moving in is a great way to create a positive post-deposit experience.

● Do they need movers? Make introductions to your list of trusted vendors.
● Do they need help downsizing? Provide tip sheets or services that can help.
● Do they know where to go the day they move in? Who will be greeting them? Where should people park? Etc.

Howard says this is where the marketing team can step in and help. “We can leverage marketing automation to deliver a welcome letter,” she explains, “or automatically send packing tips and downsizing tips and moving resources and what to expect on day one.”

Move-in experience

What’s your community’s plan for making it a wonderful experience? Howard says it’s important to have a plan for the first 30 days—and that it could make sense for marketing to pick up the slack once again.

“We know how critical the first 30 days are,” she says. “Every week, you can deliver a little delight and surprise to a new resident. It could be something simple, like passes to the dining room for your family members or a gift card for the salon. It’s not that difficult to deliver flowers on day 30 and celebrate that first month. Because guess what? If you create raving fans, they’re going to leave great reviews, and they’re going to recommend your community to their friends . . . I feel like there’s a whole missed opportunity post-sale and really continuing those positive customer experiences.”

Move-out experience

At some point, residents—even happy ones—will leave. They might move into a higher level of care, move out, or pass away.

You might be wondering what sort of “customer” experience you’re supposed to create for someone who’s no longer there. But remember, the past resident still has family and friends. What’s the experience been like for them?

⮚ Do you make it easy for family members to gather all their loved one’s belongings?
⮚ Do you simplify the process of paying any outstanding bills and finalizing paperwork?
⮚ Do you have a workflow that allows you to stay in touch with family members? Perhaps a newsletter or publication designed specifically for family members of past residents.

You’d hate for the great experience a resident had to be sullied by a sloppy or impersonal move-out experience that the adult child had to endure, right?

Remember, family members of past residents can still make excellent referrals.

Gosselin says, “We are not like your typical business-to-consumer industry where it’s very transactional . . . And the other side of it is because we’re serving people for a longer time, it’s not like going into a hotel room and checking out of a hotel room. You hopefully will move in, you’ll have a great experience, and then you’ll move on, pass away, move to a higher level of care, whatever it might be. But I would say that I think we as an industry need to think more creatively based on how our business operates. And I think we need to do a better job at that.”

Ready to elevate your customer experience marketing?

We can help! We have compelling and creative campaigns and programs that we can customize for your community so that you can wow prospects, residents, and their families at every touchpoint. Get in touch, and let’s discuss how we can help.

Kerri-Anne Pendergast headshot.

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Social Media Marketing

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Debbie Howard talks with Kerri-Anne Pendergast, Director of Social Marketing at Senior Living SMART, about the evolving landscape of social media marketing in the senior living industry. They discuss best practices, the importance of storytelling, the impact of social media on local search, and the role of AI in content planning. 

Topics Discussed and Key Points: 

  • Social Media Guide: Senior Living Smart has published an updated version of its social media guide, which emphasizes best practices for posting, content mix, and the significance of behind-the-scenes content in senior living communities.
  • Social Media for Advocacy, Engagement, and Trust: Social media plays a crucial role in building trust and engaging the audience, particularly in the senior living industry.
  • Importance of Storytelling: Moving away from cookie-cutter strategies to storytelling helps in showcasing the unique personalities and vibrant lifestyles of senior living communities.
  • Impact on Local Search: Social media, reviews, and Google Business Profiles are the trifecta for improving local search rankings and visibility for senior living communities.
  • The Role of AI: AI can assist in content planning and brainstorming, helping to streamline social media strategies without compromising originality.
  • Trends to Watch: Video content, storytelling, and increased marketing spend are key trends shaping the future of social media marketing in senior living.

Kerri-Anne’s Bio:

Kerri-Anne started as an intern for SLS in 2020 and now is the company’s Director of Social Media Marketing. With a passion for storytelling, Kerri-Anne helps convey the community’s voices and show their lifestyle and culture through their online presence. She holds responsibility for developing a high-level digital strategy on social platforms including events, content, and more to drive traffic and convert prospects into move-ins in the senior living space through organic campaigns.

Kerri-Anne also manages clients’ reputation management and local SEO. This includes things like citation management, review generation campaigns, and Google Business Profile audits and optimizations. Based in Boston, Kerri-Anne enjoys the four seasons by golfing, going to the beach, exploring the city, and skiing.

Transcript 

Book a call with Kerri-Anne 

– Senior Living SMART’s Social Media Guide and Infographics 

– Connect with Kerri-Anne Pendergast on LinkedIn 

Jamison Gosselin

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Consumer Perceptions of the Buyer Journey

Episode Summary:

In this episode of “Senior Living Marketing Perspectives,” host Debbie Howard from Senior Living Smart welcomes Jamison Gosselin, a 20-year senior living industry expert. First, Debbie and Jamison dive into SMASH survey findings about consumer perceptions of the buyer journey. Next, they continue on the topic by looking at what’s working in the industry, and what needs improvement. Then, the two shift the conversation to talk about social media and review sites and managing the promotional mix. Finally, they wrap up the podcast by touching on resident, employee, and professional experiences in the industry, as well as expanding the role of the marketing professional.

Topics Discussed and Key Points: 

  • Findings from the SMASH about consumer perceptions of the buyer journey in senior living
  • What’s working and what’s not working in the industry
  • Social Media vs. Review Sites
  • Managing the Promotional Mix
  • Experiences – Employee and Resident Satisfaction, Professionals, Advocacy, and Loyalty
  • Expanding the marketing professionals’ role in senior living organizations — e.g. the Marketing Mix

Jamison’s Bio:

Jamison Gosselin has served in and around the senior living business for more than 20 years in a variety of marketing, communications, and operations roles. Today, he works as an executive-level marketing strategist with B2C and B2B companies focused on seniors housing and multifamily assets.

Prior to his consulting work, Jamison developed business strategies and oversaw the execution of marketing, sales support, and communications in a variety of executive-level roles at leading companies. These companies include Sunrise Senior Living, Holiday Retirement, and Eclipse Senior Living. He also led marketing and communications at Argentum, a senior living trade association, and managed the senior living vertical business at G5, a digital marketing agency and SaaS company. Jamison got his career started at global telecommunications firm MCI (now part of Verizon) as a political action manager and later as a public relations manager at its headquarters in Washington DC.

Jamison has an MBA from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a BA in Political Science from The American University in Washington, DC. He also has a variety of marketing credentials from Duke University, George Washington University, and the Content Marketing Institute.

Connect with Jamison on LinkedIn

Transcript

Nancy Harhut

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Behavioral Science in Marketing

Episode Summary:

In this episode of “Senior Living Marketing Perspectives,” host Debbie Howard from Senior Living Smart welcomes Nancy Harhut, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of HBT Marketing. First, Debbie and Nancy dive into the connection between behavioral science and marketing, specifically in the senior living industry. Next, they explore the unique challenges that marketers face with customers and how using principles from behavioral science can be a solution. Finally, Debbie and Nancy discuss Nancy’s book, “Using Behavioral Science in Marketing” with some key takeaways that all marketers should consider.

Topics Discussed and Key Points: 

  • What is behavioral science and why should marketers be interested in it?
  • Is it hard to add behavioral science to marketing campaigns?
  • Examples of behavioral science principles, and how marketers might use them.
  • Testing different behavioral science tactics in marketing strategies.
  • Behavioral science may seem counterintuitive to some marketers – examples and reasons to embrace it.
  • Takeaways from Nancy’s book, “Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses”

Nancy’s Bio:

Getting people to take action is what Nancy is all about. Her specialty is blending best-of-breed creativity with behavioral science to prompt response.

She and her teams have won over 200 international and national awards for marketing effectiveness. Along the way, she’s helped generate $68 million in incremental revenue for Nationwide, establish seven controls for the GM Card, and create one of H&R Blocks’ most successful campaigns.

Recognized for her work in B2C, B2B, and nonprofit, Nancy’s been named one of the 10 Most Fascinating People in B2B Marketing, a Social Top 50 Email Marketing Leader, and a Top 40 Digital Strategist. A frequent speaker at marketing conferences, she’s shared her passion with audiences in London, Sydney, Moscow, Madrid, Stockholm, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Dubai, and all over the US, including several return engagements at SXSW.

Prior to co-founding HBT Marketing, Nancy held senior creative management positions with agencies within the IPG and Publicis networks. Kogan Page recently published her first book, Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses.

Connect with Nancy: 

Transcript