Senior woman on couch with headphones creating a TikTok

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: Is It Time for TikTok?

Last month, we talked with Kerri-Anne Pendergast, our Director of Social Media Marketing, to discuss her approach when she works with our clients here at Senior Living SMART.

Today, we invited her back to address a burning question so many senior living communities have: Is it time to get on the TikTok bandwagon?

It’s an understandable question given how the platform exploded onto the scene in the U.S. in 2018 and rose to the be the most downloaded app in 2022, according to Statista. Further, TikTok boasted 755 million users in 2022 worldwide, 6.4% of which are 55 and older.

So, is TikTok worth all the hype? Like so many things in life, it depends. In this case, it depends on the audience you’re trying to reach. TikTok has made everything from beauty brands to authors “TikTok famous.” But what about senior living?

Let’s get Kerri-Anne’s take.

If you had to describe TikTok in a nutshell, what would you say?

TikTok is a fun social media platform that’s all about short-form videos. The audience is huge, but there are many niches, like BookTok, GamerTok, BusinessTok, etc.

What are some reasons why communities should consider TikTok?

It’s engaging, fun, and easy to go viral, thanks to TikTok’s algorithm (you don’t necessarily need to have a ton of followers or be a big brand to have a video take off).

Even better? This article from Insider discusses how participating in social media trends on TikTok might be good for seniors’ mental health. The same article points out that the reaction to TikToks featuring seniors has been overwhelmingly positive, too.

Over the last year or so, we’ve seen more senior living communities dipping their toes into TikTok. Here are some examples of popular TikToks featuring senior living residents.



Our halftime show > Rihanna’s halftime show 💃🪩🏈🤍🎶🎤 #seniorlivingcommunity #halftimeshow #SuperBowl #rihanna #fyp

♬ original sound – Brian Esperon


Pew Pew 😂😂❤️ #seniors #seniorliving #seniorcommunity #foryou #fypシ #nerf #rivergrove #nursinghome #residentsoftiktok #rehabfacility #activitiesdepartment #activitydirector #lovemyjob

♬ Mission Impossible Theme (Movie Trailer Mix) – Dominik Hauser


Our visit with @ourseniormoments was so much fun. What is your favorite age so far? | #age #aging #seniorliving #grandmasoftiktok #interview

♬ See You Again (Piano Arrangement) – Alexandre Pachabezian

Why should communities hold off on TikTok, at least for now?

The two main reasons to hold off on TikTok:

  • Your residents don’t want to participate. (Remember, you should always get explicit consent from the people appearing in your videos.)
  • You don’t have someone in the community to create the videos. (There’s not much your marketing company can do to help with this. You need boots on the ground.)

In your opinion, what needs to happen for a community to develop a successful TikTok presence?

The recipe for success isn’t much different than it is for other social media platforms, with one exception—as we mentioned, TikTok is all about video, particularly short-form video. Only recently has TikTok allowed videos up to 10 minutes in length. Before, it was all about quick, entertaining vids in under 60 seconds (and these short videos are still hugely popular).

But getting back to best practices. If you want to create a successful TikTok presence for your senior living community, you must:

  • Get consent and buy-in from residents appearing in your videos.
  • Post regularly.
  • Let the audience get to know your residents.
  • Engage with the audience, answer their questions, and respond to their comments.
  • Use trending music.
  • Keep up with other popular trends.
  • Have fun with it. (Because this WILL show in the final product.)

Do you think TikTok will become a must-have platform for senior living communities in the next five years?

In the near future, TikTok will continue to skew young. But that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a presence for your senior living community, provided you have the interest and bandwidth.

TikTok will continue to be a great place for showing off your community’s lifestyle. But it won’t be the platform that helps you promote content or converts people into tours and move-ins. At least, not yet.

Facebook will likely remain the key social media platform for most senior living communities. Facebook is currently the number one social media platform in the U.S. and by a comfortable margin (74.2% of adults use it; the next platform after that is Instagram at 60.5%)

Of course, things will likely evolve over the next five to ten years, especially as younger Baby Boomers and Gen X near retirement age. So, like everything else, stay tuned.

If a senior living community had to focus on one or two social media platforms (TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook), which ones do you recommend?

Focus on Facebook. It’s very well-rounded and fits the demographics better.

And here’s what you need to remember: TikTok isn’t the only place to consume short-form content. When TikTok took off, the other platforms took note. So today, Facebook and Instagram have Reels, and YouTube recently launched YouTube Shorts (videos that are sixty seconds or less).

In other words, people now have more options for consuming short-form content—they don’t need to go to TikTok. If you’ve already built a strong presence on Facebook and YouTube, try adding short videos to those platforms before starting a TikTok account.

Pro tip: If you create one short video, you can republish it in multiple places for expanded reach.

Is there anything else you want to ensure we convey about TikTok for senior living?

If you use it, post fun videos regularly and let the audience get to know your residents. Engage with the audience. If they have questions, do a TikTok that answers those questions. Respond to comments. And most importantly, have fun with it.

Go in with reasonable expectations. Remember, you won’t use it to promote content or schedule tours. Instead, you’ll use it to capture your community’s unique vibe. Keep it fun, light, and engaging.

Need fresh eyes on your social media marketing strategy?

We can help! Get in touch, and let’s discuss social media.


Senior Living Social Media Marketing - Our Approach

Senior Living Social Media Marketing – Our Approach

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.

Senior Living Social Media Trends

What’s Trending in Senior Living Social Media Marketing

What’s hot right now in senior living social media marketing? Below, we’re sharing three trends we’re excited about, along with some mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Trend #1: More Interest in Pinterest

If someone were to ask you what platform you think of when you hear the words “social media,” Pinterest probably isn’t the one that comes to mind. After all, it’s not a platform that dominates news cycles. While you can probably identify bigwigs at Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) and Twitter (Elon Musk?!), you’d probably be hard-pressed to name Pinterest’s CEO, right? (For the record, it’s Ben Silbermann.)

And yet, Pinterest keeps chugging along—and has enjoyed increasing use among older adults.

According to 2021 stats from Statista, 38% of U.S. adults aged 50 to 64 use Pinterest, and 18% of U.S. adults over 65 use the platform. Compare that to 73% to 50% respectively for the same age groups for Facebook. While Facebook remains the top social media platform for people over 65, Pinterest comes in at a strong third, according to this article (YouTube is second).

Happily, we’re seeing more and more senior living communities embrace Pinterest, which is SMART. Because why wouldn’t you develop content where your prospective buyers are hanging out?

Trend #2: Did Someone Say YouTube?

YouTube is HUGE for seniors. In fact, nearly 50% of adults over 65 use YouTube. And don’t forget this nugget: Google owns YouTube, which means you can get an even bigger bang for your social media buck. Optimized videos DO come up in search—and some searchers prefer videos to articles.

So investing in a strong senior living social media marketing plan for YouTube could have many benefits:

  • Increase engagement among target personas who enjoy using the platform
  • Increase visibility for your brand
  • Increase traffic from your YouTube videos to your site

Plus, you can use your YouTube videos in multiple ways. You can share them via other social media platforms, like Facebook, or use them in other media, like emails or embedded in your blog posts and other website pages.

We’re hoping more senior living communities jump on the YouTube bandwagon. While many have some video content on YouTube, communities need to be creating videos on a regular basis to get the biggest ROI. Luckily, this is easier today than ever before—armed with nothing more than a smartphone, ring light, lavalier mic, and a free editing app (like InShot), today’s marketing teams can create quick videos on the fly. (The challenge is getting over the fear of this DIY method!)

Check out what one of our awesome clients, Ingleside Senior Living, is doing with its YouTube channel. They post videos regularly. They post a variety of videos. They have separate playlists for each community (which is a smart way to approach this issue). And their videos are excellent.

We particularly love this “Meet Your Future Neighbors” video that’s racked up over 600 views. Notice how simple it is–no fancy production, no mics, everyday lighting.

Trend #3: Thinking Beyond Selling

At its simplest, marketing’s main job is to attract qualified leads and help turn those leads into move-ins. So it’s easy to think every marketing tactic has to be about selling, selling, selling. But social media is a different animal. It’s supposed to be social after all! If you’re constantly in sales mode, you’re going to turn people off.

The senior living communities that have the most success with social media are ones that think beyond selling. They relax and keep their feeds real. And here’s the thing: They’re reaping the benefits of this approach. Because oftentimes authentic, feel-good posts will provide lots of engagement and increased exposure for your brand. While harder to quantify, we’d argue that these things are just as important.

Luckily, more communities are taking this approach with their social media marketing. You might have heard about Wheatland Manor’s “Advice for the Younger Generations” campaign, where the community shares images of residents holding whiteboards with solid advice like “Get a job you enjoy” and “Play Uno with your grandma.” These images have gone viral and have racked up tons of likes.

One particular community of our client Senior Star, Senior Star at Wexford Place, has embraced the concept of “thinking beyond selling.” The community does an awesome job with its social media feeds by highlighting cool things residents do and by offering regular shout-outs to staff. Below is an example of a staff shout-out. Note the fabulous engagement!

Other smart ways to “think beyond selling”:

  • Share resident spotlights. For example, got veterans? Highlight them on Veterans Day. Got residents with green thumbs? Share pics of them tending to their gardens and flower boxes.
  • Share resident quotes/testimonials. These work great with the hashtag #TestimonialTuesday.
  • Share pics from all of your activities, large and small. Pictures and videos get tons of engagement.

Mistakes people are (still) making with their senior living social media marketing

Not all trends are good trends. Unfortunately, many senior living marketers are still making the following mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not having a sharp focus.

Trying to maintain a presence on every social media platform under the sun will never work. Why? Well, effectively managing multiple platforms is challenging unless you have a person on staff devoted entirely to this effort—and most communities don’t.

What happens next is predictable. The existing team will either end up diluting their efforts across the numerous platforms, or the team will give up altogether. And nothing is worse than a community’s social media channels going dark.

Thankfully, this trend is slowing down in favor of a NEW trend, which we refer to as “finding focus.” When you focus on two or three platforms that make the most sense for your personas, the better the results.

So how do you focus? Again, it goes back to knowing your community’s target personas and where they hang out online. And here’s the thing about social media—tastes will evolve. Ten years ago, it was all about Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest was just a baby, only a couple of years old.

The thing you need to remember: When it comes to social media, early adopters are usually younger people. While older people eventually follow, it takes time. Our point: Communities who try to maintain Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok probably won’t do as well as a community that focuses on two or three—say Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.

We know what you’re thinking . . . WHAT ABOUT TIKTOK? While it’s tempting to get on board the TikTok train, keep in mind that only 3.4% of TikTok users are over 65. You might argue, “Well, we’ll have an awesome presence for when older adults DO flock to TikTok.” Maybe. But there’s no guarantee that will happen—and definitely no guarantee it will happen any time in the next 2-3 years. Why invest resources into TikTok when you could put those resources to better use—like on a platform where your personas are actually hanging out?

Mistake #2: Not paying attention to responses . . . and results.

With social media, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. You’re so busy coming up with compelling content that you’re not spending any time analyzing results. And by “results,” we mean engagement.

  • What types of posts get the most likes, shares, and comments?
  • Can you glean anything about the days you post—or the times of day?
  • Are you using hashtags appropriately? (Using too many can be a turn-off for followers.)

In our experience with clients, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays tend to garner more engagement than weekdays, but of course, your mileage might vary. Another mistake communities make: Not posting enough. We recommend posting three to five times a week to keep audiences engaged. Again, pay attention to what works, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Finally, make sure you respond to people’s comments! If they’ve taken the time to comment on your content, the least you can do is like (or heart) their comment. Some comments, particularly reviews, warrant actual responses from you. For positive reviews, thank the person for sharing their experience. For negative reviews, tread carefully, but you should still acknowledge the person’s concerns. (Check out this article with tips on how to respond to reviews.)

Mistake #3: Treating your social media marketing strategy like a static “thing.”

Senior living social media marketing is a moving target, which can be frustrating for many marketing and sales teams. It’s tempting to get into a rhythm—and to stick with that rhythm FOREVER. But that’s not a smart long-term strategy.

What worked a year or two ago might not work today. At the same time, you don’t want to jump on the hot new platform (or what seems hot, anyway) while abandoning an effective strategy.

It’s a tightrope, for sure, but one that all successful marketing teams must learn to walk. Our advice: Pay attention to so-called trends. But more importantly, pay attention to what’s currently working for your feeds. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but let the results guide where you invest money and resources.

And know that things will change over time. Some platforms will fade in popularity while others will take their place. As Boomers age, your social media strategy will surely evolve since Boomers are much more active on social media than the 75+ crowd currently is. These are things to keep in mind as you strategize.

Want to rock your community’s social media channels, but you’re not sure what to do next?

You don’t need to go it alone. We help senior living communities develop engaging content that garners plenty of likes, shares, comments, and even leads. Let’s talk about your community’s social media needs.

Senior Living Social Media Marketing

Senior Living Social Media Marketing: Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve written extensively about the many benefits of senior living social media marketing and why you should include it in your overall marketing plan.

Today, however, we’re going to focus on common mistakes that senior living communities often make with social media—and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: You’re focusing on the wrong platforms for your personas.

Do you know what social media platforms your residents use? How about their family members? Never assume! While it’s true older adults do indeed use social media, the phrase “older adult” has a wide spectrum.

Are you catering mostly to seventy-year-olds in independent living? Or are you serving octogenarians who are straddling IL and AL? Or maybe you’re running an active adult community for people 62+? The social media experiences among these audiences will likely differ. But you won’t know for certain unless you regularly ask, survey, and keep track of people’s responses.

Once you start keeping track, it won’t take long before you see the clear platform “winners.” For example, you might learn that your personas spend most of their time on Facebook and YouTube, but hardly any time on Twitter. This is important intel. Because you’re missing your target if you waste time pouring money and resources into Twitter when the people you’re trying to reach aren’t using that platform.

Keep in mind that social media is also a moving target. Preferences will change over time as other platforms enter the playing field (or go in and out of favor) and as younger demographics come of age.

  • How to avoid this senior living social media marketing mistake: Keep track of the social media platforms your residents engage in. This can and should be part of your sales intake—and most definitely part of your new resident welcome campaign. Find out the social media platforms residents and their families frequent. Invite them to follow your community’s profiles on the corresponding platforms.

Mistake #2: You don’t have specific goals.

You need to know your goals so you can measure performance and ROI. Too often, communities “do social media” simply because everyone else is. That’s not a good enough reason!

Ask yourself this question: What’s the purpose of social media for your community? Are you trying to boost brand recognition? Are you mainly using it as a means to communicate with residents and their families? Are you trying to get more qualified traffic to your site?

You’ll likely have different goals for different social media platforms. For example, you might use LinkedIn as a way to connect with current employees and prospective employees. Or maybe you use Pinterest primarily as a way to share recipes from your executive chef.

  • How to avoid this senior living social media marketing mistake: Define your goals. Be specific. For example, your goal with Facebook might be to send a certain amount of traffic from the platform to your website and convert X percent into leads. Revisit your goals every quarter. Have you achieved your goals? If yes, define some new ones. If not, determine if you need to revise your goals or revise your strategy for achieving the goals.

Mistake #3: You don’t have a social media marketing strategy.

Once you know your goals for each platform you use, you can develop a strategy for each one as well. Read that sentence again! Yes, the best way to tackle senior living social media marketing is to have a specific strategy for each platform.

It makes sense when you think about it, right? For example, the way people engage with content on Facebook is quite different from the way folks play on Pinterest—or how they use Instagram or YouTube.

  • How to avoid this senior living social media marketing mistake: Having a content calendar and someone on your team who “owns social” can go a long way in making sure you post consistently—and according to the goals you have for each platform. And yes, we get it: Often the real “magic” of social media is when something is posted on the fly, like those random images or videos that are too good not to share. A social media coordinator can manage these last-minute requests while making sure your overall strategy remains intact.

Mistake #4: You don’t put the same effort into your social media content as you do with other marketing content.

Too often, we see communities get excited when they launch their social media presences, but over time, the content either gets stale, predictable, or worse—it becomes non-existent.

Creating great content for social media takes effort. Having a strong content calendar for each platform helps, but your social media team needs to always be thinking in terms of content creation—taking pics that will resonate with the audience, developing fun videos, coming up with meaningful surveys and contests—and that’s just the beginning.

Social media never takes a break—it’s always going, it’s always on. We’re not suggesting that you post 24/7, but your social media team has to have a 24/7 mentality, meaning that it needs to look for (and post!) awesome content outside of typical business hours. This might involve tasking someone with taking and posting pics from the Mother’s Day Tea that happens on a Sunday. Or capturing the gorgeous full moon as it rises above your property.

  • How to avoid this senior living social media marketing mistake: Make sure you’re not putting one person in charge of all things social media. Even if you have one social media coordinator, that person should have a team—or, at the very least, the freedom to tap helpers, as needed. For example, the social media coordinator can ask the activities assistant to take some pics during the Mother’s Day Tea and send them to the coordinator for posting.

Mistake #5: You don’t analyze the results.

Many communities ignore social media analytics beyond looking at “likes” or the follower count. But again, if you’re investing in senior living social media, you need to figure out if your investment is paying off.

  • How to avoid this senior living social media marketing mistake: Monitor traffic that comes from social media platforms—and determine what percentage of that traffic turns into leads and eventually move-ins. That’s the most important metric to pay attention to, but there are others. And good software like HubSpot can make it easy to see results via dashboards and reports that you set up once, but that continuously populate with info.

Need help avoiding the above mistakes? Let’s talk.

One of the best things you can do to enhance your social media efforts is work with an agency like ours. We can audit your current platforms, guide you on where you should be spending your time and budget, and work with your team on creating content and getting into a good rhythm. Then, your team can take it from there—or you can continue to have us manage your social media (or some combination). Interested? Let’s talk about your social media plans.