About the COVID-19 Q&A Senior Living Expert Series:
While working with over 300 communities across the country, we’ve diligently been monitoring the changes that are happening rapidly — daily — during this quickly shifting marketplace. We’re all feeling the effects of the “new normal” on community operations, sales and marketing, but quick action is needed. Trust us when we say this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve been working around the clock to help our communities pivot to the right methods in order to sustain business, and this video series is a direct output of that thought leadership. Each week, we’ll be speaking with a new senior living marketing or sales expert as we explore ways in which you can steer your community’s occupancy efforts and facilitate change as we weather this storm. Together.
Expert: Marisa Farris, Senior Manager of Social Media
Q. How have you seen user behavior shift across social platforms as your team has been managing the COVID-19 outbreak?
A. There were different phases or roll outs of content and messaging around COVID and even at the height of this pandemic, we have seen users absolutely flood to our community pages because they want to stay updated on the latest. Social platforms are designed with this behavior in mind.
Q. Is there a tactic or two that you have adopted to pivot toward current needs of residents and their families?
A. In many cases, we have been encouraging the shift to more organic means of communication and focusing more on platforms that offer a better 1:1 virtual connection. We have been encouraging clients to take advantage of the tools within some of these social platforms such as Facebook Live, Facebook Stories, Facebook Groups, Instagram Stories, etc. Facebook Live offers a way for communities to broadcast activities or events virtually to audiences online. Facebook Groups offer a way for communities to create a public or private space for residents, staff, family members to connect with one another.
Q. You’re the expert here, in social media strategy for senior living. What is one piece of advice that you are giving clients today?
A. Give the people what they want! Especially now, people are craving answers and reassurance. Even in these times of uncertainty, communities can provide a beacon of hope through what they choose to share online.
Knowing a large focus of this pandemic is on our senior population, it’s important to also consider the most appropriate channels to relay information.
I’ll note as well that I think it’s important to consider the quality of your communication versus the quantity. I think the assumption in some cases is that any communication is better than no communication. I would challenge that a bit, and say that audiences will appreciate a thought-out plan versus a reactionary flood of content.
Q. Is there anything you’ve seen in other industries either during this time, or prior to, that we should try and learn or adopt in senior living?
A. Prior to my time at Attane, I did quite a bit of social media marketing for some pretty sizable global non-profit organizations. If you remember back to 2018 when Hurricane Erma and Harvey hit the southern-most regions of our country, people were looking for answers and hope. So imagine trying to solicit for donations! I found that the real selling point for donors was when we were able to tell real stories about the impact of their dollar; like showing behind-the-scenes content and the not so glamorous parts of the disaster. People really appreciated the candid nature of our messaging. I think we can replicate that approach for a lot of different scenarios, but especially for COVID-19.
Q. I have one last question for you this afternoon. Do you see this having a lasting impact on social media management for communities? Is there anything that you have adjusted that could stick around long-term, after the pandemic has subsided?
A. Absolutely – I think there will be both positive and negative implications long-term depending on how communities manage their digital presence. I think these trying times are sort of a test for communities – a survival of the fittest, if you will. Senior living communities definitely have a microscope over them and people are watching to see how they will handle themselves in this situation.
We have seen a pretty major increase in our social audience sizes to include a super engaged ACI demographic (or the adult children and their families). For communities taking a positive approach to content, we are seeing users share their positive sentiment to their network of friends. This organic referral will most definitely have an impact long-term. The same can be said for any communities not handling this situation well. And unfortunately, negative sentiment can often travel further than positive.
I’ll also note that virtual connection is here to stay – even after this pandemic. For those who didn’t take advantage of the tools and resources available for 1:1 communication prior to COVID, they will definitely see it’s benefit now.