When consumers and prospective customers in your draw area hear your community’s name, what immediately comes to their mind?

This article was originally published on March 4, 2015 at Sage Age Strategies and is republished with permission.

When consumers and prospective customers in your draw area hear your community’s name, what immediately comes to their mind?

Do they think of a vibrant, socially engaging environment where residents are having fun and actively involved in a variety of enjoyable activities? Does your brand bring to mind theme parties, birthday celebrations, trips to interesting places, games and regular entertainment?

Does your brand conjure up images of an enriching lifestyle where residents are socially connected and regularly scheduled activities and events abound for their pleasure?

If not, you are missing out on a major influencer on senior living choices today!

An Active Lifestyle is Now a Primary Driver of Consumer Choice

The results of a recent national study by The University of Michigan on senior adults’ attitudes toward health and retirement, titled Growing Older in America: the Health and Retirement Study, showed that an active and engaging social life has become highly important for those seeking senior housing today. One of the study’s primary implications for senior living communities is that an appealing social setting is now a top priority for attracting new residents and retaining current ones.

Adrienne Mansfield Straub, award-winning Director of Client Services, Traditional & Online Media for Sage Age Strategies, says, “Today, vibrant life enrichment programs are an essential ingredient for attracting retirement-age adults and the burgeoning Boomer population. Senior living communities that emphasize a wide variety of socially engaging activities and lifestyle options can create a clear market advantage.”

Social Media Shouts Out Your Lifestyle Advantages

Shout OutShe continues, “One of the most effective ways for communities to optimize their active social environments is by bringing them to life via social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Through the regular use of photos and videos of residents enjoying life, social media showcases your lifestyle programming and puts an engaging human face on your community by conveying the fun, excitement and smiles of your residents in words, pictures and videos.

“Social media provides a visual, real-time medium that promotes the very important bonding elements of personal interaction, engagement and connectivity with your community. A well-conceived social media strategy can effectively differentiate your brand, attract more leads and turn them into move-ins.”

How Social Media Boosts Your Brand and Your Business Results

The value of social media for businesses today was recently substantiated by the prestigious Forbes.com in the article, “The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing.” According to the article, social media has become an essential part of a comprehensive business strategy today. For example, 92 percent of marketers now claim that social media marketing is important for their business, with 80 percent indicating their efforts increase traffic to their websites.

The article specifically enumerates the various ways that social media marketing offers enormous potential for increasing your sales and improving business success, including:

  • Increased brand recognitionEvery opportunity you have to share your content and increase your visibility is valuable. Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and relevant information. This is important because it simultaneously makes you easier and more accessible for new customers, and makes you more familiar and recognizable for existing customers.

  • Improved brand loyaltyAccording to a report published by Texas Tech University, brands that engage on social media channels enjoy higher loyalty from their customers. The report concludes, “Companies should take advantage of the tools social media gives them when it comes to connecting with their audience. A strategic and open social media plan could prove influential in morphing consumers into being brand loyal.”

  • More opportunities to convertEvery post you make on a social media platform is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you’ll simultaneously have access to new customers, recent  and old customers, and you’ll be able to interact with all of them. Every blog post, image, video, or comment you share is a chance for someone to react, and every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion.

  • Higher conversion ratesSocial media marketing results in higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. Perhaps the most significant is its humanization element; the fact that brands become more humanized by interacting in social media channels. Social media is a place where brands can act like people do, and this is important because people like doing business with other people; not with companies.

Additionally, studies have shown that social media has a 100 percent higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing, and a higher number of social media followers tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand (a key factor in senior living), representing social proof. As such, simply building your audience in social media can improve conversion rates on your existing traffic.

  • Higher brand authorityInteracting with your customers regularly is a show of good faith for other customers. When people go to compliment or brag about a product or service, they turn to social media. And when they post your brand name, new audience members will want to follow you for updates. The more people that are talking about you on social media, the more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users.

  • Increased inbound trafficWithout social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people already familiar with your brand and individuals searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile you add is another path leading back to your site, and every piece of content you share on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor. The more quality content you share on social media, the more inbound traffic you’ll generate, and more traffic means more leads and more conversions.

  • Decreased marketing costsAccording to Hubspot, 84 percent of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not a significant investment for a channel as large as social media. If you can lend just one hour a day to developing your content and syndication strategy, you could start seeing the results of your efforts. Even paid advertising through Facebook and Twitter is relatively cheap.

  • Better search engine rankingsSEO is the best way to capture relevant traffic from search engines, but the requirements for success are always changing. It’s no longer enough to regularly update your blog, ensure optimized title tags and meta descriptions, and distribute links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines now calculate their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor.

  • Richer customer experiencesSocial media, at its core, is a communication channel like email or phone calls. Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to publicly demonstrate your relevant value and enrich your relationship with your customers. (As previously noted, this is especially valuable today in the case of active life enrichment and social engagement programming.)

  • Improved customer insightsSocial media also gives you an opportunity to gain valuable information about what your customers are interested in and how they behave, via “social listening”. For example, you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content syndication lists based on topic and see which types of content generate the most interest — and then produce more of that type of content.

Adds Ms. Mansfield Straub, “As part of a fully integrated marketing strategy, including an ongoing content-rich blog, a sustained social media marketing initiative provides the ideal way to attract prospects, engage them with your brand, build trust and enhance your occupancy.” 

Bill McClain