Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been front and center over the last few weeks. We can learn a lesson here.

By Steve Moran

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been front and center over the last few weeks in the Russian Election meddling scandal that is dominating the news cycle. Until yesterday, Zuckerberg had been noticeably absent in responding, generating additional criticism. One of the most interesting articles related to his apologies is this one at Fast Company: A Brief History of Mark Zuckerberg Apologizing (or Not Apologizing) for Stuff.

What You Say and What You Do

The big problem that Facebook has is that what they say they stand for and what they do, have substantive dis-harmony. At the end of the day, Facebook’s revenue is highly dependent on giving advertisers, including senior living, the ability to target precisely who sees what ads. The only way to do this is to know a lot about each and every user.

On one hand they need to look like they are protecting users data and on the other hand, they need to be exploiting the data.  

So what ends up happening is that Zuckerberg apologizes and promises things will be better then nothing of substance really changes.  


Facebook has one big advantage over senior living in that for most of us Facebook is a digital form of an opioid drug. People will mostly continue using it even knowing their data is being used (some would say exploited) to the benefit of advertisers. Senior living does not have that addictive advantage.  So here are the lessons:

  1. Each provider needs crazy open transparency — Here is who we are. Here is what we do. Here is what we can’t do. Here is how we can help you. Here is how we can’t.

  2. When we make mistakes we need to own them.

  3. When things go wrong we need to apologize and talk about how we are going to fix the problem. We then need to do what we promised we were going to do. Then if we fail on that we need to fix it or acknowledge it.  

Brand and Values Alignment

One of the really exciting and emerging trends I see in senior living is a conscious thoughtful effort to ensure that brand, values, and practice are in near-complete alignment as humanly possible. This last week I had long conversations with Veronica Barber at Benchmark and Dan Hutson at HumanGood — both organizations are crazy serious about this. I would also note that, even before this effort, both are companies that have been highly focused on culture.  

If We Don’t…

If we don’t do this, bad things will happen. For Facebook — because it is so like crack — I would expect to see some serious regulatory pressure on them. I think the time to trust they will fix the problem on their own is gone.

Regulatory pressure is a continuing risk for senior living, particularly assisted living. The skilled nursing world serves as an example of the results of promising to care for the very frail and then not delivering on the promise.  

Even worse — and more immediately impactful — consumers will “just say no” to senior living. They will find other ways to care for their loved ones.

Not All Doom And Gloom

I feel like the tone is negative, but this is the territory of opportunity. If we get this brand and culture thing right, it is easily foreseeable that every organization doing this will be full to the brim with residents and have a long list of folks in line for every vacancy.  

Are you in?