It takes time to build a powerful social media program. And, once you start, it’s important to keep the engine fueled with fresh content.

By Susan Saldibar

Jason McCloud, VP of Digital Marketing for Sage Age, a Senior Housing Forum partner, would like to make something clear to senior care providers: Social media is not a direct lead machine. It may, in fact, be more powerful.

“People will say ‘We need social media to drive leads!’ Then they give up when the leads aren’t flowing in. And that’s the worst thing they could do,” says Jason.

Okay, so if it’s not there to fill up the sales pipeline, what’s its purpose?

Jason points out four important things you need social media for:

  1. Brand promotion

  2. Community engagement

  3. Lead nurturing

  4. SEO

And those four elements can, collectively, build a powerful infrastructure for your lead generating programs, according to Jason. But you need to be consistent and you need to make sure you are optimizing your content for each platform.

Here are some best practices tips to get your social media engine pumping.

Facebook and Google+

  • Why use them:

    • Facebook is the number one social media choice of adult children (50 – 64-years-olds).

    • Google loves Google, so Google+, while it does not enjoy the popularity of Facebook, is great for helping boost your social signals for SEO.

  • Media: Resident-related photos, videos are best.

  • Frequency: At least 1 x day; 2 x day is optimal.


  • Why use it:

    • YouTube is a natural platform for sharing and indexing videos.

    • Search engines index YouTube videos, based on keyword optimization, in the search results pages (SERPs).  Be sure to optimize keywords and phrases in your video descriptions and titles.

    • Keep video under 90 seconds in length.

  • Frequency: 1 x month or more frequently.


  • Why use it:

    • Great for short announcements and shout-out recognitions and awards.

    • Excellent “hook” to pull people over to your website or Facebook page.

  • Media: Short text, photos, videos.

  • Frequency: At least 1 x day; 2 x day is optimal.

Original content is your “secret sauce.”

The key to bringing social media alive for your community is to use original content, according to Jason. “Try for 90% original and 10% curated content,” says Jason. Use your videos and photos to celebrate and tell the stories of your residents and associates. Be sure to include your staff, residents’ families and even pets!

Who should organize and supervise content? Jason recommends using your Activities Director and Sales Directors. These are typically the people who are most in tune with the programs and know which residents are most likely to enjoy making a video or being highlighted in a photo.

Watch out for things that can hammer an otherwise great video or photo.

It’s important to keep your eyes open to everyone and everything captured in the media. “Occasionally we will see a video that’s perfect, except for the man in the background, slumped over in his wheelchair, fast asleep. Or we’ll see a great photo with an overflowing trash can in the background,” says Jason. “While both situations are understandable, they can give an impression to the viewer that the community is not clean or, in the case of the man asleep in his wheelchair, some people are left out,” he adds.

And, Jason reminds us, it’s important to get privacy release waivers from everyone in the photo or video. “Many communities will ask for a waiver at move-in,” says Jason. “That makes it a lot easier downstream.”

Remember, good things take time.

It takes time to build a powerful social media program. And, once you start, it’s important to keep the engine fueled with fresh content.

As to building leads? “Its greatest advantage is not lead generation. In many ways it’s more powerful,” says Jason. “All those ‘likes’, ‘re-tweets’, ‘follows’ and link-sharing will build your brand and engage your prospects and clients. There is simply no better platform to celebrate your residents and associates, while nurturing all those cold, warm, and hot leads.”