An estimated 4.9 billion people use social media around the world. Facebook is the largest platform, with around 3.03 billion users, closely followed by WhatsApp and YouTube (both 2.7 billion) and Instagram (2.5 billion) (SOURCE: Social Media Users — Global Demographics (2023) (demandsage.com)). Other key social media platforms for care homes looking to market themselves include X (formerly known as Twitter) and LinkedIn, which focuses on business networking.
Who uses social media?
The two largest groups of people who use social media are Millennials and Generation Z. Although these make up a slightly younger demographic than the middle-aged or older people who might typically enquire about residential home vacancies, this doesn’t mean that care homes should disregard social media for marketing.
On the contrary, social media platforms are leading the way when it comes to establishing trends, setting the news agenda and helping companies establish their reputation online. You never know who might be watching your videos or following your content. Younger people can be highly influential in getting their parents to consider your care home for a grandparent or other vulnerable friend or relative.
Why should we market ourselves on social media?
In the competitive care home market, it is important that you put yourself ’out there’ on social media and provide a steady stream of positive messages. This will encourage people to notice what you are doing well – and follow you to find out more. In turn, regular contact will hopefully lead to your readers making enquiries and signing up to your services.
Another reason to use social media is the power of positive reviews. Encourage residents and families who rate your services highly to leave you reviews on social media sites. Increasingly, people are turning to reviews to inform their purchasing choices, as they are considered less biased than marketing material produced by the company in question.
Which social media sites do I choose?
It is a good idea to start small and build up to bigger things in stages. So, begin with just one social media platform and get yourself established on there before moving on to multiple sites. Think about the type of content you will be able to provide. If you have the time, equipment and energy to film short videos, look at sites like YouTube or TikTok. For photographs, Instagram and Pinterest are popular. Short, pithy text updates suit X (formerly Twitter), while Facebook tends to be good for all of the above. LinkedIn is best for business-related updates, such as recruitment news, and forthcoming events.
The choice of social media platforms is so wide nowadays that you can pick and choose what works for you. If something does not seem to fit closely enough with what you want, try a different social media site and a new approach. Or, try altering the type of content and/or time of day when you post. Bear in mind that your content is being posted publicly, so make sure it is appropriate and inoffensive, or you may find yourself with unwanted negative attention. Always get posts checked by more than one person before setting them live to ensure a balanced approach.
How do I get started?
It is a good idea to dedicate some time in your week to social media. This will allow you space to plan what you are going to post, actually produce the content and edit it and respond to any comments or queries that previously uploaded material has generated. The key to being successful on social media is maintaining momentum and engaging with your followers – setting aside time to do this regularly will keep the conversations flowing. If you are not sure where to begin, check out what your competitors are doing and the type of content they are uploading – which type of posts are working best for them?
What do I post?
As a rule, posts with a visual element, such as a photo or video, will capture more people’s attention that purely text-based updates. This goes a long way towards explaining why more versatile sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, are more popular among social media users. People can make videos, take photos and post them up, together with some brief text to explain the context. People scrolling through their feeds will spot the visual content and engage with it far more often than typed words alone. As for what to post, let your care home community be your inspiration. People love to see what other people are doing. So, talk about events and activities that your residents have enjoyed, and milestones that your staff have achieved. Write about special visitors to the home, charity events, craft mornings and daytrips. Anything that gives a positive flavour of life in your care home. Don’t forget to reply to people’s comments!