Amanda Arnouk, Marketing and Branding Manager at Vitality Living, has her work cut out for her.
“We have nine communities, plus a corporate identity for Vitality. Every one of those has their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, plus LinkedIn and Instagram accounts for corporate. That’s 30 accounts I’m in charge of updating,” she says.
“It’s a lot.”
No doubt about that. And if you work on a senior living organization’s marketing team, Amanda’s situation might sound a little too familiar.
Social promotion is really demanding. Today’s audiences want a near-constant stream of updates. That’s hard for one community, let alone large organizations with multiple communities, each of which has unique promotional goals.
How on Earth are marketing teams — or sometimes, even, a single marketing person — supposed to keep it all together?
In this post, Amanda shares the secrets that keep her sane, and make Vitality’s social media presence so successful.
1 — Have systems and stick to them
Amanda’s system is her lifeline.
“It’s so important to have a routine you stick to,” she says. “For me, I have a dedicated slot, Monday, Wednesday, Fridays at 11am, that’s in my calendar as ‘social media time.’”
She uses the time to check up on activity on Vitality’s accounts, push updates, and engage with visitors. Without this disciplined regimen, Amanda knows the wheels would come off the entire content operation.
Software is also crucial for organizing her work. Amanda herself uses Hubspot, a popular content management software, that lets her schedule social media updates and optimize them for audience engagement.
“You have to be able to schedule posts. That’s key. You can’t be logging on to 30 individual accounts and posting stuff at different times. It’s impossible.”
With Hubspot, Amanda can also get at-a-glance reports of Vitality’s monthly social media activities. She can see which communities are active online, and which ones have been quiet lately — so she can intervene.
2 — Deal with tech discomfort
Any digital marketer knows: regular updates are the pulse that keeps a social media presence alive.
Most community administrators understand that, but they’re not always so diligent about maintaining their Facebook pages or posting on Twitter. Why?
Well, they’re really busy, for one thing. But Amanda knows there’s another factor involved.
"The biggest reason is people aren’t always so comfortable with the various platforms,” Amanda says. “Some people are totally Facebook fluent, know how to get quality posts out there, but other people are intimidated by it. They’re not sure what to do. They end up putting it off.”
Amanda sees part of her job as helping her colleagues through the social media process.
“I try to make it easy and accessible for everyone. If I haven’t heard from a community in a while, I reach out to them to see what’s going on. If they don’t want to post things directly, they can just email or text me a picture or an update or whatever. That’s what I’m here for,” Amanda says.
3 - Get as close to the floor as possible
To illustrate why it’s so important to get direct updates from individual communities, Amanda likes to talk about two different social media updates Vitality recently uploaded.
“We had two things go up. One of them was little blurb about a group outing to a horse stable. 147 likes, fifteen comments,” she says.
“Another post was a bigger-picture blog from our corporate office.”
How many likes for that one?
This is a consistent trend in social media updates for senior living communities. People want to see real people, thriving residents, and good times — and they’ll reward it with lots of social media engagement.
“Those corporate-level posts are important for our brand identity. But the smaller-scale stuff performs so much better. Even if it’s ‘hey, here’s where we went out to lunch today,’ that’s going to get 5-10 times the level of engagement, easy,” Amanda says.
Communities looking for ways to boost engagement numbers might learn from that example.
4 — Keep the engagement going
Making good on that engagement is just as important as earning it, according to Amanda.
For one, marketing managers should consider what people are looking for when they log on. Often, when they get active on a company’s feed, it’s because they want to feel a part of the community. They’re looking for interaction. Organizations should honor that!
“You really want to encourage people to contribute,” Amanda says.
Liking / responding to friendly comments, or resharing relevant content from other users, can go a long way toward endearing users to a social brand.
Another use for engagement is more business-oriented — it’s an important validation for the work of marketing teams.
“Sometimes a family member will comment and say ‘it’s so good to see mom out,’ and I immediately screenshot it and share it with the leadership team,” Amanda says. “They need to see and know and feel that they’re having an impact — this is what we’re here for. I love being able to share those moments.”
5 — An underrated channel — Google Maps
Finally, Amanda shares a tip for a platform she thinks communities don’t use enough: Google Maps.
“There are free tools out there Google has for us to promote ourselves,” Amanda says. “Not using them is a real missed opportunity.
One neglected feature: the “Posts” section.
For every community, organizations can use the Posts field to update any searchers about what’s going on in their communities. It’s similar to Facebook updates, except it’s location-specific — very important when you’re appealing to mobile users.
Here’s what it looks like when you search one of Vitality’s communities on Google from your phone.
That “Posts” button shows you the events going on at the community in question. In Maristone’s case: their Birthday Bash!
This gives the community a chance to promote one of their special offers — a great way to win over residents. And that’s not all.
“Anytime there’s an event we make sure to put it up on Google Maps, because from there people can instantly import the event into their calendars,” Amanda says.
Very useful for getting people in the door!
6 — There’s always more to learn
The last tip Amanda shares is how the work of mastering social media is never really over.
“The platforms are always changing, there are new opportunities opening up all the time,” Amanda says. “You have to work to stay on top of it all.”
For now, video content is a major priority for Amanda and the team at Vitality. Other organizations might need to focus on something else.
But regardless of where their priorities lie, it’s clear that building an online presence is a vital part of any community’s marketing operations. Leaders shouldn’t forget it.
“Facebook and Twitter are maybe the best way we have to reach our prospects right now,” Amanda says. “We have to be comfortable with those platforms — and whatever’s coming next! — or we’re going to miss out!”