MARKETING: Get serious with social media

David Barrett, MD Pic PR

David Barrett, Managing Director of Pic PR, a creative communications agency specialising in the care sector, offers advice on how to get the most out of social media.

Of the 7.4bn people who live on this planet, 2.3bn have social media accounts. That’s roughly 1 in 3.

Two-thirds of facebook’s 1.78bn users access the platform every day. Instagram has 14m monthly UK active users (600m worldwide). And Twitter sees 100m users login daily.

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These numbers are massive, yet care homes still insist social media is not a marketing tool for them!?!

Why? We all know that it’s the sons and daughters who are the main decision makers as to whether mum or dad should be going into a care home. These people are 30, 40, 50, 60 years of age. Many of them will have a social media presence. The scope for the ability to interact with your target market is huge and is something that care homes should be doing their utmost to instigate.

When it comes to implementing social media, in an ideal world, care homes should be doing it themselves. But often what happens is day-to-day activities come first and social media falls to the bottom of the to-do list.

So, with the effort involved then, why social media? Well the number of users should speak for themselves. But while being on social media will help build brand awareness, it’s not just about being on social or ‘doing’ social because competitors are on there. Social media is a powerful communications tool, one that will generate traffic to your site, and ultimately increase enquiries and fill rooms. That’s the crux as to why.

Content is key. Be different. Think…who are you? How do you talk on social media, what’s your tone of voice? You can be fun with it, people want to smile, and the sons and daughters want their parents to be in a fun place. So, make them smile with your social content. Have a personality. Be smart, witty, and clever.

Visual content is always a winner – especially video. People in videos always works well. And care homes have an abundance of key people they can draw upon for video content.

It’s worth remembering though that social media isn’t as straightforward as you might think. In recognition of this, I thought it would help if I outlined some useful pointers.

Here are my top 10 tips to get your social media working seriously for you and your care home…

  1. Point back to your website and tag different pages. Especially the enquiry page. Web content is vital for this.
  2. Google Analytics. Through Google Analytics it’s easy to measure your social activity. Make sure though, that if you’re using any social tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, for example, Google recognises these as social media referrals (easy to set-up), otherwise Google will think people are coming to your site directly.
  3. Listen in. There are lots of smart ‘listening in’ tools out there where you can set-up keyword searches, and even narrow these down to location. For example, you can set-up searches where you will see people mentioning ‘care home’ and ‘dementia’, for example, within an hour radius of your postcode, you can then join the conversations and encourage them to come and visit you.
  4. Post and update at optimal times of the day. Buffer (another neat social tool) allows you to do this, and reports on your most successful posts.
  5. Include staff in your social plan. For example, kitchen staff could have their own Instagram account, portraying a behind the scenes look at how your care home kitchen works.
  6. Use site content and press coverage to provide social content. Make sure this is happening.
  7. Twitter hours do work. Get involved!
  8. React quickly and differently. When a social media trend breaks and you want to ride on the back of this, do it quickly, and do it differently. Offer something unique.
  9. Invite social media influencers (those with large social followings – bloggers, journalists, celebs) to visit you. In return ask them to document their stay via their social accounts
  10. Try IFTTT. This is a smart tool that brings all your social media together, helping you to keep track of what’s going on.

With social there is no quick fix. It’s time consuming, and it isn’t easy to produce ‘smart, witty, and clever’ content. But get it right, and you will soon be getting serious engagement, and serious enquiries.

For more advice on how to improve your care home’s social media game then call David on 01386 882474 or email at david@picpr.com

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