Message to the seniors housing industry: Tweet me
Social Media Marketing. It's everywhere. Major news outlets across the country are talking about it. Industry magazines are talking about it (heck, you've probably seen it in this magazine).
But what exactly is it? As the bard said, therein lies the rub.
Luckily, we have Wikipedia. According to the online user-generated encyclopedia, Social Media Marketing is defined as: "a term that describes the act of using social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other collaborative Internet form of media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service. Common social media marketing tools include Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.”
That sounds about right—using social networks to reach an audience—and possibly keep a current one. Today, we'll focus on just one of those “channels”—Twitter.
That begs the question: What is Twitter? Wikipedia—do you have an answer on that one, too?
Caffeine is a key component of twitter use.
"Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets … While the service costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees."
Huh? Let's just say it's short bursts of text (tweets) to reach your relevant audience—who has to "follow" you to receive those "tweets".
So what’s the point? Simple. The point is to use this new form of communication to make your current, happy customers a sales channel. Rather than marketing to your customers, you can use social networking to market with them.
But how is this relevant for senior housing, on a community and corporate level?
It’s a way to reach out to prospects, but also, to communicate with your current residents families. As more and more people become full-fledged Twitter users—(18 million regular users are expected by the end of 2009)—being where your potential (and current) clients are becomes very important.
Some companies are already embracing it full force. The Arbor Company, for example, even has their Twitter feed on their homepage. They have found this to be a valuable marketing tool.
“Having our Twitter feed automatically populate has increased the value of our Web presence," said Laura Ellen McAvoy, director of operations for The Arbor Company. "It keeps our sites updated with relevant content which in turn attracts prospective residents or their families. It also provides an avenue for current family and friends, near or far, to stay socially connected and interact with our residents.”
This company has been able to achieve a closer relationship with their current residents and families, while simulataneously reaching out to potential prospects—a perfect use of Twitter.
The use of this 'microblogging' format is proliferating throughout the industry. You can find ALFA President Rich Grimes (@rickgrimes) and this very magazine (@longtermliving). You can even follow me if you want to (@G5SMarketing).
This is the place where I'd love to prognosticate on “what's next” for Twitter, and what the next, important sensation in Social Media Marketing will be. Unfortunately, I don't have that answer for you; my crystal ball is on the fritz.
But what I can tell you is this: As the "next big thing" comes out, you will hear about it. And when the buzz, and the user base reaches critical mass, there will be an article, or a blog, not unlike this one—with tips on how to succeed.
In the meantime—get yourself a Twitter account, listen to the conversation, and be ready to respond—to both the good and the bad. By making your company available to your current customers and your prospective ones, you can keep your occupancy high and your company thriving.
Devin Davis is the Director of Marketing for G5 Search Marketing. You can reach him via e-mail, Twitter (@G5SMarketing), or phone (541) 306-3389. G5 Search Marketing is a Local Marketing Management provider for the Senior Housing Industry.