Results of reaching seniors on Facebook

by Nancy Hall, VP of Client Services at G5 Search Marketing

It’s hard to miss all the talk about baby boomers and seniors flocking to social media networking sites, especially Facebook. My family is part of that growing pack; no fewer than five of my relatives over the age of 70 have “friended” me on Facebook.

According to Deloitte data, 2009 was the year that social media bloomed for Baby Boomers; this age demographic was the fastest growing among Facebook users, with women 55+ leading the way (+175%) and men 55+ trailing just behind (+138%).

As an online marketing company with an active client roster of senior housing communities, it was time to do test paid advertisements on Facebook. Our testing methodology was straightforward: We identified 25 senior housing locations across a broad geographical area, set a budget, created Facebook paid campaigns targeting female users over the age of 45, and ran the campaigns over a three-month period.

The results:

· Higher than expected Web site traffic volume

· Lower than expected average lead per location, with an average conversion rate of just 0.78%

· Higher average bounce rates than Google paid campaigns; 1.81 average unique page views (Facebook) vs. 4.39 (Google)

Based on the low number of leads and the high cost per lead, we continue to believe that social media networking sites are not cost effective lead generators for our senior housing clients.

Paid search is still the most effective marketing spend for generating leads and conversion. That being said, we do think the high traffic numbers warrant additional testing and analysis for building brand awareness and community networking, which was not measured in this test.

In the meantime, we will continue to recommend that senior housing operators have a presence (company pages, fan pages) on the social media networking sites with the highest traffic: Facebook and LinkedIn.

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