Independent Living Operators Can Focus on Facebook During Quarantine

Organic social media content is more important than ever during COVID-19 pandemic for residents and prospects.

By Greg Eves, United Group of Companies

Independent living is a lifestyle choice for seniors. Whether prospective residents are looking to downsize their home, escape the burdens of homeownership, broaden their social life or move closer to their adult children and grandchildren, it’s crucial for property management companies to understand that they’re selling more than just a place to live. They’re selling a unique lifestyle.

For years, property management companies have turned to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to effectively and inexpensively promote a community by creating content and ads highlighting floor plans, leasing specials, open houses and events. While these online marketing initiatives are invaluable and can drive traffic to communities and websites, some property management companies lose sight of how important organic lifestyle content is to promoting their communities and actually helping a prospective resident visualize their future.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily closed amenity spaces and clubhouses, and canceled community events and classes, that doesn’t mean social media pages can’t still produce creative organic lifestyle content that stands out to your page followers as they scroll through a busy newsfeed. Now is the perfect time to devote more energy and resources to social media content, especially as Americans continue to live in isolation, and are likely spending more time online and on social media.

Repurpose your existing social engagement

Start by revamping your community’s activity and event calendars. There are still several ways to reach your isolated residents, helping them stay active, social and in good spirits. You can, and should, connect with residents online and think of new, creative ways to safely engage with them. In essence, bring the party to them.

The Grove at Stapleton, an independent living community in Denver, postponed its popular “Wine Down Wednesday” event due to COVID-19. Instead of completely canceling the event, though, employees surprised residents at their doorstep with a selection of wines and appetizers. This was a great time to create social media content, as well as demonstrate to residents and online followers that the community is trying to maintain some normalcy in a time of uncertainty.

Hosting a “balcony happy hour” is another simple way to keep residents social and engaged. Schedule a date and time for residents to step out onto their balconies to chat and wave to each other from a distance. This not only encourages residents to get some fresh air, but also helps them stay connected with friends and neighbors.

While dozens of residents are spending time on their balconies, use this window of opportunity to create more social media content. These images and videos can establish a strong message that your residents are united, staying strong and staying social during the pandemic, which would resonate well with prospective residents who are feeling lonely and isolated in their homes.

Connecting with residents and prospective residents online is another valuable opportunity to showcase a community’s unique lifestyle on social media. Utilize “Facebook Live” — a feature that allows you to stream live videos on your Facebook page — to host art, cooking and fitness classes. Incorporating classes and instructional videos can help refine your community’s social media presence from a simple promotional tool to a source of entertainment and activity for your followers.

Become a source of good news

In our current climate, non-COVID-19 related news reports are few and far between. This unfortunate reality provides an opportunity for your community to be transformed into an outlet where followers can read and view encouraging and uplifting local and national news. You can even generate your own positive news by creating a community or company-wide initiative that highlights any charitable efforts that your employees or residents have participated in during the pandemic.

For example, the United Group of Companies created the #AlwaysUnited Challenge, which encourages communities to participate in local philanthropic efforts and support those currently in need. The #AlwaysUnited Challenge also includes a video series that features employees from across the country. The nominated challenger speaks briefly about anything positive that they’ve experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and nominates the next employee. These videos are then posted on social media as a refreshing and positive distraction from the constant gloom of COVID-19 reports.

Perhaps creating an entire philanthropic initiative and daily video content seems too daunting, but you still want make an effort to support your local community. An easier method is to share or retweet relevant posts by local restaurants, businesses and news outlets. This is an easy co-marketing initiative that can help generate a relationship with other businesses and build your reputation as a go-to source for intriguing news and updates for your followers.

Don’t underestimate the importance of organic lifestyle content on your community’s social media pages. Prospective residents want to be able to visualize the day-to-day life and activities that your community offers. Remember: you’re selling a lifestyle, not just a place to live.

 

Greg Eves is the public relations and marketing specialist for the United Group of Companies, and is responsible for social media marketing initiatives for their student, seniors and multifamily housing portfolios.