There’s been a lot of talk about social networking lately (including an Academy Award nominated movies by that name). But Retirement communities have in fact been social networks long before the term became popular.
Many facilities for seniors work hard (and successfully) to create a sense of community for their residents. There are networks within the community that pass on information and keep other members of the community involved. You can tap into these networks in order to let others outside the residential community know what’s going on.
If you have a couple of residents who are comfortable using a computer and have a gift for writing, you might ask them to contribute short a blog post once a month. You’re not looking for Pulitzer Prize winning literature—but a first-hand account of some of the good things going on in the community can have a significant impact on someone from the outside who is thinking about exploring your facility. It’s one thing for you to tell prospective residents how wonderful your facility is and how great the people are. They expect you to say that. It’s your job. But when they hear reports from their peers—that carries more weight.
Having a regular blog (and having regular contributions from residents) is a great way to allow people from the outside to get a taste of your community. But don’t stop there. A picture is worth a thousand words. See if you can capture photos of some of the different social groups within your facility. You can either post them on your website, or on a photo-sharing site like Flickr or on a social media site such as Facebook. And if you have residents who are leaders of some of these groups (chess club, dance club, music club, etc.) you might see if they would be willing to field questions about those clubs from people who are considering coming into your community.
Your facility is an important part of your retirement community. But that alone isn’t what will draw people. Your residents and their social networks are one of your most valuable marketing assets.
What can you do to put your “social networks” online?