As older adults and their families spring to the internet to assess their senior living options, your online reputation can either help or hurt your opportunity to earn their business. Follow these steps to make the best impression you can.
The luxury of selective disclosure is a thing of the past. As a result of the internet, your community no longer has full control over what people say about you. Prospective residents and their adult children are basing their decisions on what people are saying about your business on review sites like Google, Yelp, Caring.com, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. You can, however, manage how you guide people to interact with your community and how you respond to their experiences.
A wise man once said, “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” In today’s always-on, digitally-enabled world, this statement has never been truer, particularly for the senior living industry.
As only 37% of senior living providers actively monitor their online reputation, get a leg up by building a robust online reputation management system with these 5 key steps.
1) Audit your activity.
Conduct an in-depth review of your community’s online profiles to help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth.
Take stock of the following: on which review sites is your community being talked about? How many people have taken to these sites to express their thoughts? What’s the average rating or overall sentiment on each review platform? Note: Whether or not you’re aware of it, your community likely has a listing already generated on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing Places.
If your organization isn’t currently monitoring this type of activity, designate a point person to receive alerts and respond to reviews.
2) Find someone who can sing the song of your people.
This designated point person should be someone you can trust to not only stay on top of online reviews, but to provide a prompt and empathetic response directly to dissatisfied reviewers.
They should be equipped to carefully craft a response that demonstrates kindness and senior care expertise. Remember that seniors and family caregivers are experiencing a wide array of issues that affect their words and tone.
3) Honesty is the best policy.
Don’t wait around for reviews with your eyes covered: ask for them. Opening a line of communication around your community’s performance shows that you lead with transparency, a trait that’s highly-valued in today’s post-social media world.
Solicit requests through social media, e-blasts, direct mail, and direct conversations. Facilitating a quarterly survey is a surefire way of identifying your community’s biggest brand ambassadors - those who are most likely to leave positive reviews.
4) Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Positive reviews are, of course, the ultimate end goal. Paradoxically, negative reviews can also be positive for business. It allows senior living providers the opportunity to make a case in the face of criticism, opening up a two-way dialogue with their audience.
Acknowledging reviews of all types sends a message to your followers that you value their feedback and care about finding a solution. Besides, people expect to see a mix of positive and negative reviews and become suspicious if they don’t.
Pro tip: good or bad, make a conscious effort to respond to the posted review within 24 hours.
5) Make it easy as 1, 2, 3.
If you catch wind of someone who’s had a positive experience with your community, give the compliment some staying power. Shoot the individual a follow-up email with links to your Facebook page, Yelp and/or Caring.com, asking them to share their experience out to your online communities. Walk them through the process, or consider incentivizing with a gift card to sweeten the deal. Time is money, you know.
Capture these testimonials on social, encouraging others to follow suit. In an effort to better track and get them to talk, consider creating a custom hashtag.
6) Suppress the negative.
The most effective way of pushing any potentially damaging content lower on search results pages can be achieved by generating fresh content. And lots of it.
Consistent posting can help improve your reputation by countering negative results with positive, authoritative content you create. Content can come in the form of website updates, social media posts, press releases, or blog entries.
7) Give ‘em something to talk about.
Think about some of your community’s biggest differentiators: maybe it’s your new executive chef, serving up inspiration in and out of the kitchen. Perhaps your therapy program just introduced some amazing, state-of-the-art equipment. Or you take a lot of pride in your health services team, who has a knack for making people feel instantly comfortable. Think about working these elements into your tour so you’re bound to give touring families the ‘wow’ factor.
Building a strong online reputation is no easy task; it takes a village. In order to ensure ongoing success, it requires engagement from residents, families, and industry influencers, and a proactive, positive outreach program from within.
Your families and prospects are already talking about you. Now’s the time to listen, respond, and join the conversation. Put your best face forward and download our web accessibility checklist.