In an increasingly competitive home care environment, social media can help promote your brand and services and be visible in a growing market, writes Amanda Terranova.
It is time. It is time for your home care organisation to embrace social media, not only to get in the game but also to stay ahead. Popular social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are a standard in today’s marketing mix, not to mention the many others such as Instagram, Pinterest, Minds, and Tumblr.
Before you say ‘but I don’t have the time’ – think about why you should for just a moment. For example:
- We are only a small organisation and social media would be a cost effective way to keep our community of staff, family and friends up-to-date on the great work we are doing – think Facebook
- We are a large organisation and we need to recruit more care staff in the near future and social media will give us the opportunity to reach new people through our networks – think LinkedIn
- We are a medium-sized organisation and we want to work with our local traditional media (TV, radio, print) more effectively by sharing stories about [CDC, new products, new services, new initiatives, new staff] to increase our client base – think Twitter
- We want to understand how we can promote our organisation to support our retention and strategic growth plans – think all of the above
Once you and your team have identified and agreed on your ‘why’ – move on to budgeting, resourcing and time management. There is a common misconception that social media is free. There is a direct cost of paid advertising available on many social media platforms but there is also an indirect cost of time and resources.
Have you started thinking yet? Consider the following as a guide to start the process:
- Make a start. Don’t let fear or time stop you. Make this marketing and promotional channel a priority.
- Formalise your goals and stay focused. Try the ‘30, 60, 90 day’ approach before you give up! At 30 days assess what worked best and optimise; at 60 days plan where to increase or decrease time, people and budget, and at 90 days evaluate success and turn into a long-term strategy. Consistency and repetition are key to successful campaigns.
- Take social media seriously. It can be fun but also consider how you can align social media platforms to your retention or growth strategies for serious commitment.
- Consider dedicated marketing resources within your organisation or outsource to experts to help you manage. Consider the cost and your own skills that will be required. Is this the best use of your time, your expertise and budget?
- Have a look at how other social networking savvy care organisations like Care Connect, Community West, KinCare, Bethanie and BaptistCare are using social media to connect in their communities. How do they engage their followers and what type of content are they sharing?
- Stay authentic and true to your organisational values and mission. You are endeavouring to have a relationship with real people who may become clients or staff.
- Look outside of your community, industry and country for ideas and inspiration on what to share, post and talk about.
- Prepare a social media policy for your organisation. This will ensure your staff have clear guidelines on what is permissible and to make appropriate decisions about the use of social media; common sense means different things to different people.
- Do your research and understand there are risks involved. From privacy to mainstream media picking up a post and writing a story. Think about how to manage risk and responses in sticky situations.
And finally, consider what will happen if you don’t make a start.
It is time.
Amanda Terranova is the marketing manager for Aged Care Channel (ACC) TV Australia and United Kingdom. Prior to her current position Amanda was based in New York as global project manager for WPP working directly with clients Dell Computers, AT&T, Proctor and Gamble, Glaxo Kline Smith and Saks 5th Avenue.
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