According to the United States Census Bureau, the population over 65 will have increased by 13.8% from 49.2 million to 56.1 million between 2016 and 2020 and further increase another 16.4% from 56.1 million to 65.2 million people between 2020 and 2025.
It should come as no surprise that the number of for-profit and not-for-profit senior living communities will continue to increase as the senior population continues to grow in order to provide housing suitable to meet the senior population’s needs.
It is also a proven fact that that when it comes time to begin the search process for yourself or a family member, people are increasingly turning to the Internet to begin that process.
According to the top 12 tips from Where You Live Matters, four of the top 12 tips involve researching websites, reading online reviews, reviewing social media channels, and using social media to ask questions about other’s experiences with senior living communities or asking for recommendations.
In our blog post; “Pros and Cons of Social Media in Aging Services Communities“, we discussed the necessity for aging services communities to showcase their organization, staff, events, activities, and even driving traffic to the organizations website.
But what about online reviews?
We already discussed the “Correlation between 5-star ratings and Social Media Reviews” to better understand that there is no ability for the inclusion of personal opinions and experiences to a fact-based system of data analysis provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and how Social Media reviews allow users to share non-quantifiable inclusion of thoughts, opinions, and experiences with senior living communities.
Beyond social media there are 55 business review sites on the Internet where people can (and do) write reviews, share their experiences and are being looked at for recommendations. Most businesses aren’t monitoring these reviews or comments because they simply aren’t aware they exist.
So what’s the big deal with social media and online review sites and why are they so important to senior living communities?
There are two sides of the equation. The human side and the search engine optimization side.
Social media and online reviews play a critical role to both sides of the equation. When individuals are performing the necessary research steps for finding a place for themselves or their loved ones, they turn to the websites, social media, and online review sites to get the people-to-people input and experiences as well as to learn more about the behind-the-scenes events, activities, staff, and other information about the senior living communities.
From a search engine perspective, in addition to all the other elements of online marketing and search engine optimization, senior living community websites can receive a significant boost in their website rankings through an effective use of social media, monitoring online review sites, actively pursuing online reviews, and responding to those reviews. In the recent article Local Search Ranking Actors survey published by MOZ (formerly SEOMoz), it was reported that effectively managing online reviews are thought to make up up to 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results.