Inside an award-nominated social marketing strategy [Interview]

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
Sunrise Senior Living generates social buzz through its innovative online strategies, powered in part by Brafton.

Social media marketing resonates with various audiences, even when products or services don’t seem like they’d interest today’s online-savvy audience. At first glance, internet users might not think a company like Sunrise Senior Living, a service aimed at providing residents with a unique assisted or independent living experience, would have an award-worthy social media strategy, but they’d be wrong. The company’s social media strategy shows employees, seniors and children considering assisted living facilities for their parents and elder relatives, exactly why Sunrise communities stand out.

Abby and VanessaBrafton helps the company fuel its social marketing strategies and provides custom, interactive content. We recently spoke with Senior Manager of Online Marketing at Sunrise Senior Living, Abby See, and Online Marketing Associate, Vanessa Stephenson, on the company’s recent Best Senior Living Awards 2013 nomination within the Social Media Rockstars category. Sunrise Senior Living serves more than 12,000 Facebook fans and over 3,000 Twitter followers, offering followers free caregiving advice and useful health tips. Here’s what See and Stephenson had to say about the success behind their brand’s social strategy.

Q: Why do you think your social media marketing strategy worked so well?

A: We think the most important aspect of a social media presence is steady and consistent engagement. We cater to a unique following, so it is helpful to provide direct social feedback on questions and lend advice to caregivers through really niche content. To accomplish this, we try to respond to every question or interaction directed at us via Facebook and other social channels, both positive and negative commentary. 

We also discovered that multimedia and interactive social contests keep our audience engaged, so we run periodical promotions to get people to return to our sites in the future.

It also helps that we use our social platforms, namely Facebook, as a place for employee engagement and participation. We have such a large team of professionals (over 30,000!) and they take pride in their work. Our community team members send us photos of activities with residents for us to share on our outlets. This demonstrates just how much of a focus we have on our residents and keeps team members engaged with one another.

Q: Do you have any tips for businesses trying to reach niche audiences via social media?

A: When looking back at our strategy, we came up with six tips. 

1.) Consistency for community – For a while, we ran weekly Friday drink posts on our Senior Eats blog, where we highlighted a summer beverage recipe. We also featured images of our residents enjoying these happy hours to be transparent about how the content we promote directly relates to what we provide our residents.

Facebook post2.) Strategy must be dynamic - We ran our Friday drink posts for a few months and saw high engagement levels, but when interactions tapered off, we knew we had to adapt and come up with something new. Social media changes quickly, and online marketing teams must be dynamic in their efforts to reach audiences.

3.) Get employees involved - Social media is a great way to build credibility, and we always ask our caregivers to participate by submitting photos and news pertaining to their residents, and those posts give our social followers direct access to what life’s like beyond our brand image. This content provides a real “inside look” into everyday life at our communities.

4.) Monitor the competition - We want to stay ahead of the curve, so we make sure to keep an eye on our competition. We see what other brands are doing, and when we come across an idea that we want to try, we make sure to put our own flare on it.

5.) Let website content inspire social media posts - Repurposing blog content adds another angle to our overall social marketing strategy. We run weekly food recipe articles on our Senior Eats food blog, which inspired our Friday drink posts. But we also discovered that social media inspires new ideas for our website content.

6.) Find the right tone - Taking the right tone online is essential for stable engagement. We needed to figure out what language would resonate with our fans and followers and make sure to consistently deliver new content within the same language guidelines.

Q: How did Brafton help you perfect your social media marketing strategy?

Sunrise Vote CTAA: We’ve worked with our Social Media Strategist, Daniel Greenberg, to find the ideal way to interact with our audience on social networks. Brafton’s social media marketing team has been very responsive and readily available throughout our professional partnership; Dan understands our audience and conveys that knowledge through his posts. Not just anyone could work to produce content that resonates with our fans and followers – that’s one of Dan’s greatest strengths and a reason for our strategy’s success. The Brafton team also brings new ideas to the table – they always ask us what we think about taking a new approach, and their creativity helps keep our campaigns ahead of the curve. They have good ideas, and they’re also just really nice!

To check out Sunrise Senior Living’s award-winning Facebook presence, click on the following link, and make sure to vote for them on SeniorHomes.com.

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