How to engage your care home’s local community on social media
Posted by: Gemma Keogh | 04.08.15

Although many within the social care sector remain sceptical about its usage, social media is one of the most impactful tools to show the wider public what it’s really like to live in your care home.

With one in four people now Tweeting, Liking and Instagraming across the globe, the potential for engaging new audiences is huge.

However, lets not loose sight of our goals here, there’s no point trying to achieve a global following if its not relevant to your business or the services that you are providing.

So rather than trying to talk with people around the world we recommend a more targeted approach, communicating with key stakeholders a lot closer to home – your local community.

The community within a 20-mile radius of your home are undoubtedly your most influential stakeholders. We all know that the best referrals come through word of mouth from people who live nearby and if you have a good relationship with your local commissioners then your home will have a waiting list rather than empty beds.

But this isn’t just about sales, its about creating genuine and long lasting social links that benefit the residents in your home. For your residents the local community will have played such a big part in their lives: they may have got married nearby, raised their children in the town and sent them to the school down the road. Their work, friends and leisure time may all have been based locally. It can be heart-breaking if these ties are broken when they move into your home and that’s why it’s so important to stay connected.

Here’s a few of our top tips of how to use social media to engage with your local community groups and organisations:

Introduce yourself – if you don’t let people know that you are there they won’t be able to read your content or engage with you. Most groups and organisations are on Facebook so choose someone you already work with, perhaps a local school, ‘Like’ their page and then ‘Like’ who they ‘Like’. Once people realise your account is up and running they will follow you in return and also tell people they know. The same goes for Twitter, follow all your current stakeholders and you’ll be surprised how quickly people follow you in return.

Be social – the clue is in the name really, social media is about talking with other people and sharing information rather than just broadcasting. This is a two-way dialogue not a monologue. Mention other groups in your posts – this is tagging on Facebook and @-ing on Twitter and Instagram. Respond to what other people say – if your local scout group are holding a fundraising event, wish them good luck and share the event info with your followers encouraging them to go and support the good cause. If you share and retweet other’s news they will return the favour by re-posting your content too. Make sure all your events are posted online and invite your local stakeholders to them.

Quality over quantity – Don’t spam your followers, take time to prepare your content, share a few posts a week and make sure it’s always relevant to your audiences. For example, editing photos before posting means people will enjoy looking at them rather than feeling inundated by poor quality shots with trees growing out of people’s heads etc. From a PR point of view, you always need to make sure that your social media content is on brand and emphasises your brand values.

Stay local – Share relevant news stories that focus on the local area and always post blogs or updates of activities or day trips you’ve had with groups or organisations outside the home. This will encourage others in the area to get involved too. Your local newspaper remains one of the best sources of information for your town so follow them and you’ll be up-to-date on everything that is happening. Don’t forget to use the hashtag for your town – this is an easy way to help you reach a wider audience. People often feel overwhelmed by hashtags, as if there is some dark art behind them, but they are actually just a very simple and effective way to group a conversation. For example, for events and stories held in Newbury use #Newbury and anyone searching for local information will find it.