Organic social media—the ability to reach your target audience through social networks without spending advertising dollars—is more than just a complementary element in your senior living marketing plan. It plays a central role in the consumer journey and, when used properly, can be a major player in the conversion process.

In fact, with communities currently unable to hold in-person events once paramount to the sales process, social media has never been more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic. But even beyond the current climate, the long-term benefits of a robust social media marketing plan are vital for marketing senior living communities. This is especially true for continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), which generally have a longer sales cycle and require more upfront financial commitment from prospects.

Nonetheless, the core elements of social media messaging remain the same no matter how the pandemic affects our marketing environment: quality of care, worry-free living and a life well-lived. Social media allows marketers to highlight these messages, demonstrate a unique value proposition and show the personality of their community before having the opportunity to meet residents in person.

Here are six ways to elevate your organic social presence to stand out in the market.

1. Brand ambassadors are still invaluable.

There is nothing like having a prospect tour your campus with a happy resident or passionate staff member. They bring credibility and validate your messaging.

That sincere belief in your community can be translated to social media through video spotlights and resident testimonials. Most cell phones and the right editing tools allow an in-house marketing team to produce quality videos. It doesn’t need to be a big production. There is something to be said for creating a video that may be less polished than one shot professionally—it will feel more authentic if done right.

2. Tried and true.

With the continuing growth of social networks, it may be tempting to diversify and spread out your messaging. But think about this: 46% of American adults aged 65+ use Facebook. That’s nearly 25 million people in the exact demographic you’re trying to reach. On top of that, 68% of Americans aged 50–64 use Facebook, adding another almost 43 million adult children who are often involved and influence the decision-making process of choosing a senior living community to your potential audience.

So while Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are other important platforms to consider if you’re producing the right content (think community videos for YouTube, tips and demos for Pinterest and resident/community-focused content for Instagram), you may want to think twice about committing too much time and energy into launching new platforms before maximizing your capabilities on Facebook.

3. You don’t have to believe us…

You can tell prospects how great you are and why your community is the right fit for them, but it is always more credible coming from a trusted outside source.

Posting reviews from consumer sites such as Caring.com, A Place for Mom or Yelp carries weight in a day and age when some studies show that as many as 88 percent of consumers go online to research before buying. It’s also important to solicit reviews from current residents and family members for your Facebook page. Their positive experiences are a testament to your brand.

So how do you get them? Run a contest for written reviews. Host an interview with residents and ask their permission to post part of it to social media. Chances are, residents will be willing to help if you’re willing to do the work with them.

4. From sweet treats to smart tips, show off your expertise.

While you may not be able to host in-person events, there are still ways to livestream events that bring you into the home of a prospect. And make sure to let them know they can tour your facility virtually any time they would like.

Hosting a wine tasting complemented by delectable desserts whipped up by your award-winning chef is an engaging way to show prospects your social life and culinary expertise. Hosting a financial planning seminar on how to prepare for retirement is a helpful and inviting way to get a prospect’s attention. And while you’re likely already doing these things, chances are, you’re not repurposing them to the best of your ability.

5. Content—the gift that keeps on giving.

You’ve probably heard the term “pillar content,” which refers to a substantive piece of content that can be broken down into many different parts. Breaking a longer piece into short video snippets, infographics, quote graphics or audio clips is a smart way to get the most out of the library of longer-form content you produce. Want some more ways? Check out this article.

You know those great tips your financial planner just shared in a livestream? Or the desserts your chef showed off in his presentation? How about that heartfelt video by one of your residents speaking so eloquently about how you helped her stay connected to her family? They can all be repurposed.

6. Thanks for sharing.

Whether they are answers to a question you posted, reactions to a story you shared or an unsolicited post from a family member who has been touched by the care you are giving their loved one, user-generated content can be powerful.

Consider this from a Stackla survey: Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to say user-generated content (UGC) is more authentic than branded content. Check your page mentions, tags, geotags and shares frequently, and check out this article to find out how to get UGC from your audience.