Reaching family caregivers through Facebook

The graying of Facebook

Facebook has matured, literally. According to the Pew Internet Project, Facebook is far and away the most popular of the social networks, with 68% of the entire U.S. adult population engaging in this medium. By age, that breaks down to

  • 36% of persons 65+ use Facebook
  • 61% of persons 50-64 use Facebook
  • 79% of persons 30-49 use Facebook
  • 88% of persons 18-29 use Facebook

Although Facebook is clearly popular with the young, it has now caught on quite a bit with middle-aged individuals, those adult daughters and sons who are key elder care decision makers. In fact, Statista reports that one-third (33%) of all U.S. Facebook users are age 45 years or older.

Family caregivers as the target audience

According to Pew Internet data, 88% of family caregivers turn to the Internet for information to help with their caregiving. Even if family caregivers are not wearing their caregiver hats when on Facebook (e.g., are more focused on sharing with their friends), if something very pertinent popped up in their newsfeed or in the side advertising bar, they would likely take notice.

How to get their attention

Facebook is content marketing, not sales. You don’t pitch your services (or at least 80% of your posts should not be direct pitches). You offer educational information that captures their interest, reinforces your expertise, and builds brand loyalty. Make a commitment that at least 1-2 updates per week are something that supports family caregivers.

Focus on chronic care issues

Family caregivers will spend 4.3 years caring for an aging loved one. Remember, social media is a brand loyalty initiative. As your followers see the quality and caregiving insights reflected in your posts, you will become a trusted friend. If you are a home care provider or care manager, the chronic care phase is when people start to need your help, even if just sporadically (e.g., after a hospitalization).

Even for hospice

If you are marketing hospice or palliative care, think of your social media efforts as an investment in building brand loyalty over time. The chronic care (IADL) stage of care is still your audience, since persons later in the caregiving trajectory are not as likely to have time to hang out on Facebook. Get them bonded to you now so they will have warm fuzzy feelings about you when the times comes that your services are mentioned or needed.

Stories are the currency of social media

As we know, stories are the best way to engage your audience. You do need to be careful about HIPAA (not posting stories with protected health information unless you have permission from the patient and family). But as long as you have a signed release, you can post photos and videos, tell a story, etc.

  • ·Sweet stories, especially about family caregivers. Family caregivers are the unsung heroes of elder care. Let them know that you understand and appreciate all they do.
  • Stories about, or by, volunteers are very effective. If you are a hospice, you know your volunteers are often former family caregivers. They bring a lot of credibility. Plus it’s nice for a family caregiver to learn that part of the hospice benefit includes the periodic help of a volunteer.

Articles from your newsletter. If you have a newsletter for family caregivers with articles that speak to their issues, post about them with links to the online version or the .pdf.

For nonprofits, these are not the articles about fundraising endeavors or donor of the month. You can post those. But if you have a commitment to posting 1-2 educational updates a week for family caregivers, don’t count those fund-raising pitches. That’s an “ask” not a “give.” Content marketing is about giving.

Consider articles such as these:

Post about family caregiver support groups. If you lead support groups or sponsor them, post about upcoming meetings. With permission of the group, post photos or videos of a fun activity you have done together.

It’s good to share

Follow the Facebook pages of organizations that are not your competitors, but with whom you share a similar customer base. LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE their events or educational postings. In addition to filling your posts with useful information (and being perceived as a resource), you will garner good will with these folks. They will likely start returning the favor, helping to spread your posts and brand to their networks. Consider:

  • Allied businesses: Adult Day Centers, local Meals on Wheels, senior centers, medical supply companies.
  • Your referrers: Assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, large medical practices, geriatricians, oncologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists. For home care and care managers (with a private pay clientele), also LIKE and SHARE posts of elder law attorneys and financial planners.
  • Local chapters of national organizations: The Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, for example. They often post about national issues and are a fine source of shareable material.
  • Your own trade association: National, state, and local chapters frequently have Facebook pages and post about current events that may affect your clients.
  • Similar businesses outside your service area: If a hospice or care manager posts about something cool happening in their area or makes a cogent observation, LIKE and SHARE. It shows you are paying attention on the larger scale, but it will not be a promotion of a competitor.

Be consistent

The most difficult part about content marketing is having a consistent, high-quality presence. If you would like help with that, give us a call. We are not your average Internet marketer. We know elder care inside out and have been providing marketing assistance for hospices, care managers, home care, and home health since 2007. Contact me at tasha@elderpagesonline.com or give me a call at 707-477-0700 (Pacific time).