Katie Roper

Are you looking to raise the awareness of your nursing facility? If so, content marketing should be a key part of your toolkit. Using content to engage prospective residents and their families early in their decision process ensures that your facility will be top of mind when the time comes for them to make a selection.  

Online content doesn’t have to break the bank!  Even marketers with a limited budget can do these easy things to provide valuable content to people who may be in need of their services.

  • Get consumer reviews: A cornerstone of online content

If you run a skilled nursing facility, your “star rating” is typically the Five Star quality rating issued by CMS.  For patients and their families searching for a nursing home, however, “star ratings” are all over the place, driven by consumer reviews posted everywhere from general sites like Google to industry-specific sites like the nursing home directory on caring.com.

Why pay attention to consumer reviews, when CMS ratings are based on objective data, while consumer reviews are subjective and anecdotal?  Because people who type the words “best nursing home in New York” into a search box don’t know why they should care about mid-loss activities of daily living — but they will certainly remember a story about Great Aunt Mary’s necklace being stolen at a nursing home that they read in an online review.  We’ve all grown accustomed to seeking out online reviews for everything nowadays, health care no less than hotels or restaurants.  

Nursing homes struggling to get out from under a negative assessment by CMS can actually leverage alternate sources of star ratings, such as review websites, to counteract a three-star (or lower!) rating from the government agency. Ask some of your happy residents and their families to post positive comments on a review site, and you can quickly acquire a five-star rating without having to wait for the next CMS assessment cycle. Just be sure you don’t try to game the system by providing incentives for people to post something that isn’t actually true.  Most quality review sites monitor reviews before they post them, and they are good at spotting fraud.

Best of all, consumer reviews are free – although you may want to invest a little bit to make it easier to track your online reviews. Review sites such as Caring.com offer this service for their partners, and there are also general reputation management services that will keep track of everything posted online using your name.

  • Try blogging

Another inexpensive content marketing option is a blog. Setting it up is easy, as long as you use one of the standard online tools like Wordpress, Squarespace, Tumblr, or Medium. Blogs make it quick and convenient to publish new content frequently, which is key to building a relationship with your prospective residents.

Don’t worry about writing the definitive article on signs of dementia, or treatment for macular degeneration; nationally known providers like The Mayo Clinic have more and better content available for free than you or I could ever come up with. Instead, focus on local issues that will resonate with people in your town. If there’s a stroke risk assessment day at a nearby hospital, write about that. People will appreciate you letting them know, and if you do it frequently, they’ll remember the name of your facility when they have a need.  
Post photos of your town’s Veterans Day parade and share stories of veterans your team has helped. Interview a local cardiologist or, better yet, invite her to write a guest post for you, and put it up on your blog with a link to her website. That way you’ll gain goodwill with a possible source of professional referrals – and get free content at the same time.
Likewise, consider contributing posts on other reputable organization’s blogs that reach your target audience, such as Huffington Post, senior care websites, or local community blogs.  This helps grow awareness of your nursing facility and expertise, and could be a source of referrals as well.   

Where ever you post: Be sure to use jargon-free language in your posts.  Normal people think you run a nursing home, not a SNF, and they don’t have any idea what an ADL is.

  • Use social media to build relationships

Sites such as Facebook have taken content marketing to a whole new level, by making it easy for people to share content they find interesting, engaging, or humorous with tens, hundreds, or thousands of people. Facebook can be tricky for nursing homes, though, due to health-related privacy restrictions, so don’t just turn your login credentials over to a summer intern.  

Instead, focus on posting notices of local events, or photos of your staff (with their permission, of course), or re-post health-related content such as alerts from the CDC or articles in your local paper. If you’ve got an activity going on take photos of residents participating, although be sure you do it from behind so that faces are not shown. Many of the consumer reviews sites will also allow you to share an excellent reviews you receive on your Facebook page — which can build goodwill among your existing clients and staff, entice new patients and their families, and spark even more positive feedback from those you serve. Inspirational or light-hearted “memes” are also a wonderful way to connect with your Facebook followers — you can create them yourself or share some from others.  

Content marketing doesn’t have to be a big budget endeavor taking most of your time. It can be done through these simple steps and others.

If you need more ideas for your content marketing, Caring.com posts monthly “Content Sparks” on our own blog, to give senior care companies ideas for stories, memes, and blogs.  We also have tips on requesting consumer reviews and on responding to them.  See more at http://partners.caring.com

Katie Roper is the vice president of marketing and sales of Caring.com, a free senior care resource for consumers.