Social Media & Senior Living: Which Channels should my Community be on?

Grandpa joined Snapchat and is now saying that everything’s ‘lit’. Should I be concerned?

  1. Maybe.
  2. If you’re a senior living marketer, you might see an opportunity once you get past the cringe-fest.

Change happens fast – on social media it happens in real-time – and with over 60 social networks (and growing) available in 2018, the question has shifted from ‘Should our senior living community have a presence on social media’ to, ‘What’s the best social media platform for my community?’

Your senior living community can’t be everything to everyone. It will need to prioritize efforts accordingly with its social media marketing strategy to engage with, and capture the attention of, the maximum amount of digitally savvy seniors and adult-child influencers. While ‘Snapchat Grandpa’ might be an enticing move-in for your community, is he the norm, or an outlier?

We dive into the latest Pew Research data to help your senior living marketing team “go where the people are” so it isn’t spinning its wheels by chasing bright and shiny objects. In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Which social networks have the greatest number of seniors actively on them in 2018, to determine where your community should place its social media marketing efforts
  • Two recommended social media platforms guaranteed to set your senior living marketing team up for engagement opportunities with today’s digitally savvy seniors

One Social Network to Rule them all? Or Diversified Attention? Social Media Adoption Rates 2018

While today, roughly seven-in-ten Americans are on social media, that wasn’t always the case – especially concerning seniors. Since 2011, social media adoption percentages rose from 38% to 64% (as of January 2018) with the 50-64-year-old cohort group.

Pew Research documented similar spikes with the 65+ year-old cohort group. In 2011, social media adoption rates were a paltry 14%, and has since climbed to 37% in January 2018.

It’s important to note: while the adoption rate percentages of both the 50-64-year-old cohort group and the 65+ year-old cohort group aren’t close to surpassing the current adoption rates of adult-child influencers – at 88% for the 18-29-year-old cohort group and 78% for the 30-49 year-old cohort group – the dramatic year-over-year growth of senior social media adoption shouldn’t be taken lightly. Social, digitally savvy seniors are here, and senior living marketing teams need to cater content to engage with them.

Where Seniors get Social in 2018: Usage Stats for Social Media Marketers

Digitally savvy, social seniors are here, but what social networks do they prefer in 2018? We break down the top social networks for both the 50-64-year-old cohort group and the 65+ year-old cohort group from Pew Research’s latest data. While Facebook shouldn’t be a shock, some platforms may surprise your senior living marketing team.


  1. YouTube – 68%
  2. Facebook – 65%
  3. Pinterest – 26%
  4. LinkedIn – 24%
  5. Instagram – 21%
  6. Twitter – 19%

For the 50-64-year-old cohort group, the clear front runners for active social activity are YouTube and Facebook. The social media usage percentages on Pinterest down to Twitter were too close to make an actionable recommendation for senior living marketing teams. Your community will need to make the determination regarding which social channels to prioritize based on your immediate geographic area and the data your senior living marketing/social media team has at its disposal.

65+ Year-Olds:

  1. Facebook – 41%
  2. YouTube – 40%
  3. Pinterest – 16%
  4. Instagram – 10%
  5. LinkedIn – 9%

With the 65+ year-old cohort group, the usage percentages are slightly more cut and dry. Seniors 65+ and older use YouTube and Facebook less than their 50-64-year-old cohort counterparts, but we expect to see these percentages continually rise as seniors become more comfortable with social media. Adoption rates will continue to climb and will be an engagement opportunity for senior living social media marketers.

Popularity Contest: Which Social Media Platforms do Americans use the most?

This graph courtesy of Pew Research Center represents the total user base percentages of adults who are on each social media platform. YouTube still edges Facebook out, but as a platform, Facebook is largely representative of the U.S. population and is still the clear frontrunner of the traditional social media model.

Is your senior living marketing team surprised by the results on the graph? Intuitively, practitioners who have been handling the social media marketing strategy for their communities may have been able to predict which platforms are the most popular without knowing the exact percentages. But knowing this, your team will be able to engage with prospective move-ins with confidence.

To ensure your senior living community aligns its social media marketing strategy to its organizations best interests, our team recommends communities have an active presence on the following channels/platforms.

1.) Facebook – While our team has addressed Facebook’s shrinking organic reach for posts back in January when it announced its change to News Feed, the 2.19 billion active monthly user base isn’t one to scoff at. Facebook is still the reigning social media marketing leader, though communities will have to boost posts with a paid budget to see real engagement results in 2018. Facebook was designed with friendship in mind, so be sure to play up the family-friendly elements of your community.

That’s not to say organic reach from businesses is dead on Facebook. Rather, to truly maximize the platforms capabilities to engage with prospective residents, do the following:

  • Create Groups
  • Ask Questions and encourage longform comments and discussions
  • Post “Live” Videos

Facebook is a recommended platform to reach both the 50-64-year-old and 65+ year-old cohort groups and will most likely remain a recommended platform to supplement your overall senior living marketing strategy.

2.) YouTube – Creators, brand enthusiasts, influencers, surfers unite! Both globally and in the U.S., YouTube ranks second for the amount of traffic it receives. Your senior living community has huge potential to leverage this traffic for your benefit, if effort, strategy, and creativity are duly dedicated. YouTube is a wonderful platform to educate and entertain your audience.

In fact, over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! It’s no wonder YouTube is a hit for both the 50-64-year-old and 65+ year-old cohort groups. To build that subscriber base so your senior living social media marketing team hits engagement payload, do the following:

  • Create your own unique channel for your community
  • Have fun, get creative, use “quick cuts” to adapt to YouTube’s viewing audience
  • Though you’re creating this for 50-64-year-old and 65+ year-old engagement, keep mobile users in mind
  • Consistently post videos so your subscribers know when to anticipate your content

The ways your senior living marketing team can use YouTube is endless. Make sure to encourage your audience to subscribe to your channel, to reinforce viewership and engagement.

Beyond both Facebook and YouTube, choose your social media marketing accordingly. Your team will need to determine local demographic data and trends before it making the determination for the other social media platforms Pew Research Center provided data on.

Keep the goals and expectations of each channels performance at the forefront of a social media marketing strategy, so your team doesn’t pull the plug on posts before they had the opportunity to take hold and build traction with your ideal audience.

Take Your Senior Living Social Media Marketing Strategy to the Next Level in 2018

Based on the data Pew Research conducted, the opportunity to engage and make an impact with seniors is undeniable. And as seniors become more accustomed and comfortable with technology, their adoption rates will continue to rise, which will in turn propel marketers to adapt to new innovative ways to make connections with these prospective move-ins.

While Pew Research cites that 10% of seniors in the 50-64-year-old cohort group uses Snapchat, and even fewer within the 65+ year-old cohort group – a mere 3% – don’t tell that to Bob Kelly. He uses Snapchat to connect with his grandkids.

Yes, ‘Snapchat Grandpa’ is a thing, and while he is an outlier, represents the innovative ways seniors are using social media to make connections. Your senior living community will have to use the data it has to make its own social media marketing determinations – aside from Facebook and YouTube. But of course, if your team needs help making that determination, or implementing its own strategy to connect with today’s digitally savvy senior, contact our team.

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