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Social studies

Charlestown uses popular social network to showcase community, connect residents

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April 16th, 2015
Charlestown resident Ann McKay
Charlestown resident Ann McKay

A recent study from Pew Research Center shows the use of Facebook and other social networks is on the rise among older adults. For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook, up from 45% who did so in late 2013 and 35% who did so in late 2012. Among those who go online, Pew found that 71% do so every day or every other day, while 11% do so three to five times a week.

Erickson Living is tapping into the social media market with its own Facebook page in an effort to give prospective residents an inside look at what life is like at its communities, as well as an outlet for current residents across the country to connect. 

‘Like’ us

“The Facebook page has two goals: awareness and connection,” says Erin Vernon, marketing projects coordinator at Erickson Living. “Through Facebook, we aim to increase engagement and interaction among residents, prospective residents, employees, and family members. There are 18 Erickson Living communities located in 10 states. Facebook provides the perfect venue to showcase the lifestyle we offer and to invite everyone to connect and come together.” 

In addition to Erickson Living’s Facebook page,

“When someone clicks the ‘Like’ button or posts a comment on our page, their friends may also see Charlestown’s name appear in their newsfeed, and the number of people who read about Charlestown increases exponentially,” says Grove.

This January, Charlestown Public Affairs Manager Mel Tansill started a yearlong social media campaign on Facebook called 365 Days of Charlestown featuring a different Charlestown resident each day (facebook.com/events/312037282319624).

“I wanted to do something that would blend social media together with Charlestown residents’ lives each and every day of the year,” says Tansill. “Facebook is the perfect venue to showcase residents’ personalities and their individual, unique life values.” 

Along with their photo and former occupation, Tansill asks each featured Charlestown resident their thoughts on virtue, happiness, and their motto in life. 

“Residents tell me they enjoy reading about their neighbors through the 365 Days project,” says Tansill. “To my knowledge, no organization has ever had a project of this nature.”

Community member Ann MacKay was featured as part of the 365 Days project. Ann taught a “Facebook for Beginners” class at Charlestown and personally uses Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family.  

“It’s so easy to get started on Facebook. You kind of just learn as you go,” says Ann, who has been on Facebook since 2007. “I usually look at my Facebook page twice a day. I have both Charlestown and Erickson Living’s pages on my newsfeed, so I am getting the information every time I log on. It’s a great way to keep up with different things going on in the community.”  

Change of heart

Charlestown resident Joy Gould was reluctant to start using Facebook but discovered it was the easiest way to connect with her son in California. 

“Email was always my preferred method of communication, but that doesn’t work for his generation,” says Joy. “After I started spending more time on Facebook, I connected with people from different eras of my life—people I haven’t had contact with for more than 40 years. It’s been a lot of fun to reconnect with people.”  

Joy occasionally posts photos and comments to both the Erickson Living and Charlestown Facebook pages. 

“This winter during the snowstorm, we posted photos of the campus,” says Joy. “That is one of the great things about the Erickson Living and Charlestown Facebook pages—they give outsiders a flavor for what life is like here, things you might otherwise not see on the website, for example.”  

Vernon says it’s that kind of resident engagement that also lends authenticity to Erickson Living’s message. 

“Consumers are always more interested in what other customers have to say,” says Vernon. 

“Residents, employees, family members, and industry partners regularly chime in on the conversations. Our residents and employees are the stars of Erickson Living, and our Facebook fans love hearing about them!” 

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