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Growing connection

Oak Crest uses popular social network to showcase community, foster online connections

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March 8th, 2017
Oak Crest resident Barbara Zorn uses Facebook on her iPad to stay in touch with family.

Oak Crest resident Barbara Zorn uses Facebook on her iPad to stay in touch with family.

A 2016 national survey conducted by Pew Research Center finds that the use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn is on the rise. But amongst older adults, Facebook has shown the greatest increase. According to the study, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (62%) now use Facebook, a 14-point increase from the 48% who reported doing so in 2015. 

Seniors age 60 to 86 cite many of the same reasons as their younger counterparts for flocking to Facebook, such as connecting with friends, staying in touch with family, and developing relationships with like-minded people, a Pennsylvania State University survey shows. 

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 life at their communities as well as an outlet for current residents across the country to connect. 

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“The Facebook page has two goals: awareness and connection,” says Erin Vernon, social media program manager at Erickson Living. “Through Facebook, we aim to increase engagement and interaction among residents, prospective residents, employees, and family members. There are 19 Erickson Living communities located in 11 states. Facebook provides the perfect venue to showcase the lifestyle we offer and to invite everyone to connect and come together.” 

Vernon says that kind of resident engagement 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.” 

In addition to Erickson Living’s Facebook page, Oak Crest, an Erickson Living campus located in Parkville, Md., debuted its Facebook page in December 2016. Jeff Getek, public relations manager for the community, monitors the page. 

“Traditional media is changing at a fast pace,” says Getek. “This is another way to keep up with the times. These days, most businesses have a Facebook page as part of their marketing efforts. It’s a great resource for people to learn what it’s like to live and work at Oak Crest. We feature human interest stories of the people who live here, share photos, and our in-house television station, Channel 973, posts videos from around the community. If there are any events open to the public, we will also list them on the Facebook page.”

Keep in touch

For Oak Crest resident Barbara Zorn, checking Facebook has become part of her routine.

“Facebook allows me to connect with my daughters, granddaughters, and extended family members as far away as Texas,” says Barbara. “I see their photos, and we trade messages.”

Of course, Barbara enjoys spending time with her family. But she understands that their lives are busy. And so is hers. Barbara serves as the resident member of the Oak Crest Board of Directors and teaches classes for the iPad Users Group, a resident-run group she cofounded.

“The convenience and ease of the social media site make it ideal for people of all ages. It’s even a search tool that I can access from my iPad or iPhone,” says Barbara, who served as executive director for the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants before retiring.  

“I also believe that seniors should stay knowledgeable about today’s technology,” she says. “Using Facebook is one way to do that.”

Barbara is one of a growing number of residents at Oak Crest who use social media for receiving news and keeping up with family and friends.

“Our residents and customers are more tech savvy than ever,” says Jim Antonakos, director of sales.  

Each building at Oak Crest—including every apartment home—is connected to Wi-Fi, enabling residents to use their computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet anywhere on campus. In addition to the iPad Users Group, a computer group offers resident-led beginner and intermediate classes on computing and related applications.  

“We certainly live in a digital age in which information is readily available at our fingertips,” says Antonakos.  “Many of our future residents and their families research senior living options on the Internet. Our Facebook page will be another resource for them.” 

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