In the September Industry Insider Newsletter I posted an article – Should Assisted Living Communities Manage Their Online Reviews? The response was mostly positive from my e-blast to clients and colleagues.
“Mostly,” because some readers replied that the article was too long – almost 1,200 words – with four footnotes – including: a 22-minute-long podcast, a 20-slide PDF presentation, and a Nielsen Press Release – What can I say?
Offer me a data-driven task and I can be effusive in the fast-paced digital world where I operate. This constructive feedback of colleagues has been invaluable in my decision to re-issue a concise, easy-reading version of online Reviews while paying close attention to the data.
Types of Media
There are three types of media to project your message or brand:
Communities need to determine the most effective format for their target audience. But, first, here are some easy media definitions.
Paid media are one-directional, controlled by the publisher, and often interrupt the audience’s attention through repetitious messages.
Owned media can be one or bi-directional, because the initial message is controlled by the publisher, but offers comments by the audience. The most common forms of Owned media are blog posts and Advertorials.
Earned media are messages that are free of publisher control, including comment cards, unpaid public endorsements and product placements, and word of mouth advertising.
Online reviews and testimonials comprise the fastest growing part of today’s Earned Media. According to Nielsen’s 2011 Media Survey, the media format most trusted by individuals is Earned media including reviews on websites and comments left on blog posts.
Paid media formats, both online and offline, occupy most of the bottom half of trusted media.
Communities seeking conversions from publications and advertising need to lessen Paid media and focus on Earned and Owned media. They will build greater word of mouth and trust with stakeholders and prospective residents by focusing marketing efforts on Reviews and Social Media.
Social or Reviews?
Because reviews generate their own Social benefits and build reputation, a well-designed and well-executed Review strategy will be more effective than the best Social strategy.
Studies have shown that a 1-star rating on Yelp.com benefited restaurants from a 5% to 9% increase in revenues over those that had no rating on Yelp.com. Every additional star rating for an independent restaurant will benefit by an additional 5% to 9% in revenues.
If reviews generate additional restaurant revenues, what could they mean for Assisted Living Community’s revenues, especially if competitors are afraid of embracing them?
Reviews Have Multiple Benefits
Consumers look to all trusted information sources to tip the balance of the sales transaction. Online reviews are the closest form of trusted media, except for personal recommendations, which are in short supply.
Communities with a high volume of online reviews gain online visibility. Search engines rank websites higher with a large number of reviews and open comments than sites with little change. Community posting a variety of reviews on a regular basis elevate their online presence and rank ahead of competitors.
Lessons for Learning
This re-write has taught me the value of listening to people that I care about in the Senior Living industry. All Communities need to embrace Reviews as the most effective online means of reaching out to their targeted audience – seniors and their families – and as a means of staying active in the competitive landscape.
If you want to connect with me to discover more about managing your online reputation with Reviews, find me on LinkedIn here.