Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2012 Contents Like it or not, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and
blogs have wrenched the talking stick from the hands
of the powerful few and delivered it into the hands of
any individual. They've flipped traditional 'one-way'
marketing communication on its head and unleashed
a collective strength of voice. It's not about the technology, it's
about the fundamental shift in the way we now communicate
with one another; and the aged care industry is not exempt from
having to adapt to a consumer-driven marketplace.
For those of you who are about to switch off, think about
the introduction of email and the impact that has had on our
workplaces. Remember how people felt about it when it was first
introduced into our approach to work? A dozen years or so down
the track we spend our days working through our inbox. It won't
take so long for social media to drive the way we do business -- no
matter the sector.
Social media is typically perceived as a place for young people to
engage with celebrities or for people who want to share details of
their menial daily tasks. In reality, it yields far deeper value.
Social media platforms enable individuals with similar
interests, problems or tastes to gather online, forming
'communities' where they can share opinions and seek referrals.
They are finding expression in a wide range of areas from simply
commenting on news stories or blogs; sharing information,
websites, videos, opinions and ideas via Twitter and Facebook;
establishing targeted blogs and newsletters; signing up to
Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups; and sharing information
virally through increasingly clever use of tags and keywords.
These communities are rendering traditional demographic market
segmentation alone (such as income or gender) inaccurate.
Positive online 'word of mouth' (WOM) is now the second
most influential form of recommendation (after face-to-face
recommendation) and it doesn't matter whether you know that
person or not. When leveraged effectively by aged care providers,
online communities can become powerful vehicles for aged
care advocacy and community engagement -- functions that are
increasingly important with the growing emphasis on consumers
in aged care policy and service provision.
The Commonwealth Government's Living Longer, Living
Better aged care reform package, released in April, indicates a
number of rising consumer needs including, "the preference to
receive care in the community over residential care, the need
for better information about the quality of aged care services to
enable consumers to make more informed decisions about the
care they need, and the increased need for care recipients to be
able to access social inclusion programs and advocacy services".
This shift to a customer-focused approach is strongly
aligned with the principles and strengths of social media and,
understood and used properly, will help aged care providers
better comprehend and respond to the issues faced in consumer
decision-making, while also providing useful insights into how
aged care providers, and their specific services, are perceived.
An undeniable advantage of social media is its scale and reach
in terms of online brand visibility for aged care providers. It also
makes good economic sense. There is a significantly reduced cost
to time and budget compared with using traditional marketing
approaches alone to build and strengthen brand presence with all
stakeholders in the wider aged care community - from families, to
local government and media.
WORKING OUT THE WORKPLACE
Discussions among employees on social networks are not new for
the aged care sector but there has been a considerable increase
in employee-related groups being created on social networks
to discuss issues and share ideas. Discussion has ranged from
high levels of criticism for the industry, emotive defence of the
industry and various topics in between.
In an organisational context, it is possible to harness this
activity to improve communication and foster co-operation
between employees but it is essential to have adequate guidelines
and education for staff about the potential risks, both inside and
outside the workplace environment.
It is worth remembering that many aged care workers who
have never had a computer, now carry the internet in their
Marketing and branding
are important to
then you need to
in the places
where they like to
connect. Failing to
with new social
media platforms may
be the death knell
for some aged care
avoid at own risk
32 | JULY -- AUGUST 2012 | AAA
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