Ten tips to help engage your residents online
1. Be human. Establishing your online voice will enable your organisation to have a distinct online presence. Be a real person and engage with your residents and keep your content regular.
2. Trust your staff to engage with your residents. If they can speak to them over the phone and interact face-to-face, they can surely engage with them online too? It is an instant form of communication and will also allow other residents to see what your staff have shared and get involved. It is also helpful to have more than one member of staff responsible for communicating through social media to allow variety.
3. Remember your residents and their specific needs. There is a huge variety of social media platforms available today, so you need to be making the most of these to interact with your residents.
****For example; if you are supporting a resident who has a visual impairment then platforms such as AudioBoo, SoundCloud and even YouTube can assist the resident in listening, rather than watching. The same goes for residents who make have a hearing impairment, platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook focus on the visual side of social media.****
4. Listen to your residents, hear what they are saying and then take the opportunity to respond. Communication is a two way conversation, so remember this when you interact online. When you are listening, you are allowing opportunity.
5. Respond. Whether it is an email, a mention, a tweet, a direct message, a compliant- you should always respond. This will increase your online activity and reputation.
6. Encourage residents to also create an online community of their own. Introduce them to Facebook pages and communities. As this is not something you control, it gives residents a chance to share their opinions and views with each other, to which you can also engage with. You might find they are more honest on these pages.
7. Be Inclusive. Do you know how many of your residents have access to a device with internet connection? You’re main concern is that you are inclusive. If your residents don’t have access, is there a public place they can visit to log on and use the internet? If not, is this something you can apply for funding for to enable all residents to have the opportunity to communicate via digital media?
8. Support your residents. So you have decided to communicate with your residents through social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, but do your residents actually know how to use these platforms? You could look at offering a ‘Social Media Workshop’ which demonstrates and trains your residents how to use these sites effectively.
9. Be open to change. It is great that you have moved from traditional means of communication! However, social media is ever changing, so you need to adopt this mentality. When new platforms are released, take the time to experiment with them as they could be highly suited to your organisation and your residents.
10. Complaints are good! They give you the opportunity to see what you can be doing different to improve your service. Just make sure you respond to their feedback and let them know what you will do to support their complaint. That personal touch will increase your reputation. Plus it allows other residents to see you are reactive in responding to their needs. All feedback is good feedback!