social media case studiesAre you looking for ways to engage with your employees and your local community?

Are you using social media to create awareness for the services you offer?

Keep reading as I reveal how a nursing home used social media to build a loyal local community.

Nursing Homes and Social Media?

Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and rehab communities are not known for being active in social media—yet.

But changes in Medicare mean communication with patients and families and the employees who care for them is more important than ever.

wapakoneta activities

Wapakoneta Manor is one of 24 HCF Management facilities on Facebook.

“The way that we’re going to be paid and the way we’re going to be gauged is changing; it’s evolving as we speak,” said Scott Unverferth, director of operations at HCF Management in Lima, Ohio.

New pay-for-performance models are on the horizon for managed care companies such as HCF.

HCF has 27 facilities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania that provide skilled nursing care, rehab care and assisted living. They have approximately 3,200 employees and have been in business since 1968.

In April 2012 they made the leap into social media and haven’t looked back.

Here’s how they’re making it work in the new healthcare environment.

Organization: HCF Management

Social Media Handles and Stats


  • 24 facilities across two states now on social media
  • A series of “Harlem Shake” videos filmed at 13 facilities received over 35,000 views
  • Quarterly average of 27% increased engagement across facilities since launching social media
  • 2,252 combined subscriptions to email newsletter

When HCF decided the time was right to get into social media, they knew they needed a trusted partner. “We really had zero experience,” said Unverferth.

For guidance, HCF turned to Jessika Phillips, president of NOW Marketing Group of Lima, Ohio, based on word of mouth in the community. HCF and NOW agreed to a pilot program for seven facilities, eventually adding 17 more.

After a two-month discovery process, NOW launched the first Facebook Pages last spring. “We wanted to understand their business and their audience as much as possible,” said Phillips. NOW also uses a HubSpot goal-setting template to help set SMART goals for each quarter, as well as longer-term goals.

NOW and HFC developed a plan to increase community awareness of the brand, reach decision-makers and engage employees.

#1: Be Hyperlocal

There is no HCF Management Facebook Page. Instead, there are 24 individual Facebook Pages for the different HCF facilities. The same is true for Twitter accounts, YouTube channels and Pinterest pages (added spring 2013).

During the discovery process, NOW realized that HCF needed to focus more on engagement than follower numbers. Creating Facebook Pages for each facility means they can post more engaging content for each site.

“We want to create brands where the feel on the Page is that they are cheerleaders for the community,” said Phillips.

celina high school

HFC champions others in their communities on their Facebook Pages.

“We create that kind of feel that we’re definitely engrained in the community and very supportive of it, and that tends to get really high engagement,” she added.

bycicle safety day

HCF facilities routinely post about community events.

NOW uses Scoreboard Social, a competitive social media analytics tool, to track their engagement, which aggregates all the Pages into one report for easier monitoring.

scoreboard social

NOW Marketing uses Scoreboard Social to track engagement.

#2: Reach Out to Decision-Makers

“In our business, the people who make the decisions are not necessarily the people who are having the service provided,” said Unverferth. A common scenario is that a person’s mother or father will go into the hospital and learn that they can’t go home. In two days, their family will have to find a nursing home. “We want people to know who we are before they have to make that decision,” Unverferth said.

On Facebook, posts are designed to educate, entertain, engage or show their expertise. Phillips also explained that they make sure to mix in general-interest posts so prospective decision-makers don’t feel like outsiders.

One of HCF’s most successful social media efforts has been a series of virtual tour and staff introduction videos on YouTube. Phillips said they have been a great tool for the HCF social workers and patient-relations representatives at the hospital.

hcf virtual tour videos

HCF virtual tour videos and staff videos are popular on YouTube.

She recounts one account manager’s story of a family that was looking to choose a nursing home for their mother. At first, some of the out-of-state siblings were recommending a different nursing home. But the sibling who lived nearby took a video tour of an HCF facility and then sent the link of the virtual tour to her family. After viewing the tour video and staff videos, the other siblings felt comfortable having their mother placed in the HCF nursing home.

Another unconventional way HCF used YouTube was with a series of “Harlem Shake” videos.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something unexpected?’” said Phillips.

The first video, shot at Van Wert Manor, received over 10,000 views in its first week, also spawning coverage on two local TV stations and two newspapers.

Van Wert Manor’s “Harlem Shake” video got over 10,000 views its first week

“For us, that’s amazing,” added Unverferth. “We could never have 10,000 customers look at our building in a week’s time… We are starting to reach some of the people who are going to be decision-makers. Maybe they’re not today, but I think they will be in the future.”

#3: Reach Out to Employees

Communicating with employees using the same social channels that you communicate with customers may seem counterintuitive. But in managed care, it makes sense. Relationships grow between staff and residents over what can be years of care, and social connections are important.

“It’s just so important that [staff] are involved and they know what’s going on,” said Unverferth.

Since employee satisfaction will figure into new formulas for payment, bringing employees into the social media mix makes good business sense as well.

To foster staff engagement on social media, HCF focuses on Facebook, an email newsletter and newly added Pinterest pages.

hcf employee on facebook page

HCF regularly posts about employees on their Facebook Page.

NOW introduced an email version of the printed newsletter that is distributed to residents. They ran a contest between facilities for the most signups, giving a pizza party to the winners. Over 2,200 employees and family members now subscribe.

hcf employee of the month

Each newsletter includes an Employee of the Month and Resident Success Story.

NOW also launched Pinterest pages to offer craft ideas for internal activities directors and wellness resources for families.

briarwood village pinterest page

NOW recently launched Pinterest pages as a resource for activities directors and family members.

The Power of Social Media in Managed Care

When the Roselawn Manor Care Community (an HCF Management community) got on Facebook, an administrator noticed a certain person liking and interacting with their daily posts. Shortly afterwards, that person referred a resident.

“After talking with this resident,” the administrator said, “she had mentioned that our Facebook Page and our daily fun and caring posts are what led her to our care community!”

When it comes to social media in the managed care arena, Phillips said,

“It’s important to take a risk and try it out before you’re trying to play catch-up.”

What do you think? How does this story resonate with you? Have you seen similar uses of social media to create awareness? How else can social media benefit industries like this one? Leave your comments and questions in the space below.

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  • Great case study that show how every kind of business with the right social media marketing strategy can achieve great results.

    Love it! Have a great day everyone!


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  • I really like that they determined what their post would do , “educate, entertain, engage or show their expertise.” I often call this the EIEIO, Old MacDonald had it right! (E) Entertain (I) Inspire (E) Educate (I) Inform (O) Outrage

    I see so many people and companies post, write, speak and create content without including any of these elements.

    Great post!

  • Louise Julig

    Glad you enjoyed the article, @patrickmcfadden:disqus. I agree that having a plan for your social media posts is the smart way to go.

  • Louise Julig

    Glad you liked the article. I am always interested to see how industries that you wouldn’t think of as using social media are putting it to really creative use.

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  • Last semester I was placed on a team of consultants in one of my classes. Our client was non profit organization that sent employees to take care of the elderly at their homes. We suggested that they start social media to spread the word, but they disregarded our suggestions thinking that it wouldnt be beneficial. This is an excellent article, and I wish that I could have used this to prove that social media could have benefited them.

    I really like the idea of creating separate social media accounts for each location. A lot of companies fail to do this, and create one account for their brand name. For example, a single facebook page across 10 locations suggests that their service is exactly the same, and this is just not possible. Every location has its own employees, services, and personalities, and it is important to let customers know exactly what they are looking at.

  • Chris

    Love the EIEIO shortcut

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  • Louise, thank you for sharing this powerful message. This article has left no stone unturned in proving that regardless of what business you’re in, Social Media CAN make a difference – both within your company, and within your community. Sometimes, larger companies only focus on reaching their “paying customers”, abandoning the importance of employee engagement and their involvement and reach within the community. Thank you again for sharing this article!

  • EmilyQuestions

    The Harlem Shake video – priceless!

  • No problem!

  • Felicity Fields

    I have a brick & mortar assisted living client that I’ve been trying to convince for months that social media is the way to go. Forgive me if I shouted from the rooftops when I read this case study!

  • Sarah Bauer

    Totally. This case study is the kind of example that so many small businesses can learn from – anyone who feels their industry is “too boring” or their resources are “too limited” for building a strong social community. The creativity here is awesome, especially with the mix of visual content – love the employee spotlights!

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  • Louise Julig

    I’m so glad it was helpful to you, @google-623b40ae50dc581591d2cf5b30a539ad:disqus! That’s why we do these case studies, so people can learn how others in their industry are taking advantage of social media.

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  • Louise Julig

    Thanks for your comments, @JohnLeeDumas:disqus. I thought it was really interesting that they are using the same social channels to engage employees, current customers/residents, family members, and the community. It completely makes sense in this context.

  • Jessika Phillips

    Thank you, Louise for writing this case study! Also, thank you Sarah for your feedback on our strategies. You’re right many small businesses can do really well on social media. They just need to be authentic and the right people will be attracted to them. We love working with HCF to come up with new ways to reach their employees and community. (:

  • Jessika Phillips

    Thank you! We invited all their family to be a part of the video too and watch their loved ones “Harlem Shake”. Now every time we go back to the nursing home the residence want ask they can do another video. It’s so sweet!

  • Jessika Phillips

    Yeah! Go for it! We’ve had a lot of success with HCF in social media but it took awhile to bring on everyone as a “believer”. If you need any help with numbers to pitch to your team let me know and I’ll send them your way.

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  • It can be tough to convince a client that Social is the way to go, and clearly, NOW was right on when they took HCF’s hand and said, “Let’s go!”
    Louise, this is such a great breakdown of what one company did to take their company to the next level on Social. I like how you’ve included 3 very distinct ways they got there so others can learn from this scenario and apply it to their own business. Thank you!

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  • You’re exactly right! That is what we told HCF and I’m very thankful they trusted us to do this with their brand. It’s very confusing and not as personal to create one mass page instead of individual pages.

  • Katie Elizabeth

    I loved that you provided pictures to correspond with the post. Very great case study. Do you think every business has the ability to utilize social media?

    –Katie for Heyo

  • Louise Julig

    I have not seen one yet that hasn’t been able to use some aspect of social media. Even very technical B2B companies and places like the nursing home. If they can benefit, I think every business can in one way or another.

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  • @ken_bane

    Great example of an SMB that gets Local Social. Lots of actionable specifics.

    Noticed that HCF Management doesn’t have a corporate twitter. I love their leadership in SoLoMo, they could elevate their thought-leadership in the industry by highlighting these types of leading edge approaches…

  • Tee Jay

    This is FANTASTIC! What did the two months of research entail. Any bench marketing of other ALF (assisted living facility) social sites or similar, surveys etc??

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  • Louise Julig

    @950def5949d5b398e8c65df9fe6cf1bf:disqus you can contact Jessika Phillips at NOW by going to their website (linked in the post) and I’m sure she would be happy to talk with you about their process. I’m so glad you liked the article.

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  • Bethany Lee

    Louise, thanks for a great case study. And Jessica, what an awesome thing you have done for that community. I grew up in Paulding and lived in Wapakoneta and Lima for 12 years, so seeing something like this to bring their communities together in such a way is very inspiring!! Way to go!

  • Lauren Ehle

    What a great case study! I work for a trade association made up of independent funeral homes, and it’s been so fun to see how our members have evolved their social media approaches in the last few years. Some of them are having a lot of fun with it! ( is a great example.) It goes to show that even professions that would seem to have a hard time connecting with social media can find ways to do it well.

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  • Sasha Blumenfeld

    This is a great article! I am currently doing research on how to find the best assisted living facilities and on the client side it is hard, especially when all the sites look similar. So, yes, their social presence is important to set them apart. Too many aren’t focusing on putting the necessary time into this marketing technique. However, that said, do you know where assisted living facilities are currently focusing their efforts?

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