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Why Online Reviews Matter in Senior Living

Everyone knows online reviews can impact public perception of a senior living community. Yet for many, their understanding of these reviews isn’t as comprehensive as they’d like.

To unlock the full value and importance of online reviews requires a big-picture comprehension of what you’re trying to achieve, the motivations and actions of those involved, and the implementation of best practices to use reviews in your favor.

As part of a new series of blog posts, we posed some frequently asked questions about online reviews to Brandi Towns, director of content strategy, reputation and social, to pick her brain about their importance to your community.

The following are examples of the kinds of questions you should be (and frequently are!) asking about online reviews, and Brandi’s suggested best practices for answering them.

There’s been a great deal of awareness about the impact of online reviews. Why are online reviews so important in senior living?

For every person who writes an online review for a senior living community, there are hundreds of people reading it. Many are influenced in some way or another. It’s also important to note that approximately 3 out of 4 people trust recommendations left by others who have had an experience with the community.

Not only do reviews persuade those considering visiting a community, but they also impact local search engine results (SERPS). Reviews are just one piece of a senior living community’s overall online reputation, but they’re an important piece of the equation that shouldn’t be overlooked.

 Who leaves reviews for senior living communities?

Here are some of the types of people we regularly see leaving reviews for communities:

  • The happy and engaged resident or couple

They’re typically community ambassadors — optimistic people who value life at their community. This goes without saying, but it’s important to find more of these advocates and encourage them to leave reviews.

  • The satisfied adult child

Sally couldn’t be happier that she moved her mom to Community X. She feels a huge weight lifted off of her shoulders, and has peace of mind knowing Mom will receive quality care. She wants to help others in her same situation by letting them know that moving Mom was a good decision. So Sally shares a glorious review. All is well. Thank Sally for her time, and keep impressing her, as she’ll be a huge advocate.

  • The adult child who suffers from guilt and feels helpless

Unfortunately, circumstances have caused this individual to be stressed and overwhelmed, and nothing seems to go right. You can expect some finger-pointing in this review. Do what you can to ease their burden. Help them become comfortable with the situation, and eventually change their mind about your community, turning them into a supporter.

  • The resident who feels no one is listening

This individual has voiced concerns to management, the dining team, health care team, operations, etc., but feel no one is addressing these concerns. So they go online and broadcast to anyone who will listen in an effort to get their voice heard. Listen to and address any and all offline complaints as best as you can before they make their way to public review sites. The more proactive you can be in this area, the better.

  • The notorious complainer

Oftentimes, not much will make this type of person happy. Usually that’s reflected in their reviews, and those reading these reviews will take their viewpoint for what it’s worth. As long as you have plenty of positive reviews, those will far outweigh the complainer’s complaints.

Where do you find most people are leaving reviews for senior living communities?

Facebook, Yelp, Google and are consistently in the top 4 review sites when it comes to senior living communities. Communities building their brand online should ask people to leave reviews on those sites first.

What are some of the reasons people write reviews about senior living communities?

Research shows that many people leaving reviews want to help others out. I think it’s fair to say that most people leave reviews about senior living communities for one of the following reasons:

  • Help other consumers make informed decisions about senior living options.
  • Help the community improve by providing honest feedback from personal experience. These individuals might suggest services that will make overall experience better. (Examples might include: the need for community-wide Wi-Fi, more convenient dining options, or more responsive staff.)
  • Help show off the community they call home, where they thoroughly love living life.
  • Get community leadership (and anyone else they possibly can) to listen and address their complaints.
  • Warn prospective residents or family members about their negative experiences.


At GlynnDevins, our associates are experts in their individual fields, and in the field of senior living. If you had a vote, what topics would you have them cover in this column in the future?

Next month, we’re covering Marketing Automation — so please share your marketing automation questions and ideas for future topics in the Comments field below.

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