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To attract prospective employees or residents, your senior living community must meet them where they are. If you’re hoping to meet them on social media, new research provides a roadmap of sorts.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 5,733 US adults from May to September 2023 about their social media use and published its findings Jan. 31. Some of the results may surprise you.

Across all age groups, YouTube had the highest percentages of people who said they had ever used one of the social media platforms included in the survey (that means 60% of those aged 65 or more years said they had ever used YouTube; it was 83% for those aged 50 to 64, 92% for those aged 30 to 49, and 93% for those aged 19 to 29). Providers with decent-quality videos should consider posting them there. But the survey’s other results may be more meaningful for everyday engagement.

The other platforms poll participants were asked about were BeReal, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, SnapChat, TikTok, WhatsApp and X (formerly Twitter).

Perhaps not surprisingly, social media may not be the best place to try to engage potential residents directly. But your best social media bet for interacting with those aged 65 or more years may be on Facebook; 58% of survey respondents in this age group reported using this platform. By comparison, Pinterest was the next most-used form of social media for the oldest adults in the survey, with 21% of people in this age group saying they had used Pinterest.

Facebook also appears to be a good place to meet and engage with the adult children of prospects; 69% of survey-takers aged 50 to 64 told Pew they had used the platform, and even more adults aged 30 to 49 (75%) said they had used it. Outside of YouTube, Facebook was the most-used social media platform for those groups and, as with the oldest adults, numbers for the next most-used social media platform didn’t come close.

For those aged 50 to 64, the next most cited forms of social media were Instagram (35%) and Pinterest (33%). For those aged 30 to 49, the next most cited social media platforms were Instagram (59%) and Pinterest and LinkedIn (tied at 40% each).

If limited resources mean that your community needs to pick just one platform on which to be active, Facebook might be it, as even 67% of those aged 18 to 29 reported being active there, according to Pew’s findings. But for this youngest group, outside of YouTube, the most popular social media sites were Instagram (78%) and, coming in lower than Facebook, SnapChat (65%).

A parting caveat: The survey asked adults whether they had “ever” used the various social media types, so the findings may not represent their current use. Researchers also saw differences based on respondents’ gender, race/ethnicity, income, education, rural/suburban/urban residence and political affiliation. So you’ll want to explore the results more and view them through the perspective of your community’s particular situation. Maybe they even could serve as the basis for your own survey.

To help you in your outreach efforts, see more survey results here and a fact sheet here.

Lois A. Bowers is the editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Read her other columns here. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at Lois_Bowers.