2023 Will Be the Year of Storytelling

January 3, 2023

2023 Will Be the Year of Storytelling

“All senior living communities offer roughly the same services; the residents and staff are a community’s true differentiator.” –Anonymous senior living operator.

This comment, made by a well-respected senior living operator, surprised me as much as it probably just surprised you. He explained that communities all offer dining, activities, care and aide, rideshare services, living quarters of all shapes and sizes, and more. He believes that when a future resident chooses to live in a community, it is largely because of the experience he or she thinks they will have within the community.

And the best way to share that experience is through storytelling. We are all familiar with the concept of storytelling—the “interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination (storynet.org).”

While fundamentally, we all understand the basics of storytelling, sometimes it’s hard to imagine how we could tell our story differently. And sometimes, our need for brand and structure simply gets in the way of good storytelling. But they don’t have to.

How to Tell Your Story

Dean Palombaro, Director of Vibes at Foundation Health Services, uses videos to capture “life’s best secrets through the eyes of older adults and the people who serve them.” He captures quick videos of residents and staff and shares them with his following of more than 107,000 people who have given those videos 4.1M likes.

Why does storytelling work? How can you leverage it? And how can you promote it?

According to the National Storytelling Network, storytelling has five key elements; it:

  1. Creates an interaction between the person telling the story and the person (or people) listening. In fact, a good storyteller allows the listeners to influence the story.
  2. Uses a common language.
  3. Leverages actions, physical movements, or gestures to get a point across.
  4. Presents an actual story or narrative.
  5. Encourages the listeners’ active imaginations.

This last point—encourages the listeners’ imaginations—is why storytelling is such an effective way to attract future residents. It uses real people to help a future resident and family member imagine what it would be like to live in that community.

Why has storytelling been harder for operators to share?

Sometimes, the art of good storytelling falls outside of the boundaries of the approved brand structure. Perhaps a caregiver snaps a picture of a resident and wants to post it on social media, but the operator doesn’t have a model release. Or a family member posts a video of a resident inside a community, and it doesn’t follow the corporate format, so the community doesn’t re-post or share it. In fact, many operators are actually afraid to use video in their marketing because they feel the need to control the message and keep it “on brand.”

What if an operator put the brand structure aside and let the residents and employees “show” the brand in a very real way? Yes, it may not have all the right colors, and yes, it may not “feel” like a corporate piece, and that’s ok. Because when you put all of those structure elements aside, a real video shows what structure often prevents—your culture, your personality, and the experience of your brand.

Dean Palombaro said it best in one of his videos: He captures life’s best secrets through the eyes of older adults and the people who serve them. And isn’t that ultimately the best way to grow your brand?

Your community has a compelling story to tell, and Markentum wants to help you tell it. With a team of experts in content marketing, social media, graphic design, and more, we proudly work alongside our senior living partners to tell their amazing stories.

To learn more about digital marketing trends and best practices and to discover how we can help you tell your brand story, schedule your free evaluation today.


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