We've already offered some suggestions on how to strategically use Twitter to drive awareness of your hospice organization. This week we're exploring the basics of using Facebook. Facebook still remains the number one social media site. Nearly 80% of online adults are using Facebook. The following is a breakdown of Facebook demographics courtesy of the fine folks at the Pew Research Center:

Hospice decision-makers come from all stages of life, but the average caregiver is nearly 50-years-old. Because a significant percentage of your key audiences are active Facebook users, you have a great opportunity to connect with them using this social media site.

Below are the steps you should be taking if you're looking to improve your Facebook marketing efforts.

Step 1: Create a Facebook Page for Your Organization

This may seem like a profoundly simple suggestion, but, in our travels, we've noticed that some hospices don't have a company page on Facebook. If you're one of those organizations, then hop to it! Aside from the fact that hospice audiences are active Facebook users, you're neglecting to provide current and potential clients with the information they need (namely, organization contact information and up-to-date information regarding services and events).

Step 2: Determine a Strategy

What do you hope to accomplish with your Facebook page? Do you want to gain followers? Do you want people interacting with your posts? Or do you simply want to bring awareness to your hospice organization and its services? These are just some of the numerous strategies that you can implement for your company's Facebook page.

A good strategy also includes identifying your audience(s). Most hospice decision-makers are over 50, and they tend to be female. Consider what kinds of information this specific demographic will be most responsive to.

Step 3: Create and Share Good Content

Once you've determined a Facebook strategy, you're ready to create content. Awareness and education are two great content strategy ideas, particularly if you're you're new to Facebook. It's important to provide hospice decision-makers with content that is current and easy to understand.

An important audience to remember when you're creating content is the community in which your hospice operates.  "Community" may vary—from small towns to several counties—depending on the size of your organization. Many hospice organizations rely on the support of their communities to operate, so make sure you’re keeping them informed of upcoming events (fundraising and otherwise) as well as showing them the impact their support and donations have on the success of your hospice.

Ultimately, information is the most important content you can provide to your Facebook audiences. In fact, most Baby Boomers use social media to gather information. And more than half of these users will continue on to a company's website or use a search engine to learn more about a company if they originally saw the information on social media. This is good news for your overall digital strategy, which should always include directing traffic to your website. Based on data from Boomers surveyed by DMN3, 17% of this population spends 11 hours or more per week on Facebook. So, give them a reason to spend some of those hours viewing and interacting with your brand.

As you develop content ideas, it's good to get into the habit of asking yourself whether or not the information you're providing is purposeful and accessible.

Step 4: Listen to Your Audience

It will take time and strategy to build your audience, but, once they come, it's very important that you listen to and engage with them. All social audiences want to feel like organizations are listening to them. This is particularly true of hospice audiences given how personal and intimate the nature of hospice-care is to your clients. This step ultimately boils down to providing good customer service.

For further reading, check out "What Customers Really Want From Your Facebook Page," courtesy of Hootsuite. While not hospice-specific, the article builds on guidelines we've provided above.

There you have it! Four easy steps to get you on your way to developing a better Facebook strategy for your hospice organization.