The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

Community Care & Engagement— Connect, Feedback, And Interact

Finalist in Customer Service


Showcasing our journey of the new normal for AARP: Social contact, and how our members are reaching out to us on their terms, in channels they're comfortable with, thus, reinforcing the multi-dimensional value of the organization.

Strategy and Execution

The AARP Social Response Team forges the ongoing social care strategies, processes, and official responses to AARP consumers as they interact with our digital content across channels. Our strategic pillars guide our goals: to Monitor, Consult, and Engage. We want to act as the real-time beacon for AARP's 'outside-in' brand identity and reputation.

A scrappy and hardworking team of 15 (comprised of internal and 3rd party individuals), the Social Response function is still relatively new (2 yrs), and we are now meeting the pent up demand that was not being met at all in our social channels. The addition of this new operation has widened the interaction channel choice of the 50+ community, so we can be there to meet them where they are. Once established, we then focused on some key initiatives to improve the experience:

Centralization and Consistency - By funneling our social channels into one tool to engage, we were able to ensure all answers across properties were consistent and that all processes scale. In addition to our social response agents, we also have 50 state offices who have their own social properties as well, so we began to coordinate with them so they can be properly equipped with consistent responses for non-local questions. As a result, we built an internal "Communications Hub" on our organizations's intranet, to create a centralized space to drive state contacts for information that will align with AARP's social response guidelines for consistency and future reference.

Thoughtfulness in language – Empathetic language is key to many of our conversations, particularly when we converse around sensitive topics . This ladders up to our pillars by expressing our values of empathy, honesty, and humanity, as well as inspiring trust. For example, with caregiving, we implemented a more empathic, intimate, and personal approach on responding to those facing challenges that can take an emotional toll caring for their aging family members. We developed a refresher training course with our agents where members of the team walked through examples that encouraged better responses that deviated from standard message templates. The aim of these responses is to acknowledge the member's story first, with providing resources as a secondary goal.

Educating and Advocating – As a social mission organization, we are constantly educating consumers on social as to what we offer, where we stand on issues, and what AARP is/is not. By stepping into conversations where some consumers may have preconceived perceptions of us, we can directly influence the interaction and turn detractors into promoters, which is powerful within such a public channel.

For instance, many consumers think we are an insurance company, but what we do is refer members to insurance partners. Some think we are politically leaning to the right or left (we hear both) but we are a bi-partisan organization advocating for any issues that will positively affect the 50+ and how they live as they age. Some of these conversations actually equate to new AARP memberships.

Surprise and Delight – As we build our pool of brand ambassadors, it is important to us that we recognize them. Over time we are seeing members of our community backing up our comments or jumping in to answer other consumers before we even get to them, which is so encouraging as we are working to enhance our brand perception. Sometimes if we see a lot of 'cheerleader' activity, we will write them a handwritten note and send along a gift of some kind (maybe a gift card or AARP branded item related to the topic they were engaged in). In fact, we incorporated social into AARP's long standing Make It Right program, where we empower staff to offer a gift to make good on the customer's inconvenience and to thank them for giving AARP a chance to make it right .


The Social Response team had a very successful year, that resulted in surprising and engaging conversations which revealed new ways to increase member engagement and loyalty. As we continue to 'wire in' more of our social properties to widen the amount of channels that we service (we are now at 25+ channels, including social media, article comments, community forums, and app reviews) we will be able to see deeper effects on NPS, membership renewals, and membership lifetime value numbers. Other success metrics include:

Cost reduction – Since a social interaction costs us around .82 vs a phone call at $3.36 we've seen a roughly 24% cost reduction by using digital channels for support. But of course we are also meeting some extra demand that we were not before as well.

Training – Being a social response agent in our contact center tends to be somewhat of a 'reward' position. The agents that have secured these positions have maintained long tenures so agent retention across the board is at 100%. They love the role. All of our original agents are still performing the same function in social now for two years.

NPS – Although we do not directly survey our members in social, the social channel is added into our total support distribution funnel, of which we have seen a jump in our general NPS score from a 48 in Q1 to a 49.5 in Q2 of 2018.

Commentary – Social Response engagements consistently drive 20-30% of total engagement on our Facebook channel depending on what campaigns are being run. We are looking to see this increase as we start to centralize our state Facebook pages within these counts.

Demand Drivers – Members go to different support channels to ask different questions or converse on different AARP topics. We found that our social channels have the largest distribution of Advocacy engagements than any other channel, along with questions about general AARP benefits.

Caregiving- Once the updated "more personal and human approach" caregiving protocol was implemented in March, we started to notice a difference right away. We were successful in raising our overall positive sentiment distribution by 6%. We also saw a positive reaction from our community that resulted in an increase in responses. Most importantly, commentary on Caregiving Branded Content Increased 177%.

VOC- With this boost of engagement on our social channels over the past two years, our Facebook and Twitter Voice of Customer (VOC) pipeline has grown so much in social that these two channels now make up 40% of the incoming feedback pipeline (others are in calls, emails, and NPS surveys).


Entrant Company / Organization Name



Entry Credits