6 ways hospitals can make a lasting impression on social media

Communicators dream of having a trending topic that brings accolades to their brand. If that doesn’t happen right away, here are tips to lay the groundwork.

We are so beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Hospitals and businesses are using Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Vimeo, Digg, Flipboard and Instagram.

Social media must continue to play a role in the current consumer-driven health care arena, but how do marketers manage this growing field? There are more than 1 billion active users on Facebook alone, according to The Guardian, so a targeted effort is essential.

Most health care communicators dream of making their organization the next trending topic (for something positive) or having an impressive video go viral.

Whether it’s Facebook or Snapchat, consider these tips to help set a solid foundation:

Deliver incentives.

Perhaps the analogy is overused, but people jump at carrots. Their local hospitals, though, may not be a priority. If your goal is to add users, you can create incentives that get patients “liking” the hospital’s pages. For example, marketers can plan a drawing for gift cards for everyone who shares a post. To be eligible for the drawing, you may want to start a hashtag campaign and enter everyone who posts with the proper hashtag.

Make it easy.

Patients must know that you exist. Make it easy for them to find—and follow—you. Use links on all of your social media sites, blogs, Web pages, and in email signatures, too. Include URLs on brochures and business cards. Your Web address should be a permanent part of invoice and stationery letterheads. Promote your Web presence at brick-and-mortar locations, too.

Adding “Follow Us on Facebook” to printed marketing materials, front desk signage and emergency department waiting rooms can also increase your online exposure. People waiting to see a doctor are usually on their phones or scrolling through their tablets. When they see your hospital is active on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, it’s likely they will follow or “like” your pages.

Get others involved.

Ask your staff and any health care professional associated with the hospital to follow the social media pages. If each staff member has at least 100 “friends,” then every post will be seen, and potentially “liked,” by thousands of people.

Stay current.

Don’t just post marketing tidbits about the hospital on social media sites. The page can trend by creating discussions about issues that are relevant to readers and consumers. Post about health care news, provide tips on timely topics and community events. Do you recall that Scott & White Health Care provided social media updates when they were treating victims of the Fort Hood shooting in Texas?

Make it personal.

Mayo Clinic is a stellar example. It has its own social media network that sponsors health promotion campaigns, including one specifically about heart health. Their doctors contribute content regularly about trending matters, too. At Nebraska Medical Center, QR codes are available so patients can watch videos to get acquainted with their physicians.

Provide good customer service.

Invite community members to provide feedback about your organization via a Facebook page. This shows followers that you care about what people think of your facility and staff. It also localizes complaints. An unhappy consumer is going to go online and vent. This opens up a line of communication, so you can contain the problem before it becomes a fire.



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