Want to extend your social media reach?

Health care social media succeeds by keeping things simple and clear. Here are four tips for getting messages out to the public.

It’s a common problem when developing social media content for a medical practice—patients don’t want or need the in-depth details of the latest medical research, but there’s only so much information you can give them safely outside of a consultation. How do you keep your accounts active without repeating yourself endlessly or offering only obscure medical factoids?

Great health care social media works because it’s simple. Before you compose your next blog post or Facebook update, consider these four communications tricks:

Make a list

Everyone loves a list. This is a core tenet of modern content writing, which is why you find numbered posts with short-form content all over the web these days. Lists are easily digestible when readers don’t have time to dig into complicated details. They keep the reader’s attention.

The other reason lists are so popular with content developers is that by structuring your content as a list you’re also laying the groundwork for future social media posts. Each tidbit can become a tweet or a Facebook update. For example, a list about reducing acne breakouts can turn into a week of social media tips and be recycled in other ways.

Pick a purpose

One of the advantages of working as a health care communicator is that you can find an almost endless variety of niche awareness days, weeks or months. Use these to your advantage when posting by jumping on widely-used hashtags and sharing relevant information. If you work with a neurologist, for example, you might use August—Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month—to post about SMA awareness , fundraisers, treatments and resources. Pick a new, specialty-appropriate condition to post about on a regular basis.

Reach patients and caregivers

For most products, marketers rely on different buyer personas to craft messaging, allowing content developers to create variations on similar content—how to use the same software for several different industries, for example. In health care, however, it’s harder to break down content in this way because everything is already carved into specialties and sub-specialties. One division most specialties still contain, though, is the one between patients and caregivers, or in the case of products, between consumers and providers.

Make a point of developing content between these core groups no matter how they break down in your corner of the health care world. You’ll want to avoid any jargon in patient-oriented posts, while those targeted at caregivers might use a more advanced vocabulary. Similarly, you might take a different angle when discussing a condition with a caregiver than with a patient, or when providing resources for a child as opposed to an adult.

Mix your media

Finally, to stretch your health care content as far as possible, make sure you’re sharing information in different forms. Link to the same article using different images, or share a video instead of an image . Make use of infographics, quotes and questions. Especially when working with short-form content like tweets and Facebook updates, small changes can extend your basic material for a long time.

Regular social media posts are the best way to expand your reach. These strategies will boost your professional presence without eating away at your time.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn .


One Response to “Want to extend your social media reach?”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Five additional opportunities—information you can give readers—may help you to increase your success.

    .1. Give good news. Writing for PR Daily, PR executive Laura Shubel pointed out that “in the end, no news is just bad news,” so ask your doctors about recent medical journal articles that will make readers happy if you report the good news in language patients understand.

    .2. Give safety information. Most doctors can tell you of common patient actions and omissions that are dangerous to health. If you report these in a “Health Do’s and Don’ts” piece, patients will appreciate that the practice is reaching out to help patients.

    .3. Give information about symptoms to watch for. Patients
    Care deeply, the information may help patients detect trouble early when medical care ma do the most good, and your doctors may appreciate that your writing is bringing in patients for needed examinations.

    .4. Give tips on information sources—government agencies, medical societies and health organizations—that have websites or printed literature you readers can access free.

    .5. Give good news about the efficacy of labs and imaging
    facilities to which your practice refers patients. It makes patients happy to know of the excellence—and gives patients an additional reason to be glad they are using your practice.

    Giving this information helps patients, helps the practice and builds client appreciation of your work. Give, it is said, and ye shall receive.

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