It’s no secret that consumers are searching online for health information. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 80% of Internet users, or 59% of U.S. adults are already doing so. In addition, 17% of cell phone owners have used their phone to look up health and medical information. The most searched topics include doctors or health professionals, diseases or conditions, and treatments or procedures. YouGov also reports that 81% of consumers believe that if a hospital has a strong social media presence, they are likely to be more cutting edge, creating a halo effect across clinical functions.
It’s evident that these conversations already exist all over the web. An effective way to leverage the conversations and position your healthcare establishment as a thought leader is to aggressively maintain a social community.
Based on our experience with healthcare and social media, Laughlin Constable has found that empathetic, educational and supportive tones work best when engaging with the social healthcare communities. Following are several content categories Laughlin Constable has found to be most successful in terms of engagement.
- Share health and wellness tips. Include supportive health information.
- Encourage preventative care and discuss the importance.
- Post links to healthy recipes. Ask the community to share their recipes.
2. Education + Information
- Share relevant and timely news. Ask the community for their opinion.
- Post doctor interviews; either a Q&A on a blog, or a video hosted through YouTube. Provide an inside look at advice from a respected source, and position the hospital as a thought leader. Allow the community to submit their questions for consideration in the next session.
- Host a live Twitter chat. Allow the community to ask questions and have doctors answer them live on Twitter.
- Bring social into the operating room and answer questions during procedures. Think Ohio State University Medical Center live-tweeting a knee surgery.
- Share discussions and ask questions. What does the community want to know more about? Just ask.
3. Inside Look
- Highlight a patient of the month. Share patient stories and testimonials. Show compassion.
- Share photos of the staff and an inside look inside the hospital, easing the unsure feeling many patients may have prior to their arrival.
- Post a calendar of hospital classes, events and activities. Encourage the community to RSVP. Post after-event photos.
- Communicate emergency room wait times. Let users know what to expect when they arrive. Use social media to supplement the hospital’s existing emergency response plan.
- Encourage attendance of a new hospital opening by creating events and allowing users to RSVP. Generate a countdown to ensure ongoing excitement and anticipation. Post teaser photo albums prior to the opening to the public. Offer hospital tours and encourage feedback and testimonials.
However you choose to engage with your social community, it’s important to have a consistent strategy in place. Start by determining the content categories, post frequency, and comment process. Put together a monthly content calendar of pre-approved posts to ensure everything is planned out and ready to go. Evaluate performance on a monthly basis. Based on community interest and engagement, the content categories and overall strategy may need to be adjusted.
Which engagement tactics have worked for your establishment? I’d love to hear your thoughts: @ckostrivas
*It’s important to consider HIPAA legalities and patient confidentiality when developing your hospital’s social strategy. Be sure to lead people to the correct channels and resources for actual treatment, when needed.