Is it going to be Twitter or Facebook? How about Pinterest or Instagram? Clearly, social media must continue to play a role in the current consumer-driven healthcare arena, but how do marketers manage this growing field? With over a billion active users on Facebook alone, according to The Guardian, effective leverage becomes a necessity.
The goal for most businesses today goes beyond just staying active in social media. Most want to get something trending, because it garners attention for the brand. For hospitals, that means making an impact both in the community and in the industry.
Perhaps the analogy is a little overused, but people jump at carrots. What they don’t do is give the local hospital priority on their social media pages. Hospitals looking to add users can benefit from dangling the preverbal carrot. Create incentives that get patients liking the hospital’s pages such as a drawing for gift cards for everyone who shares a post. Marketers might start a hashtag campaign and enter everyone who posts using the hashtags.
Make It Easy
Patients can’t follow a page they don’t know exists, so make it easy to find. Put links to all your social media sites on blogs, web pages and in email signatures. Put address information on print material like brochures and business cards. It should be a permanent part of invoice and stationary letterheads, as well. Increase awareness through brick and mortar locations just as much as through digital channels. Adding "Follow Us on Facebook" to printed marketing materials, front desk signage, ER waiting rooms will increase your social media channels exposure. It's not unheard of for people waiting to see a doctor to be on their phone and scrolling through their social media accounts. When they see your hospital is on Facebook,Twitter etc...chances are they will follow/like your social media pages. Make a commitment and follow through on your social strategies as part of your branding efforts.
Get Others Involved
Ask your staff and any healthcare 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.
Don’t just post marketing tidbits about the hospital on social media sites. Make the page trend by creating discussions about things that matter to the readers. Post about healthcare news, provide tips on things like weight loss and stay current on community news. Scott & White Health Care provided social media updates when they were treating victims of the Ft. Hood shooting.
Make It Personal
Mayo Clinic is a stellar example of this in action. They have their own social media network that sponsors health promotion campaigns, including one specifically about heart health. Their doctors post regularly on their pages about trending health topics, too. Nebraska Medical Center provides QR codes, so patients can watch videos to get to know their physicians.
Provide Good Customer Service
Social media can offer assistance in this area, as well. Invite community members to provide feedback about the hospital via a Facebook page. This shows the followers that you care about what people think and, also, localizes the complaints. An unhappy consumer is going to go online and vent. This opens up a line of communication, so you can deal with the problem before it becomes a fire.
For hospitals, social media is a tool that can make or break the brand. Use it wisely to ignite your hospital marketing and get the hospital trending.