The Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media Marketing for Healthcare
Social media is a powerful tool that has fundamentally altered the way that patients perceive healthcare organizations. According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, 54% of patients decide where to pursue medical treatment based on the provider’s social media platforms. However, since nearly all hospitals are using social media as part of their marketing mix, maintaining an active social media presence with a strong strategy gives your organization an opportunity to stand out. Social media marketing for healthcare can further establish trust with patients, educate followers about health and wellness, and inspire individuals to pursue careers as healthcare professionals. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to make the most of your healthcare social media strategy.
Don’t give personalized medical advice.
Healthcare providers may be in the business of helping others maintain good health, but social media is not the place for diagnosis and treatment. Some prospective patients may post a medical question on one of your social media pages or send a direct message listing their symptoms. In these cases, ask them to follow up with an in-person appointment.
Your organization’s website and contact information should always be visible on your social media profiles. You may also wish to add a disclaimer on your social media sites that no medical diagnosis or treatment will be administered online.
Do share health-related news and articles from a credible source.
Rather than giving individualized medical treatment, use social media to share industry news, medical breakthroughs, and relevant research from a trustworthy source. For example, Main Line Health, a healthcare network in the greater Philadelphia region, often uses Facebook to share health and wellness news that is relevant to patients and the online community.
In a recent post for National Drug Take Back Day, Main Line Health’s Facebook page encouraged followers to go through their medicine cabinets to check for expired medications. Main Line Health’s post also offered a clear call to action by sharing different locations within their network where these medications can be safety disposed.
Don’t violate patient privacy laws.
Due to the sensitive nature of medical practice, it is important for healthcare companies to conform to all applicable privacy laws. HIPAA laws are in place to protect patient confidentiality, so any information that could possibly identify a patient without their consent (photos, names, etc.) cannot be shared on social media. If a patient wishes to be featured in a social media campaign, they will need to give explicit permission, in writing, to the healthcare provider.
Do communicate real-time updates that could affect patients.
Sometimes you may need a way to communicate with patients en masse. Real-time updates can be anything that would affect a patient’s ability to receive medical care at your facility. For example, is the parking garage closed for repairs? Has one of the offices temporarily moved to another wing of the building?
You can pin a post to the top of your social media feed so that it is the first thing followers see when they visit your Page. You may wish to combine social media updates with an automated phone call or email message to ensure patients are aware of any changes that could affect their visit.
Don’t operate in a vacuum.
It can be tempting to post updates and news on social media without listening to follower feedback. But this leads to missed opportunities to understand your patients’ questions and concerns. For example, suppose followers are asking questions about whether or not to get a flu shot. In that case, it might be worth writing a blog post for your organization’s website and sharing it on social media so you can provide general, but timely health advice. If patients leave reviews on your social media pages, you can also use this information to identify your organization’s strengths and improve weaknesses.
In addition, social media is part of a larger conversation, not a platform for just posting your own materials. Use industry-relevant hashtags, reshare other healthcare facilities‘ original content, and encourage patients and employees to interact with your Pages. Ask employees to reshare posts from your organization’s page to their personal page.
Do set clear expectations for your admins and your followers.
When used as a responsible communication tool, social media can deliver immense value to your organization. However, it only takes one person violating HIPAA to get you in a lot of trouble. Give employees a training session and a handbook with social networking policies and branding guidelines, whether they are managing your social media or just using their personal profiles. Restrict admin permissions for Company Pages and stay abreast of best practices.
Employees aren’t the only ones who should have a clear understanding of how to interact with your social media. It also helps for medical providers to establish expectations for social media followers at the outset. For example, the Canada-based Sunnybrook Hospital has published a social media commenting policy to ensure respectful discourse and protect individuals’ privacy. If you deem anything offensive or inappropriate, remove it from your Page immediately. Monitor your social media channels for comments, and respond quickly to violations.
Don’t only use one form of content.
Are all of your social media posts linking to your blog or your website? Or do you only share press releases and industry news rather than also highlighting patient success stories (when, of course, they give explicit permission)? Share images, infographics, blog posts, videos, and other forms of media to keep audiences engaged. The Mayo Clinic Facebook page is an excellent example of diversifying social media content types to appeal to a range of audiences. Here is a sampling of posts that include video stories, news articles, and infographics.
Do use the power of social media to advance public health.
Some organizations use social media to communicate public service announcements and combat misinformation. For example, the World Health Organization uses social media to share infographics with research or health and safety advice. In an effort to encourage more people to use vaccines, the World Health Organization’s Twitter feed has included many infographics related to the positive results of immunizations, including the near-eradication of diseases and the benefits of herd immunity. WHO also uses the hashtag #VaccinesWork, taking part in a broader national conversation about the need for vaccination.
Don’t just inform.
Besides informing followers about your services, ALWAYS remind internet users not to self-diagnose health issues and invite them to book an appointment with your company. This is very important because potential patients can turn to social media to self-diagnose and use your healthcare profile only for information about their condition instead of booking an appointment. So it is crucial to remind them to seek your services.
Do use social media for patient engagement.
Patient engagement is one of the top potential benefits of social media. When hospitals or medical practices take the time to address patient feedback – even negative comments – they demonstrate that patient satisfaction is a priority. Providers should go above and beyond with their social media engagement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other networks.
Don’t try paid social media advertising without reading the platform’s policies before.
Learning each social network posting and paid media policies is essential, mainly regarding healthcare, because there are many policies when showing human body content, aesthetic practices, before/after content, procedures videos, etc. For example, Meta can ban your profile if you violate its policies.
Do create awareness and information about social media trends involving users’ health.
You can use social networks to inform and create awareness about social media trends involving social media users’ health. This helps create a sense that your organization is professional and up-to-date with technology and what’s happening today. This also helps to combat misinformation.
Do try an inclusive communication strategy because healthcare is for everyone.
Use communication that promotes inclusion; for example, when promoting esthetic services, you can give a message that includes both women and men. You want to get across the idea that you are accessible to all prospective patients. Remember that millions of people can view your content, and they all want to feel included.
Social Media Marketing For Healthcare Done Right.
Social media marketing for healthcare has become an integral part of the healthcare industry. With the ever-increasing number of social media networks, it has become essential for healthcare providers to establish a robust online presence to reach their patients and prospective clients effectively. Digital marketing strategies have proven to be effective in reaching out to the target audience and building brand awareness.
As the healthcare industry evolves, so do social media marketing strategies. It is essential to stay ahead of the curve by continuously innovating and refining marketing strategies. At Pacific54, we specialize in developing effective marketing strategies for healthcare providers. We understand the unique needs of the healthcare industry and can help you establish a strong online presence.
If you are looking to enhance your marketing strategy or establish a new one, we invite you to contact us today. Our team of experts will work with you to develop a customized plan that aligns with your business objectives and delivers measurable results. Let us help you take your social media marketing for healthcare services to the next level. Contact us today to get started!
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