I see it all too often. Healthcare organizations avoiding or limiting the use of social media as a tool to grow their business. Why?
Mostly it’s from fear of things like a rogue employee’s ill-advised Tweet creating a PR nightmare or a violation of HIPAA compliance bringing about a law suit.
All those things should certainly be considerations for a healthcare organization when thinking about integrating social media into the business plan. They shouldn’t, however, be used as excuses that cause organizations to miss out on reaping the rewards social media offers if used properly.
Rather than shying away from social media, healthcare organizations should embrace its power and consider it an additional tool that can help amplify other business development and marketing efforts already in place.
Not to mention, social media can do a lot of good if used properly. Let’s start there.
Improve patients’ lives
Lots of eye rolling going on right now, I’m sure. You’re asking how in the world social media could possible improve lives.
Social media offers healthcare organizations an excellent opportunity to disseminate information to the masses in one shot.
Let’s say there’s been a new development in ways to avoid heart disease. It requires a very minimal change to one’s lifestyle, but the problem is not too many people are aware of it.
A hospital, cardiologist or other relevant organization could simply blast out a series of social media messages to its followers, thereby reaching the masses with a shotgun approach.
Social media offers a platform for healthcare organizations to reach more people with less effort. Patients benefit from the advice, and the organization posting the advice benefits from being seen as truly caring about its patients. This leads to patient loyalty, and patient loyalty leads to stability and often growth.
Become the go-to resource
By building loyalty through providing info to patients that’s critical to their well-being, healthcare providers and organizations can position themselves as thought leaders. Those on the more motivated end of the spectrum may even step it up to the next level and start creating longer form content.
This is great for achieving a position as a thought leader, and it offers other benefits like building SEO value to help the organization’s website show up higher in search results.
I want to bring back up an earlier mention I made about amplification. Social media is a great platform for amplifying info an organization needs to disseminate, and the same goes for longer form content. Healthcare organizations can use the combo of articles and the power of social media to truly position themselves and their team as the ultimate resource.
Who do you want to go to when you have a health issue? Would you prefer to go see a doctor with zero info for you to review to determine whether they’re any good or not? Or would you prefer to go see a doctor who’s actively showcasing their expertise so that you can feel comfortable they know what they’re doing? I think the answer’s clear.
Get patient feedback
As a thought leader in the healthcare space, your patients can learn from you via the content you promote on social media. The reverse is true as well.
Healthcare organizations can gain valuable insight into the patient experience through “listening” to chatter on social media channels.
By reviewing conversations patients are having about their healthcare providers, those providers can find out a lot. Are there tons of negative mentions out there about a provider or practice? Do people absolutely love a specific doctor or communication style? Are patients dissatisfied and posting their feelings about what needs to change?
The answers to all those questions and more are available through social media, if organizations are willing to take the time to listen.
Uncovering these types of insights can lead to a better reputation, the ability to eliminate areas of concern that could lead to problems down the road, and an improved patient experience.
Take a strategic approach
The rewards are there. That said, I’m not recommending healthcare organizations just jump in and start haphazardly posting on social media. Start with the marketing team (or an agency if you go that route) putting together a strategy.
The focus should be on the channels where the organization’s patients are active. Personnel and time will be required for any social media effort, so it’s critical to make sure the message is seen and isn’t wasting valuable time and people.
Planning is the key to success. By going into social media with an understanding of the target audience, a clear direction for posts, consistent messaging, and a strong understanding of the ROI the organization hopes to achieve, it can be a valuable tool in improving the patient experience and helping to meet and exceed business growth expectations.