The healthcare sector is evolving, now more than ever. As healthcare marketers face new challenges in growing their practice, it’s the ones who take the extra risk to stand out that find the most success. Healthcare social media marketing is the perfect example of a marketing risk when considering the scope of the medical field—it’s private in nature, and patient stories are protected by HIPAA compliance.
So why spend time and money putting together a social media strategy? It’s simple. According to The Statistics Portal, 71% of total internet users in 2017 were social media users. That equates to 2.46 billion people, a number that is expected to reach 2.77 billion by 2019.
The good news is you’re here for tips on creating a successful healthcare social media strategy, so you’re ready for the risk. Smart move.
Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn…
Not all networks are created equal. It’s important to understand what the audience is on each network and the overall purpose of the platform.
LinkedIn, for example, is clearly the business-oriented network, where you’re more likely to recruit future employees than new patients, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have a purpose for you. LinkedIn is also a great network for healthcare organizations to position themselves as leaders in the industry by educating and building trust with followers.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a more personal network where people seek opinions from their family and friends, watch or read real life stories, or simply want to be entertained by a comic strip or meme. One of the original social networks has become a strong platform for healthcare organizations to build personal relationships, share engaging stories, and gain positive reviews.
Each network’s unique audience also has its own expectations for what it wants to see posted. For example, videos and curated content tend to work better on Facebook, while LinkedIn is a space to find job postings, company news, and industry-related content. Convince & Convert recently explored how the 50 largest hospitals in the U.S. successfully use social media, including what types of posts resonate the best on each network, which can help facilitate your social media decision-making.
When planning out your healthcare social media strategy, keep in mind that you don’t have to manage a profile on every network. Use the information you gather about each audience and pick the ones that benefit you the most.
2. Don’t just be there to be there.
Yes, having a profile on a social network is the first step, but it’s a small one. It’s everything that follows the signing up process that ultimately impacts your healthcare business. Here are some good social media practices to keep in mind:
- Be active. Consistency is key, while also avoiding the overzealous approach. A few good rules of thumb are to post between five and seven days a week, once a day on Facebook and Linkedin, three to five tweets a day, and one Instagram post per week. Being active also refers to liking posts, commenting, joining discussions when you can present your practice as an authority in the space, etc.
- Keep your brand consistent across networks. This means having similar header and profile images on each network, but be sure to size appropriately. Hootsuite put together a detailed list of image sizes for each network, and if you don’t have an in-house designer, tools like Canva can help you whip up graphics fit to size.
- Always be professional. Don’t shy away from criticisms or tough questions, and be sure to respond to comments and/or reviews, especially when they’re negative. Just be mindful to stay professional and understanding to the commenter’s concerns.
3. Content is king.
You may have heard this phrase before, but it’s certainly not outdated. Much like the healthcare sector, content has evolved to include blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, photos, interactive pieces, you name it. There’s so much good content out there, it’s like holding four of a kind in a poker match (kings, of course).
Remember to consider each network’s audience when posting certain types of content, and mix it up periodically. Don’t get stuck posting links to blog posts on Facebook every day. While links have a lot of success, you can fall on stale grounds with your followers. Throw a video post in there, followed by a curated piece, then a photo, and so on. Sharing dynamic content will not only keep your audience engaged, but it will help develop a positive online reputation for your healthcare organization.
4. Get the most out of your social media efforts.
Getting your healthcare social media strategy into motion is a great first step in leveraging the 2.46 billion people on social networks, but it has so much more to offer, like paid advertising. Mixing in paid social media posts allows you to specifically target your ideal client base.
Have a pediatrics practice? Think about adding men and women with children in their household to your target market. The Social Media Examiner breaks down how to build specialized audiences for Facebook and Instagram, showing you how simple and granular targeting can be through social media advertising.
Of course, if you’re going to put so much research into your organic posting, don’t be shy on the details of your paid ones. Approach every paid post, whether it’s a boosted post or a full-blown ad campaign, similarly to any paid marketing campaign—with a locked down budget and distribution strategy.
5. Please the HIPAA Hippo.
Always consider the risk of HIPAA violations when posting on social media. If you post photos or videos of your office and/or staff (which is highly recommended in building trust), be sure to examine each post for possible patient information. If there is a patient standing in the background of your photo, even partially shown, you have to have their permission in writing to post. Good thing we’re an online form builder, right? Think about having a social media consent form on hand that will give you permission to have patients shown in images or videos, or even better, to post patient success stories from your practice.
Other common HIPAA violations on social media include mentioning patient admission dates or addressing a patient’s health concerns in a public message or comment. HIPAA compliance doesn’t just refer to your practice’s posts or pages. Employees of your healthcare organization need to be careful with their personal postings as well. Needless to say, if you question whether something may or may not violate HIPAA compliance and don’t have legal patient consent, don’t post it. While maintaining a HIPAA compliant practice sets limitations, it’s actually quite simple to adhere to the regulations while also giving you the opportunity to build strong relationships and a positive online reputation.
The best healthcare organizations on social media are committed to storytelling, educating their audience, providing dynamic content and presenting themselves as a reliable source online. You are in control of your own success, so it’s important to plan ahead.