Social media has an increasingly important role to play in maintaining an organization’s reputation and image. Not only are patients seeking health information online, but many also say their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical treatment is influenced by social media.
Patients are also using social media to vocalize how they feel about their doctors, drugs, treatment plans, insurance, and medical devices. Don’t think if you are not on social media, patients aren’t discussing your organization. You can’t opt-out of reputation management – whether you have a social media presence or not, a patient who has a bad experience with your organization is only one tweet or Facebook post away from sharing it with the world.
Be Proactive in Managing Your Online Reputation
It is far better to take control of your reputation by responding to these conversations yourself and correcting any misinformation or misperceptions. Responding in real-time strengthens public perception that your focus is firmly on patient satisfaction.
Remember that everything you do online – every blog post, every tweet, every conversation – is a reflection of your brand. A successful social media presence hinges on the trust between you and your followers. Becoming a trusted source of health information for your patients and proactively developing a strong, consistent, and credible image online will increase patient trust and confidence in your organization.
Social Media Is An Essential Component of Healthcare Marketing
Realising social media’s potential in healthcare requires an organizational culture that values social media as central to its overall strategy. Social media should be viewed not as an add-on, but as an essential component of healthcare marketing. Unlike traditional marketing practices that have stayed constant for decades, social media is still a relatively new marketing channel with new networks, updates, and features constantly emerging. Marketing departments need to invest more of their budget in platforms and resources that takes full advantage of the opportunities presented by social media.
Create A Winning Strategy
The best social media accounts are precisely targeted, updated frequently, and foster an ongoing dialogue with followers. that’s why it’s so important to have a plan in place at the outset and monitor, measure, and adjust your progress as you go.
Start by optimizing your website – think of it as your home-base to which you will be directing your social media followers to find relevant and engaging information. With more people accessing the Internet via mobile devices, make sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing. to increase the likelihood that your website will be placed at the top of google search results, thereby earning you trust with your audience, consider adding a blog to your site. A blog serves to proactively show your patients that you are a trusted source of healthcare information.
Next, put a content promotion plan in place. In today’s noisy social media world, you need to amplify your content to be heard. Make it easy for people to share your site’s content on social media by incorporating social share icons prominently throughout your website.
Create lots of visual content such as infographics and videos and encourage people to share these on social media. Post updates about your hospital’s accomplishments, showcasing ground-breaking surgeries, cutting-edge research, and the work of high- profile staff members. Cross-promote each piece of content you create but do not copy and paste the same post on each platform—format each of them to meet the requirements of the specific platforms.
At the end of each week, take time to monitor and measure the impact of your social media activity. Monitor your engagement rates and pages views to see which channels get the most attention and measure the return on investment for paid ads and social media promotions.
Social media’s influence has still not reached its peak; it will continue to disrupt healthcare in ways we are only beginning to understand. It is equally important nowadays for healthcare organizations to communicate with patients online as it is through more traditional offline channels. Knowing how to leverage this opportunity is an essential skill for the modern healthcare organization. I like to use a quote from Erik Qualman: “We do not have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is – how well we do it”.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared in HealthManagement, Volume 18 – Issue 2, 2018