Social media has become an integral part of many healthcare organizations’ marketing strategies. Across the United States, over 99 percent of hospitals have an active Facebook page and an increasing number are also establishing a presence on other platforms.
It’s no longer a question of if, but how. Most healthcare organizations know that they need to do something on social media in order to attract new patients and maintain a good presence online, but most don’t know where to get started. And although the name of the game is social media, it’s not social media in the way that most practices now use it. That’s why you need to understand what the power of social media for healthcare organizations really looks like and how to use it most effectively for your practice.
Benefits and Challenges
Almost 80% of Americans begin their search for health information online, and 60% of social media users trust social media posts by doctors over any other group. Engaging and interacting on the social platforms that your patients use opens up many opportunities. It allows you to build connections, share discoveries, and develop credibility as a thought leader. Through different social media platforms, you can share relevant health alerts, receive patient feedback, and strengthen your brand with a focus on creating trust. In addition to this, precisely targeted ads via social media platforms assist you in personalized patient outreach.
When it comes to challenges regarding social media for healthcare organizations, complying with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the main one. Healthcare providers are often hesitant that a published social media post may violate a patient’s privacy, or that social media may be another vulnerability for hackers or malware. However, there’s a comprehensive list of social media guidelines that outline how to post information online without violating patient privacy. This primarily involves de-identifying patients by removing information like their name, date of birth, or insurance information. You can also avoid compliance concerns simply by getting the patient’s consent to be shared on social media.
Maintaining professionalism is another common concern when it comes to using social media for healthcare organizations. For example, physicians may be concerned that colleagues or patients will lose respect for them if they share inaccurate information. That’s why it’s necessary to keep all posts appropriate and relevant but also adhere to The American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Board’s guidelines for healthcare professionals in addition to all legal guidelines.
Turn the Power of Social Media for Healthcare Organizations to Your Advantage
Common advice for using social media for healthcare organizations revolves around consistently sharing content, nurturing client relationships, staying active, and projecting a friendly and approachable image. While these suggestions are valid, they might not be comprehensive enough to achieve optimal returns on your efforts.
Yes, your social media profiles should reflect that your organization is active and up-to-date. However, the true essence of maximizing social media’s benefits lies in shifting the spotlight — don’t just focus on your own content, but encourage patients and their families to share their positive experiences with your practice. 32% of consumers collect health-related information from social media based on their family and friends’ experiences, coming second only to direct consumer review searches. This indicates that authentic patient testimonials and word-of-mouth references on social platforms can significantly strengthen your outreach and credibility.
Also, one of the primary reasons why healthcare organizations participate in social media is to help educate patients. By disseminating information about cutting-edge research, sharing health tips, and demystifying medical processes, you can position your organization as a source of knowledge and trustworthiness in the field. Frequent social media posting, like live tweeting, provides numerous opportunities for education and engagement, boosts user authority and popularity, and works as a platform to showcase positive aspects of your healthcare organization.
Moreover, to get the most out of your social media engagement efforts, you can also consider using relevant hashtags. With the continuous flow and discovery of health information, hashtags offer both patients and physicians the ability to streamline their search across an entire social media platform. To optimize this, keep an eye on trending hashtags whether they’re related to specific health concerns, medical conferences, or emerging research. By aligning your content with what’s current and looked after, you make sure that your posts resonate with and meet the real-time interests of your audience.
Don’t Forget Google Reviews
While platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram capture much of the social media spotlight, the significance of Google reviews can’t be overstated. Although often written by the hands of strangers, these reviews often serve as main touchpoints for potential patients, shaping their perceptions and influencing decisions.
For Google, the more reviews you have, the better your practice will appear in searches. On the other hand, Facebook uses recommendations. When your current or previous patients recommend your business to their friends, new potential patients will click through and see your well-configured page and the good reviews. This makes them more likely to choose you.
To take advantage of this, it’s crucial to establish robust profiles on both Google and Facebook that not only provide comprehensive information but also facilitate easy navigation back to your main website or contact points.
Finally, encourage your patients to leave reviews for you by providing them with the fantastic service they deserve in the first place. Once that’s in place, consider sending automated review requests with direct links to your review pages, simplifying the process for patients. When sharing their experience feels effortless, they’ll be more willing to voice their thoughts and recommendations.
Improve Healthcare Engagement
The power of social media for healthcare organizations lies in different opportunities from improving patient trust and building connections to strengthening reach and credibility. While challenges exist in this process, you can easily overcome them with the right guidelines and strategies in place. However, you can’t afford to be just a passive observer. Instead, you must be an active participant, crafting your narrative, engaging with your community, and consistently delivering exceptional care both offline and online.
To improve your approach to social media for healthcare organizations even further, you can use SocialClimb’s healthcare marketing platform. SocialClimb offers automated review requests for physicians, in addition to granular marketing tracking, targeted marketing tools, and Google business profile optimization. This way, the potential for growth, connection, and improved patient experience becomes measurable and more tangible.