Market Your Hospital Using Twitter

twitter-logoMaybe you are connected to friends, family, news sources, celebrities, favorite brands, etc on Twitter but how can it be used to promote your hospital?

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets.

Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length and are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers).

Twitter is the name of the site. Tweets are the messages that are sent out. Links to your hospital’s website, landing page on hospital’s website, other websites such as the Centers for Disease Control, even links to your  hospital’s Facebook Page or YouTube channel can be sent via Twitter.

Some ways to use Twitter:

  • Promote service lines. IMPORTANT: Message must be engaging, relevant, offer something of value – not a “mini commercial. Copy is not as easy to write as one would think.
  • Updates in real time such as when a physician is at a conference and learns a new procedure or the first time that a procedure is done in the hospital. Surgeries have been tweeted (successfully) from leaders such as Henry Ford and Mayo.
  • Promote events
  • Reminders – follow up the announcement with a reminder “tweet” the morning of the event, etc.
  • Establish offshoot groups and send out pertinent info (tweet expectant moms a reminder to take their prenatal vitamin, tweet diabetic group reminder to check their blood sugar level, tweet weight loss group mid morning encouragement to make good lunch choices)
  • Drive traffic to hospital’s website. Choose the topic, ask a question about it and link to website for more info “Are you squash, apple or pear shaped? What does this mean for your health, your heart?” with link to website for more info)
  • Crisis management: whether a local catastrophe (a plant explosion) or a global one (Swine Flu), consumers and the media can be kept up to the minute. Info is immediate, accurate and it cuts down on labor required to manage phones.
  • Recruitment: Need to hire 2 nurses? Send a Tweet with a link to your website, offer an employee testimonial, how to apply, etc. Even if none of your followers are looking for a job, chances are they know someone who is (viral affect).
  • Monitor what patients, consumers and the community is saying about you. This allows you to handle complaints immediately if you choose.
  • Monitor what is being said about the competition – the good and the bad.

After Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI tweeted a bilateral knee replacement, the hospital reported more than 180 questions and comments in reply to the 250 tweets posted during the surgery.

There were more than 75 “retweets” (tweets sent by other Twitter users). This new media event led to a profile on “Good Morning America” and got a mention on “Oprah”. Within a month of the surgery, 10 new patients were seen for the procedure with more expected.

To see the tweet of the surgery as well as comments lookup @Aurora_Health on Twitter.com.

For more on Aurora’s Twitter success:

www.assn.org/amednews/2009/06/29/bisa0629.htm

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