Social Media for Healthcare

Social Media strategy for Hospitals

Hospital Social Media Strategy Checklist

Social Media for Hospitals

Are you satisfied with your hospital’s social media efforts?  Perhaps it is time to review and possibly revise your social media strategy. Here are some social media strategy DO’s and DONT’s for healthcare marketers.

Common Mistakes in Hospital Social Media Strategy

FIrst of all, taking a look at what “NOT” to do can be helpful. So here are a few of the “DONTs”.

  • Poor planning up front. “We need to be on Facebook” is not enough. Therefore, clearly define the goals, objectives, and metrics for measuring. After all, knowing what success looks like is important.
  • No content calendar. Creating a content calendar is an essential part of the process. In addition, the calendar needs to coincide with other hospital communication efforts, local events, and even the seasons.
  • No set schedule. Most posting is haphazard. Instead, post content at regular intervals, at opportune times.
  • Don’t leave it to marketing. Effective social media execution requires participation from all levels of the facility. Therefore, involve the service line managers, physicians, HR, and department heads.
  • No procedure for responding. Because patients and others in the community will attempt to engage with your hospital online, have a system for handling these comments and responses, ahead of time.

Essential Elements of an Effective Healthcare Social Media Strategy

In addition, your social media strategy should answer many of these questions.

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What does success look like? Furthermore, how will we measure success?
  • Who is responsible? In addition, who is on the team?
  • What are the priorities?
  • Who are the target audiences?
  • Where will the content come from? Also, what about photos?
  • How will we involve doctors and other professionals?
  • What is the posting schedule?
  • How and who will  handle comments and responses?
  • What level of integration will there be with other communication efforts and channels?
  • What about boosted posts? And if so, what about budget?

In conclusion,  if you are looking to improve your hospital’s social media efforts, a review of the basics may go a long way.

ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping many kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

Hospital Marketing: Social Media Facts to Consider for 2014 (Part 4 of 4)

Facebook and YouTube are in your face!social media for hospitals

The use of social media continues to grow.  Facebook now claims over 1 billion users worldwide.  It’s not just a phase; online social networking is here to stay.  And because of its use and its staying power, it should be included in the marketing strategy of every hospital and every healthcare organization.  It’s where consumers are.  And for long periods of time.  And consumers expect your presence there.  And other social media sites have impressive numbers of users too.  Here are a few interesting facts:

1.  1 million websites have integrated with Facebook.  Not only are consumers engaged on Facebook, other websites have links to Facebook multiplying and compounding access.

2.  80% of users prefer to connect to brands on Facebook.  Consumers expect to find our brands on Facebook.  They want to use the site to gather information about the brand and if they are brand loyalists they want engagement.  This is particularly pertinent to hospital marketers.  Your consumers expect you to have a presence in social media

3.  25% of Facebook uses don’t set any of their privacy settings.  There’s been much talk recently about privacy.  Facebook has changed the way privacy settings are selected.  But even with that, a full one-fourth of uses have not bothered with their privacy settings.

4.  25% of Facebook users check their account at least five times per day.  Facebook users visit the network a lot.  Returning to it to post or just check their newsfeed happens throughout the day.  Users are checking in on a regular basis.

5.  YouTube reaches more U.S. adults 18-34 than any cable network. Even with the tremendous growth of cable networks among younger adults, YouTube reaches more of them.  Of course one video would not reach as many consumers as a schedule of spots run on major cable networks but YouTube is extremely popular.  It’s time to consider using video in your marketing strategy.  Start simple but don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach a big base of consumers.

As healthcare marketers it seems a bit overwhelming.  The strength and power of Social media and the various platforms and sites and how consumers utilize online social media can become almost too much to get your arms around.  And of course once started the monster has to be fed.  You can’t set it up and watch it go.  It requires time and effort.

But the numbers speak for themselves.  And active social media strategy is important.  Hospital marketing departments can’t be present on all social media sites.  But choose the one (or ones) that fit your hospital’s marketing objectives and do it well.  Don’t overstretch your capabilities. Examine the numbers and see what’s best for your healthcare organization and then make a commitment to be active and to make it as effective as possible. 

Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).

Hospital Marketing: Social Media Facts to Consider for 2014 (Part 3 of 4)

social media for businessConsumers are linking in!  But they aren’t very active.

As social networking sites grow, healthcare marketers must keep a close watch on which ones could be a useful marketing tool.  Hospital marketers can’t actively participate on all social platforms so it’s important to know which ones are most effective.  Although a primarily a business social network, Linkedin has been growing at a very rapid pace.  Here are two statistics, which are important:

1.  A new member joins LinkedIn every 2 seconds.  LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social sites and has become one of the more dominant ones.  Mainly a site for professionals who want to connect for business purposes, it usefulness to hospital marketers is probably limited.  Except perhaps for HR.

2.  LinkedIn users are less active than users of other social media sites.

Although LinkedIn is growing extremely fast, its percentage of active users trail other sites.  This makes sense since Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ are used for socializing, LinkedIn is more for professional use.  So users of LinkedIn don’t visit or use it nearly as often as the other dominant social networking sites.  Credibility is higher on LinkedIn and it’s more useful for business purposes.

For healthcare marketers, LinkedIn is not your first choice for a social media strategy.  The other sites are more useful and efficient.  They are much more for participatory content and engagement.  With that said, as noted earlier, LinkedIn could be a very useful tool for HR as they seek and recruit professional talent.

 

Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).

 

 

Healthcare Marketing: 9 Ways Social Media is Impacting Business of Healthcare

Hospitals that understand this impact and leverage them within their organizations will be better positioned to meet the needs of today’s consumers

healthcare and social mediaMichelle McNickle, writing for Healthcare Finance News, referenced a report by the Health Research Institute at PwC US in outlining the impact of social media on the healthcare industry.  The information contained it the article is very useful for healthcare marketers.  The article is reprinted here:

According to a recent report by the Health Research Institute at PwC US, nine distinct uses of social media are helping companies to have an impact on the healthcare business, and to take a more active and engaged role in managing individuals’ health.

“Organizations should coordinate internally to effectively integrate information from the social media space and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways that provide value and increase trust,” the report read. “Insights from social media also offer instant feedback on products or services, along with new ideas for innovation. Organizations that can incorporate this information into their operations will be better positioned to meet the needs of today’s consumers.”

The report outlined nine additional ways social media is impacting the business side of healthcare.

1. Communication is shifting to public, more open forums. Which means less money spent on mailings, websites, and other marketing initiatives. According to the report, four characteristics of social media have altered the nature of interactions among people and organizations: user-generated content, community, rapid distribution, and open, two-way dialogue. “In the past, a company would connect with its customers via mail or a website, but today’s dialogue has shifted to open, public forums that reach many more individuals,” read the report. “Early adopters of social media in the health sector are not waiting for customers to come to them.” Ed Bennett, who oversees social media efforts at the University of Maryland Medical Center, agreed. “If you want to connect with people and be part of their community, you need to go where the community is,” he said. “You need to be connecting before you are actually needed.”

2. Patients (or consumers) are taking a more active role in their healthcare. Social media presents new opportunities for how individuals manage their health, the report noted, whether researching a certain illness or joining a support group. “The virtual aspect of social media enhances communications by creating a comfortable, often anonymous, environment for engaging and exchanging information.” In addition, patients are using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to better educate themselves. When faced with an important health decision, the report read, social media can provide a new avenue of information and dialogue. “Some may share a health goal to generate support or engage in a patient community to interact with other patients,” it read.

3. Increased access to information means patients are demanding more transparency.  Laura Clapper, MD, CMO of the online community OneRecovery, compared healthcare’s use of social media with that of a bank’s. “As more people go online to interact with their banks and make purchases, they want to do this with their doctors, health plans, and condition and disease management as well,” she said. According to the report, many industry insiders referenced social media site PatientsLikeMe, an eight-year-old health data-sharing platform, as an example of how more than 140,000 patients are connecting with each other. “Social networks will peel back every corner of the health system and drive transparency on cost, value, and outcomes,” said Jamie Heywood, co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe. “The information asymmetry that patients experience will be leveled, allowing the average patient to evaluate and improve his or her conditions, as well as the system’s performance.”

4. More instant feedback can help both consumers and organizations. With patients more actively taking to social media to express opinions, grievances, and experiences, they expect faster response times from organizations, the report read. “Truly social brands will listen to what customers are saying and feeling and use that insight to adapt and create products and services,” said Kelly Colbert, director of strategic advertising at insurer WellPoint. In addition to improving services and creating products to better meet the needs of patients, social media has taken on a more practical approach to basic, day-to-day operations within an organization. For example, according to the report, 49 percent of those polled expect to hear from their doctor when requesting an appointment or follow-up via social media within a few hours.

5. Social information is impacting how and when patients select treatment and providers. It’s no secret consumers are increasingly turning toward social media to make healthcare-related decisions, like what physician to see and when to seek a second opinion. For example, according to the report, 40 percent of those polled said information found in social media would affect the way they coped with a chronic condition, their approach to diet and exercise, and their selection of a specific doctor. “Across the health industry, consumers seem to value information and services that will help them make their healthcare easier to manage,” the report read.

6. Social media allows for higher levels of trust. According to the report, consumer survey respondents said they would be most likely to trust information posted via social media (from doctors, hospitals, etc.) and, they’d be most likely to share information with providers via social media. The reason individuals trust their doctors the most? Human relationships, the report detailed. “You want to trust and connect with the people providing you the care,” said Kathryn Armstrong, senior producer of web communications at Lehigh Valley Health Network. “It’s easier to trust a person than an organization.” Healthcare providers have the ability to form human relationships and connect with their patients, the report added, which ultimately leads to increased trust.

7. Social media is evolving from a marketing tool into a business strategy. Although 82 percent of respondents said their social media efforts are managed by their marketing department, the report showcased how social media’s use is extending into customer service, innovation, and service/product development. “As people go through life events and their health journey, they have changing interests in health,” said Ann Sherry, senior director of Kaiser Permanente’s Internet services. “They want and need different tools and different interactions.” Having a social media strategy isn’t’ enough, she added. “It’s about social strategy.”

8. Providers can use social media as an outcomes-based measurement. The industry is shifting toward outcomes-based measurement, due in part to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, like Medicare’s Value-Based Purchasing and accountable care, read the report. “Social media can offer a unique mechanism for collaborating with other organizations/partners to coordinate care,” it read. The report advised using social media to support meaningful use efforts, all while defining a digital strategy and clear usage guidelines. “A hospital’s or physician’s first encounter with a patient is often through its online presence,” it read. “Providers should take advantage of the trust consumers have for them over other health companies.”

9. Health insurers can use social media to help focus on population health. According to the report, health insurers understand that focusing on the individual population will be key, as more partnerships in population health are formed and insurance exchanges bring in 12 million newly insured individuals in 2014, and up to 28 million by 2019. By casting your company as a “patient advocate,” it continued, you’ll get a jump start on understanding the needs of potential members and determining which needs can be met through social media. Additionally, it noted, organizations should begin to determine an approach to data aggregation and understanding the direct and indirect benefits of social media.

Healthcare Marketing: 5 Ways to Cultivate Your Hospital’s Brand with Social Media

Your brand must be an integral part of your social media strategy.

More healthcare marketers are adopting social media as a component of their marketing efforts.  But it must reflect our brand.  Social media provides the opportunity to humanize the brand and empower it. 

Heidi Cohen identified five tactics for using social media to cultivate a brand and expand its reach.  Her comments appeared in SmartBlog on Social Media.

1.    Give your brand a human voice (or other sounds) on social media.

A brand can be humanized by how it sounds.  Corporate speak doesn’t resonate with consumers. Instead, consider your brand’s language, accent and other noises.  Sound like a human.

2.    Enhance the visual signals associated wit your brand.

Carefully consider colors, images, icons, type and photographs to make sure they enhance your brand and communicate the brand’s personality.

3.    Tell your brand’s story.

Brands aren’t a collection of facts or products or services.  They’re about stories.  Stories of the company, employees and customers told in a human voice.  Give your brand a personality.  Create with stories.

4.    Develop and incorporate a culture into your brand.

A unique corporate culture is important to community building.  Create a special language, actions and attributes to set your brand apart from the competition.

5.    Brand your employees.

Brands need real people to represent their organization.  It provides a human face.  It builds trust and sincerity. Brand employees and let employees project the brand.

Social media can be very useful to hospital marketers.  And it’s important to let your brand shine through in those social media efforts.  Social media is a unique opportunity to humanize your brand, to create a brand personality and to connect your brand to your consumers.

 

 

Healthcare Marketing: QR Codes Effective for Hospitals?

QR codes can be effective for healthcare marketing, but they have limitations.

They’re everywhere these days.  You see them often.  In magazines, newspaper ads, retail stores, on product packaging and in many unexpected places.  Quick Response Codes, better known as QR Codes, with the black and white patterned squares that can be scanned by a Smartphone to link to a web page, registration form, contact info, etc.  QR codes link print and the web and allows tracking of its use.  And they are becoming more and more prevalent.  Their use increased 1600% last year.

QR codes can be very effective, disseminating useful information to the consumer.  The code can provide additional information, show a video, provide a place to respond, offer surveys and many other creative uses.  QR codes have many positive attributes for healthcare marketers but also some limitations.  A listing of both are offered here:

Positive attributes

1.    Easy to create
2.    Basically free
3.    Can be printed on almost anything
4.    Can disseminate a large amount of information
5.    Provide information in a private setting

Limitations

1.    Not everyone has Smartphone…only 35% of population
2.    The linked website must be compatible with mobile platform
3.    Smartphone must be close to the QR code
4.    Phone must have the appropriate app to read the code

QR codes can be very successful for healthcare marketers.  But their use should be strategic.  It should fulfill a consumer need.  And it should be easy to use