Healthcare has become an increasingly competitive field. Years ago, hospitals didn’t have to worry about marketing to get new patients. But with a large number of changes to health insurance over the past few years, and a slew of mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare field, impressing patients has suddenly moved right up there with treating them.
One way to attract customers is by using social media. Social networking sites allow hospitals to connect with potential patients one-on-one, while also advertising the reasons why the hospital is the right choice. Let’s examine why using social media for hospitals is a smart move, take a look at the top social networking sites, and reveal how they can fit into a social media plan for healthcare.
Social media has become the new word of mouth advertising. If something is generating buzz, it is doing so on Twitter and Facebook—not at the watercooler at work. To take the pulse of the public, look no further than the trending topics on social media sites, which tell you what people are writing about and clicking on.
It’s extremely important for any business to be involved in social media, but it’s even more important for healthcare. For starters, healthcare is a people-focused business. You need to understand what people want and what motivates them, so you can convince them to use your services. You also need to have the ability to address them directly.
Social media offers all of this. It is a powerful communication tool, and one of the best ways to market any service online. Plus, companies that do not employ social media appear dated and out of touch. Those are not words you ever want associated with you in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of healthcare.
Here are the five major social networks and how they can help your hospital’s social media plan.
The biggest and the oldest of the major social networks, Facebook is a great place to share updates about your business and post about future events.
You might use Facebook to:
Facebook is most valuable as a reference point for patients and potential patients. If they want to know what’s going on at the hospital, they should have easy access to your Facebook page to find out.
Think of Twitter as the place for your healthcare facility’s breaking news. If a pipe bursts in the ER, you should be posting updates about it on Twitter. People check these feeds to find out the most up-to-date information about a company. It almost serves as your own private TV newscast.
You might use Twitter to:
Twitter is most valuable as a source of news and information for patients, but it also targets anyone who wants to learn more about your hospital. Update your feed regularly, up to several times an hour. You may decide the best way to do this is by hiring an SEO firm that has experience keeping social media sites updated.
Google+ is one of the newer social media sites, but it’s still extremely important for social media campaigns. Google looks favorably upon any site that has an active and thriving Google+ account, which could help increase your search engine rankings and help more people find you on the web.
Google+ is an ideal host for multimedia presentations. You could host a Google Hangout, which is basically a video chat room, where doctors or nurses can answer patients’ questions. You could also post videos on a range of topics—from preventing the common cold to explaining confusing health insurance terms.
Make sure you fill out your profile on Google+ to the fullest. This is information Google will pull from when it conducts searches, and the more details you can include, the higher you’ll rise in search results.
LinkedIn is the social media site for professionals. Every company should have a LinkedIn account, but how much you use that account may depend on your industry. For healthcare, it can be a great resource.
LinkedIn offers a great deal of in-depth discussion and analysis. You may not connect with new patients, but you can bolster your reputation as a research hospital or a teaching hospital. You can also add to dialogues on topics of interest to your industry.
You can also help establish your healthcare company as an authority in the field. When you develop a track record of answering questions related to healthcare, it gives you credibility. Other hospitals, and even some patients, will notice and give you more respect.
YouTube is the Google-owned video sharing network that streams billions of videos each day. Hospitals can set up their own channels on the site where they share videos relevant to patients and potential patients. Think of it as the hospital’s own video network, where important information can be shared.
For example, instead of sending out a packet of information on check-in policies, rules, and regulations for the maternity ward, post a short YouTube video explaining the information. It’s much easier for your customers to sit through a video than it is to read a big packet—and it’s far more likely that a video will be watched than a packet will be read.
YouTube is a unique way to engage patients with videos that are interesting and informative. It rewards creativity, because people will share clever videos with friends no matter what the source. And there is always the hope that your video will go viral, getting shared across the web with millions of people.
We hope these tips on using social media for hospitals can help your company communicate with patients. Our team has helped healthcare companies like yours build better social media accounts, update them regularly, and earn new business from them. If you want to see how well social media can work for your hospital, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation and custom quote. We'd love to hear from you!
Call 888.449.3239 or contact us online today to learn how WebpageFX can help you tackle your hospital's social media challenges.