While aesthetically pleasing and interesting photos and videos are important, they aren’t the only component of a successful social media strategy. An image might capture attention, but the message behind it will help you retain and engage people.
Focus on storytelling and breaking down complex topics in ways that make them accessible and relevant. Remember: patients follow healthcare practices on social media for a variety of reasons. They want medical insights and practical information, and also to peek into the inner workings of your office and get to know your team. Aim to incorporate a mix of different types of posts into your strategy.
Plan campaigns and schedule posts
One of the best ways to stay consistent is to create a posting schedule. Then build time into your daily routine to create and schedule content.
To build a content calendar, first list any relevant holidays or events you want to feature. For instance, if colorectal cancer screening is important to your patients, plan to create content during Colorectal Cancer Month (March) that highlights statistics and testing.
Add in local and regional events, such 5K races, fundraisers, or municipal activities in which you or your staff participate. These types of posts are a great way to connect with other organizations and engage in your community.
Then, add practice milestones or events, like the anniversary of your opening, or a week you plan to offer a discount on a particular service. (Avoid team birthdays, as publicizing them can create privacy issues.)
Consider establishing a day a week on which to post repeating themed content as another way to create consistency. Your theme should be simple, fun, and easy to create content around indefinitely. For example:
- Test results Tuesday: Break down a different diagnostic tool or procedure from your specialty and explain what it is, how it’s used, and why it matters.
- What’s for dinner Wednesday: Share a recipe that applies to your patient population.
- Get to know your [position]: Post a short “person on the street”-style video interviewing a team member about one thing they want patients to know.
Finally, fill in the gaps with positive testimonials from patients, new staff introductions, or topical content.
Once you outline your content plan for each month, the next step is to think about hashtags. These descriptive, clickable keyword tags help viewers not only learn what your message is about, but find your posts. If you post a story featuring a nurse, using #nurses will help make your post searchable for anyone looking for content about a nurse. You can also create your own hashtags as a part of your brand or look for and use the hashtag associated with trending news stories. Just be sure to be judicious, since more than 5 hashtags per post can make you look like spam.
Protect patients’ privacy
It goes without saying that no matter what kinds of posts you choose to create, they absolutely must comply with HIPAA.
Anyone creating or posting content on behalf of your medical practice should be familiar with HIPAA as well as with your brand guidelines. Create a policy that includes:
- Clear expectations about what to post and why
- Instructions on how to respond to negative posts
- Platform laws and rules to follow
- A process to ensure HIPAA compliance
- Safety protocols
Patient privacy isn’t the only thing to consider. It’s equally important to set clear boundaries to protect your own privacy and ensure that what you’re sharing is appropriate. If you wouldn’t share a particular personal detail with the most difficult and untrustworthy person you know, do not share it on social media. Birthdays, any content that could be used to reveal a home address (such as a recipe video that reveals the view out a kitchen window), or pets with their tags visible can all put staff at risk.
Address negative reviews and comments
Unfortunately, receiving a negative comment on social media is pretty much inevitable, but it’s not an occasion to panic. If the comment is threatening, offensive, or inappropriate, it’s okay to delete it and block the user. But if the critical comment comes from a disgruntled patient who had an issue with their experience, it’s better to respond directly.
Tebra’s Patient Perspectives report found that most patients are willing to accept apologies and reasonable explanations before leaving a provider. In fact, 64% of patients say they would go back to a practice if it addressed the negative review.
When you contact a patient promptly about a negative post or comment, you demonstrate your willingness to listen and address concerns. This can help you to retain patients — and attract new ones.
Maximize your reach with sponsored content
Once your social media profiles are up and running with a decent amount of content, consider sponsored content.
Sponsored content looks organic but is paid advertising that appears directly in users’ feeds, where they can engage with it like any other post. Sponsored content is becoming a necessary part of social media marketing and can be highly effective. With sponsored content, you can reach people beyond your followers. As with other digital advertising, sponsored content allows you to target specific audiences based on a location or interest. You can even build look-alike audiences to target people within the geographic location and demographic parameters of your existing followers. This increases the likelihood that prospective patients will see your content.
Whether you use sponsored content or stick with organic posts, make sure that your posts drive viewers to a medical practice website designed to help your practice grow.
Follow other providers
Finally, follow, interact with, and learn from other providers who are killing it on social media. Look to other providers for inspiration to learn new tricks and stay on top of current trends.
Remember: at the end of the day, the goal is to connect with patients and prospects. People respond to authenticity, so make sure the person they meet in the profile is the same person they meet in the exam room.
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