How healthcare providers can get well on social media.

Adoption may have been gradual, but the healthcare industry has finally come to grips with the fact that social is here to stay. And while that’s a huge milestone to meet, it doesn’t stop there.

Social media for many healthcare providers is like a universal television remote – you use it to turn on a TV, change the channel, and change the volume, but who the heck knows what all the other buttons do. Providers are not harnessing the full power of social media. The result is that we see national healthcare companies with thousands of followers but single-digit likes and shares in the engagement column.

And that means only one thing: Content isn’t connecting. Make it hit harder with these ideas on creating more thoughtful content for your unique audience.

Social media is not just for public relations.
Using social media just for your public relations department limits the power of social. It needs to be woven throughout your departments, including product development, sales, customer service, human resources, communications, and marketing. For example, product development can use social media to engage its membership and learn what health plans they do or don’t like. Or customer service can use social media to answer non-HIPAA questions like, “How do I find my explanation of benefits?”

Be what your audience expects you to be.
If I want to learn about a medical issue, I go to WebMD or to the Mayo Clinic’s website. It’s how I’m wired. I’m not saying I would never look up medical information or tips through my healthcare provider’s website or social media pages, but it’s simply not my go-to source. At the end of the day, a healthcare provider puts itself in the best position possible by providing content that helps members to navigate the complex waters of healthcare. So do just that. Provide your audience with pertinent information about copayments, costs, and how to select the best plan.

Involve your audience.
No matter what topic you’re discussing, try to pose a question or ask for your followers’ opinions on the matter to get them in the conversation. And once they respond, keeping talking! Have an authentic dialogue without always relying on canned answers. After all, this is social, so don’t be afraid to be a butterfly.

Social media is just one piece of your overall content strategy.
Social media shouldn’t happen on an island; it should be a piece of your entire content strategy that involves your blogs, website, and email marketing. In truth, your content strategy should help you stay consistent and on message across all channels.

Be compliant.
As a healthcare provider, you don’t have the same freedoms as other brands due to regulations and the constantly changing political landscape that creates a perception of you that’s not very positive. But don’t let that hold you back. Consider taking the following steps:

  • Get support from executives by sharing research that supports social media as a tactic
  • Put a policy in place that provides guidelines for any employees representing your brand on social media
  • Create a training and certification program that encourages ongoing education on social media best practices
  • Include representatives from different departments to address concerns and questions, and to understand how social can help contribute to each department’s goals
  • Provide a review process that is quick and efficient but still ensures the right level of governance for any posts

As social media continues to evolve, there’s no reason healthcare providers shouldn’t stay current with best practices. And, as always, if you want to talk more about a tailored strategy, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.