Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the healthcare industry has experienced a change—from patient to “consumer” and from passive to active participant in healthcare services utilization. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to find unique and relevant ways to engage with potential patients.

A simple, direct way to do this is through social media. And yet, few healthcare organizations are taking full advantage of this forum. Fortunately, there’s no time like the present to take steps to rejuvenate your brand’s social media efforts.

Here are some of our top tips:

1) Start with strategy. Always.

When evaluating your social media strategy, or looking to create one if it does not already exist, start by asking some simple questions.

What are your strategic goals? Is your desire to create a following? Increase traffic to your website or blog? Generate revenue? All of the above? It’s important to be specific in what you hope to gain from a social media strategy by setting clear objectives.

Who is your target audience? Where do they spend their time? Be keenly aware of your desired audience’s preferred social channels, and how they engage with each platform. For example, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media channels. Of its current 70 million users, 80% are women. Use information like this to decide where and how to best reach your target audiences.

How will you measure success? Is it likes and follows? Comments and shares? Engagement levels? Use specific metrics, such as percent increase or goal engagement rates, to determine if your efforts are successful. Once you’ve done this, track what’s working and what’s not to adjust your plan accordingly.

Pro Tip: Goal setting is not one and done. Create a social media schedule that ladders up to your overall goals. And, check in regularly to find what works best and what doesn’t. Then, adjust accordingly.

2) Show and tell. But mostly show.

The fastest growing social media channels—Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat—are all visually driven. In fact, this infographic from DOMO shows us how much of this visual data is generated every minute of the day. The numbers are staggering! Users of Instagram post 200K+ times, Pinterest users pin almost 2500 images, and Facebook users share 2.5 million pieces of content. Per minute! It’s time to get in on this visual action.

Because visual content is more likely to be shared, treat your social media as a giant game of show and tell. Share photos and videos to help connect with your audience, many of whom learn better visually. Plus, your audience will pay more attention when you create a strong visual marketing experience, which in turn will organically expand your reach.

Pro Tip: Get creative with your visual content beyond just pictures. Think about creating and sharing infographics like the one above (especially if you have dense information), or interesting/informative videos.

3) It’s not (about) me. It’s (about) YOU.

Ever had a conversation with someone who only talks about him or herself? Not fun, is it? Well, it isn’t any more fun on social media.

Work to generate content that is interesting, useful, and relevant to your target audience. Overly promotional content or posts that only talk about your organization and capabilities will turn users away quickly. The industry standard varies, but aim for an 80/20 balance—80% of content is interesting and engages your audience in conversation, while 20% of your content promotes your brand.

If you struggle to find interesting and relevant content, set up free Talkwalker Alerts or Google Alerts to monitor the web for news. Read the comments section of your blog and social media pages to generate topic ideas. Take advantage of promotional weeks/months (e.g. February Heart Health Month, April Organ Donation Month, etc.). And, always subscribe to industry newsletters and publications to find the latest trends and hot topics.

Pro Tip: Poll your social media audiences for topic inspiration. What are they interested in reading? You might be surprised by the response!

4) Conversation is a two-way street.

In the social media universe, users expect response. Conversation—and engagement—cannot be one sided. Always keep the conversation going by responding to comments, answering questions or complaints promptly, and re-tweeting or sharing, when appropriate. In other words, when users engage with your brand, you should engage back with them.

In the quest to garner attention on social media, a key component to engaging your users is learning about their interests/needs and personalizing your message when available. If you truly understand the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of your target audience, you can better speak to and converse with them.

Pro Tip: Try implementing something like a “question of the week” where you highlight user questions and provide expert answers. This will improve your position as thought leader in the industry, while personalizing your message and encouraging sharing of content.

5) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

A blog post is only a blog post because you posted it on your blog. That content could take on many other shapes and sizes if you repurposed it for other social media channels. This is especially useful if you are short on new topics, so why not utilize what you already have? Repurpose content from other existing platforms, such as press releases, newsletters, and blog posts, for substance on other channels. And, be sure to use every device at your disposal. For example, a YouTube video can be repurposed as a video blog post, then promoted via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The recycling of content will increase the longevity of your topics, especially if you use cross-platform promotion to get the most bang for your buck. Play up the strengths of different channels (i.e., YouTube for videos, Instagram for pictures, etc.) to reuse and repurpose your social content.

Pro Tip: Learn how “create less, promote more” can become your mantra with the article “Repurposing Content: Top Benefits, Techniques & Tools.”

A likely reason for healthcare’s apprehension to embrace social media is that it is an intimidating and ever-changing beast. Taming it seems like a colossal task. But in the era of the engaged healthcare consumer, social media is one of the most cost effective ways to begin forming a relationship with your target audience, which especially crucial in the era of population health. These tips will guide you in your quest to create, rejuvenate, or improve your social media presence.

What about you? What are some of your favorite tips? Let us know by commenting below!

 

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