I have now met with quite a few hospitals/polyclinics and many have asked me the question about how should one leverage social media? Here are some pointers.
The Case for Social Media
Social media is real and its here to stay (its not a passing fad). Another simple argument is that majority of today’s patients are on social media compared to newspapers or radio or TV. So the way to market and receive feedback from patients has to change from a simple static website to digital marketing. Whatever might be the definitions/forms of social media maybe, it simply means hospitals and healthcare providers have to market their services and facilities in social media effectively and utilize social media for patient feedback and improving patient care.
How to leverage it?
First suggestion is its important to have the mindset that this is a part of the overall marketing strategy and not a one-time, one-off project. Here is a mini guide to start with:
1. Create a profile: At this time, facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr are the ones that makes the most sense. The last two as free storage for your videos and photos on your website plus adds up to create the network effect. So no more photos, videos on your website, instead move them to a social media storage.
2. Update frequently: The content needs to be refreshed on both Facebook and Twitter for it to add any value. It could be newsletters, events, updates etc. that you want to update on facebook . Same with Twitter, update frequently with links to your website, youtube videos etc., retweet if you don’t have too many new things (also OK to have a few canned items). Don;t feel the pressure to create new content every day, its more about having a plan and guideline than about creating new content every day. Roughly 1-2 messages on facebook a week is good.
3. Request feedback on facebook: As part of a standard practice, request for feedback about their experience in facebook (you can manage negative feeedback; don’t worry!). Note everytime the feedback is shared is an opportunity to reach out/market to their friends. Keep a goal like getting 10% feedback from patients and run campaigns around to achieve it.
4. Get patients to ‘Like’ the facebook page – This is of huge value since the messages will show in the news stream for the patients and possibly their circle as well.
5. Tagging and meta-data: This is very crucial for reaching the right audience. Similar to SEO keywords in search, one needs to develop a list of #tags and meta-data to include in each of the postings (a guideline) to ensure it reaches the right group. This applies to all posts including videos on youtube.
6. Reputation Management: Besides managing the direct posts/feedback, there are a variety of sites like mouthshut.com (in India) and Google local that support reviews on all topics including hospitals, healthcare providers etc. As part of a social media strategy should include a process to scan it (its pretty easy to find all at once) and respond to it if appropriate or minimize any negative impact from such a post.
7. Overall plan with success metrics: I could go on and write a few more bullets. but like I said earlier, its important to use digital marketing as part of the overall strategy and to allocate time, resources and specific success expectation like any other business initiative.
Typically as part of SmartRx Engage implementation, we work with hospitals to increase patient engagement and that includes social media strategy as well.