Social Media and Healthcare: Is it essential or trivial?

In Featured News, social media by getpushing

When you first think of social media, do you think about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+?  Or do you think about relationship building, creative, idea sharing and networking? What if I said that social media is both! In this day and age where social media is dominating the way we are reaching our audience and influencing their behaviors, why are healthcare businesses and organizations not embracing this tool?

More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. (infographic, Mediabistro) Also, 18 to 24 year olds are more than 2x likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussion. (infographic, Mediabistro)  Why are we including these statistics?

  1. If you are involved with a healthcare business or organization, if your patients or future patients are turning to social media for health-related advice, wouldn’t you want to be the first one giving them accurate information? By giving those patients the proper educational content, it creates a win-win situation for your patient and your business/organization.
  2. 18 to 24 year olds are essentially the generation that adopted social media and began creating new forms of communication, therefore making the it important for health care professionals to join in on this generation’s conversations where and when they are occurring.

Here are some tips that we believe can be useful to the healthcare industry when it comes to social media:

Social Media “Do’s”:  

  1. Have a Strategy in place. Be strategic and intentional in your postings and interactions. Don’t assume that you can just do it. Complete research, get prepared and come with a plan for the adventure of social media,
  1. Build Relationships with patients via social media. Don’t be afraid to interact with your patients. Good online interaction can lead to great relationships.
  1. Create Sharable content. Create content that speaks directly to your target audience. It will cause conversation and increase engagement between you and the audience.
  1. Analyze what types of content are resonating with your audience. Research your audience. Find out what interest your audience before posting. If you are aware of the interests of your audience, then you can better serve them.
  1. Serve as a resource to your patients and followers by listening and responding to questions. No matter the social media platform, your main objective should be informing your audience about health-related information and that can only be done by listening and responding to questions patients might have.
  1. Be authentic by creating a voice and personality for your organization. Two things most people can appreciate is transparency and authenticity. Every business/organization has its one quality that sets it apart. Patients/clients expect standards and consistency from their choice of business/organization.

Social Media Don’ts:

  1. Disregard negative feedback from patients. Neglect will increase negative feelings. For instance, if a dissatisfied client leaves a bad review on your business page with no response from the business/organization it reflects poorly on that business/organization. Therefore, the dissatisfied client could begin spreading their experience to family member, friends, coworkers, etc. As a result, that business/organization’s reputation can be altered. Have a reputation management system in place to properly respond to any and all comments.
  1. Violate privacy. Healthcare professionals are required by the HIPAA law to protect their patient’s privacy and security of certain health information.  When managing social media, it is imperative that we do not risk the privacy of the patients.
  1. Take Shortcuts by buying followers to build your community. When starting up on social media, you shouldn’t buy your followers. That signals to prospective patients that as a business/organization, you lack real impact and cannot connect effectively with your patients.
  1. Ignore the patients that are engaging. Don’t ever forget about the people who were there first. It is important to stay consistent with your engaging audience, it exemplifies that personal relationship, prospective patients are observing.
  1. Be overly promotional – simply touting your business isn’t social. It is acceptable to promote. The right balance of promoting and social is imperative. Engage with your audience, I mean, it is called social media for a reason.

Here at Pushing the Envelope, we have seen the successful impact of social media and its effects on our clients.  Through replying to patient’s concerns/feedback and creating content that is not only interesting, but educational, we have been able to see revolution not only our audiences but in our clients’ businesses/organizations.