Social Media in Health Care, Part 3 | Goals & Message Basics

Engaging your brand in social media is kind of a no-brainer – unless you’re in the healthcare industry. In our experience, some health organizations have been hesitant to foray into social media due to confusion about what to discuss, how to engage with patients, or fear of running afoul of HIPAA regulations.

This series attempts to break down the basics and offer some guidance as to how to navigate the social media waters.
In Parts 1 and 2, we took a look at the basics of choosing to engage in social media and the options that are out there. Now, we’ll review some of the goals and messaging basics.

The goals of social media in the healthcare industry are different than other industries. You’re not going to sell a coat or alarm clock with your social presence. Rather, focus on being less direct-response oriented and focus more on brand-building.

There’s a logical chain of events that can occur if you do one thing with your messaging:

Anticipate and answer patient questions before they have to ask

If you can do this, that information will relieve some of the intimidation and fear they experience → That helps patients feel empowered to make the best-informed decision for themselves and their families → And creating that positive experience for patients builds strong relationships with existing & potential patients → which all funnels into brand preference.

To accomplish the above, there are some simple rules to follow:

  • Keep it simple but professional. Use clear language and vernacular if discussing complex medical procedures.
  • Make it relatable – show the audience you understand them. One of the best ways to do that? See above: keep it simple.
  • Serve as a community resource. This could mean posting healthy recipes, introducing new providers to your network, discussing the latest flu outbreak you’ve seen in your facility, or offering tips on how to avoid getting sick.
  • Be responsive. If someone reaches out to you with a question or comment, respond to them. People will see your response, so take the high road if it’s a negative comment (or ignore it if it seems like someone is just trolling). Negative comments are a way to improve your organization. Take them seriously and try to start a discussion with the person who posted it. Find out what needs fixing. Generally speaking, though, take all conversations offline (call the patient, or have them call you, or stop in to see you) if there is risk of violating HIPAA restrictions.
  • Be visual whenever possible and include photos, simple graphics, or videos in your posts. Statistically, posts with a visual component typically get more reach and engagement.
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