Blog Post Five Things Every Hospital Marketer Should be Doing Right Now

Five Things Every Hospital Marketer Should be Doing Right Now
Aug

10

2013

Five Things Every Hospital Marketer Should be Doing Right Now

Social Media in healthcare has seen a tremendous growth in the past few years. Still, it is well behind the curve of other similar sized-organizations. A little over one-quarter of all hospitals in the US have a social media profile, according to a recent study by DC Interactive Group regarding social media for hospitals. There are plenty of excuses, from staffing problems to technical dizziness. But none is acceptable anymore. Facebook has over a billion users. It’s time the healthcare industry goes with it. And the ideal person to execute this is the hospital marketer.

Let’s look at healthcare consumers. About one-third of consumers use social sites for health-related matters. And these patients are sharing their experiences, with 44% of respondents saying they were likely or very likely to share a positive experience they had with a hospital. More notably, 40% said they were likely or very likely to share a negative experience they had with a hospital. So like it or not, patients are talking about your organization.

Here are 5 tips every hospital marketer should be doing right now.

1. Tell Impact-full Stories from your Patients

Perhaps the greatest value of social media is the ability to quickly and easily connect with patients. From there, it’s up to the hospital marketer to make this connection meaningful.

Often, the best way to accomplish this is by telling meaningful, powerful patient stories. Luckily for us, these stories already exist out there. We just have to find them.

To do this, track any keyword or hashtag that relates to your organization. A third-party platform such as Topsy can facilitate this. If you don’t find much, start soliciting patient stories. From there, you can share them on Facebook, retweet them on Twitter, or write up a blog post, which you can then link to on Facebook and Twitter. In some cases, YouTube may be the best storytelling medium.

There are countless ways to share positive patient experiences through social media. And the more often you do it, the easier the process will become.

2. Constant Innovating from the hospital marketer

Another benefit of social media campaigns versus traditional marketing campaigns is that you can afford to take more risks. If a marketing campaign bombs, you’ve wasted money on print materials and advertising space. But, in most cases, if a social media campaign misses the mark, you’re only real cost is the time it took to execute it. Besides, in social media taking a risk can pay off big.

Here are some ideas to start innovating:
  • Live-tweet a surgery
  • Facebook fundraising experiments
  • Set up weekly Twitter chats
  • Use social media to attract new physicians and staff
  • Ask a patient to live-tweet a “day in the life” at your organization
Get creative and see what sticks. As a bonus, local press love to cover innovative hospital social marketing efforts.

3. It’s time for some risk mitigation

Of course, using social media to promote your organization has its risks. As much as people enjoy sharing positive feedback online, they seem to enjoy sharing negative feedback even more. It’s the nature of the beast. But this is absolutely not a reason to avoid social media altogether.

Most people using social media aren’t new. Therefore, most people using social media know that the anonymity users have on some sites turn people into hate-filled harping conspiracy theorists. You can just tell when a commenter has taken a couple crazy pills. Most Internet users put everything they read online through a filter and, for hospital marketers, this acts as a barrier of sorts.

That said, there are some steps you should take to mitigate your social media risk. Make sure that you have a comprehensive social media policy for employees and that the policy is up to date. Employees should sign a document stating that they understand they are not to post any patient information or any negative comments about the organization.

It’s also important to make sure all providers understand where the boundary lies when communicating with patients on social media. While you’re at it, ask physicians whether they have a public Twitter account or blog where they postulate about anything healthcare related.

Doctors represent your organization, so it’s critical to know what they’re putting out there. Social media savvy docs can also be great allies when formulating a new campaign.

4. Watch out your Competition

The healthcare industry as a whole is behind the curve, but many hospitals are true social media stand-outs. Mayo Clinic tops the list of social media trailblazers and provides helpful information to other organizations through its Center for Social Media. UPMC is also a top organization to go to for social media tips, especially its well-maintained Facebook page. And if you’re looking for Twitter inspiration, check out MassGeneralNews account. They tweet a variety of posts on anything from health topics to hospital rankings to volunteer opportunities. Keep an eye on these organizations to see how they launch campaigns, respond to criticism, and deal with employees.

5. Keep Track of and Analyse Everything

None of this counts if you can’t view the statistics that tell you which efforts are working, which fell flat, which are tapering off, and which have found a second life. Keep count of your followers and likes, of how many people clicked your links, of how long visitors stayed on that blog post. This information will help you better tailor future social campaigns and give you solid numbers to report to your superiors.

With these five tips, your hospital marketer should be able to commit to having a strong presence in the social media world now and for years to come.

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