In a recent study conducted by Search Engine Watch, 90% of participants ages 18-24 reported that they trust medical information shared via social media. This is great news; except when that medical information is coming from unreliable sources. That is one reason, among many, why it is important for those in the medical field to have a social media presence. Hospitals and doctor’s offices alike should establish a social presence in order to help control the conversation. Here is what you need to know to make social media work in the medical field.
Choose the Right Platforms
Starting out, you will need to decide which platforms make the most sense for your goals and target demographic. A 2012 study found that 82.2% of U.S. hospitals were creating Facebook pages. Was yours one of them? Clearly Facebook is the place to be. As the largest social media network with 1.44 billion users, you cannot go wrong with creating a Facebook page.
If you have a younger audience, say you offer medical services to students at a University, then Twitter may be the social platform for you. Twitter has a younger demographic and focuses on micro pieces of content (140 characters to be exact). On the other hand, if you are a facility specializing in breast cancer treatment, Pinterest may best reach your target demographic. Choosing the right platform begins with knowing your audience, which leads us to the next point.
Know Your Audience
If you’re trying to pick the right platform for your audience, you of course will need to really understand your audience. For some health care facilities, like a children’s hospital, this may be easier. But for hospitals that offer an array of services and focus on many different specialties, this can be more challenging.
If you are going to create one social media page for your entire hospital, you will want to identify the needs of each individual audience member. That means understanding what neurology patients would be interested in versus expectant mothers. It also means knowing the difference between the needs of a patient versus a visitor. Try to let your posts meet all of these needs simultaneously by varying your post topics or keeping them more general.
Focus on Education
One of the main reasons hospitals are engaging with social media is to help facilitate and control the conversation surrounding medical information and education. More and more, people are going to the internet and social media sites to self-diagnose. Those of us who have conducted a search for “ear ache” only to discover we probably have a blood clot know all too well the importance of accessing reliable health information on the web. And you can provide it! Focusing your social media sites on educating the public about your services as well as health issues can provide a truly reliable health source to millions of people. You just have to be aware of the regulations that may be hindering you.
Understand Privacy and Regulations
The biggest obstacle with social media and the medical field is protecting individuals’ privacy and following both organizational and legal regulations. Before you or a coworker begin your social media endeavors, ensure that “rules” for sharing certain information and for giving medical advice are outlined beforehand ad approved by your legal team. This will protect you in the future from posting any “border line” content.
We hope that you officially feel ready to kick off your social media campaign. If you need assistance with setting up or managing a social media strategy, please do not hesitate to contact Informatics.
View the rest of the healthcare digital marketing blogs from this month: