In previous posts, we’ve explained how healthcare organizations can use social media to create a healthy buzz. We’ve also explained that social media is not magic: simply having Facebook and Twitter accounts does not automatically mean that your healthcare organization is reaching and engaging your stakeholders through social media.
You also know what a healthy buzz could produce for your organization: meaningful relationships with your existing and future stakeholders. That seems like a lofty outcome. But, as other healthcare organizations have proven, it is achievable. Let’s investigate how healthcare organizations can use social media to build good relationships with their stakeholders.
Way #1: Promotion
One of the most obvious answers to the question of how healthcare organizations can use social media is to advertise. Successful healthcare organizations use social media to advertise changes to their branding. To introduce new administrators and staff members. To showcase how their customers have had positive experiences with their organization. To recruit new workers. To promote routine services. To publicize special events (for example, cancer screenings). To introduce new facilities and services.
In short, healthcare organizations use social media to highlight positive points about their organizations. Social media is an excellent advertising vehicle for healthcare organizations because it is inexpensive to use and is highly accessible to healthcare customers from a variety of backgrounds.
Way #2: Education
Although successful healthcare organizations use social media primarily as a means of promotion, a growing number of healthcare organizations use social media to educate their past, current, and future customers. Some healthcare organizations use social media to promote health education resources, such as infographics, blog articles, and videos that they have created. They may also link to other credible resources available elsewhere online, such as by providing RSS feeds to trusted sources.
Even those healthcare organizations that do not specialize in primary care are using social media to educate on disease prevention and management. Through their efforts on social media, healthcare organizations can create and support high-quality resources on health education that can positively impact the knowledge base of customers.
Way #3: Care Management
As many healthcare organizations know all too well, it is difficult to ensure that healthcare customers are compliant to their treatment plans after discharge from a facility or between healthcare appointments. Even when provided printed instructions, follow up calls, and information about how to access online resources, healthcare customers struggle with compliance to treatment.
To remedy this, innovative healthcare organizations have used social media to help their customers maintain compliance through applications that remind customers to take medications or allow them to have video consultations with their physicians. Healthcare organizations have used both popular social media like Facebook and specially-designed social media platforms like RevUp) to interact with patients online without violating HIPAA guidelines.
Healthcare organizations may be afraid of using social media for promotion because of potential negative comments on their social media posts. If a healthcare organization wants to avoid the possibility of negative comments on their public social media posts, they can opt to screen comments before they post. Healthcare organizations can choose if and how interactive features of social media platforms, such as those available on Twitter, are used as they market themselves.
However, some healthcare organizations invite responses of all kind to their posts. Instead of being afraid of bad press on their social media, these healthcare organizations want to use social media to heal strained relationships with their customers. While risky, this strategy can help healthcare organizations reflect on the experiences customers have.
Ultimately It’s About Building Healthier Relationships
The ultimate answer to the question of how healthcare organizations can use social media is that the skies the limit. Healthcare organizations can use social media not just to market to their stakeholders, but to engage them in discussion, collaboration, and (most importantly) building meaningful, long-lasting relationships. As you are considering the reasons your healthcare organization is using social media, consider how other healthcare organizations have achieved goals similar to your own. And don’t be afraid to innovate: it’s better to make a few mistakes then to avoid the tremendous opportunities available for building relationships with social media.