Congratulations! Your medical practice or health system has joined the social media movement and you are now connecting with current and potential patients online. Though you may be off to a good start, this is not the time to take your following for granted. Many of your competitors are also interested in gaining your base. So, let’s talk about the pitfalls that could send your followers elsewhere and how to avoid them:
1) Becoming ‘noise’. Are your updates so uninteresting that your followers gloss right over them? If so, you are training them to tune your brand out. When you do have something interesting to say, they may not even look because they have learned to equate your name with useless or mundane information.
2) Sending spam. Social media marketing is inherently self-promotional. But too much blatant self-promotion can seem cocky, and even worse, be interpreted as spam. No one wants constant ads running on their social media feed; they want genuine, entertaining or useful broadcasts.
3) One-way communication. Social media is social. It’s set up for interaction and users expect the brands that they follow to engage them. This means you can broadcast, but you must also listen and respond. Users who have attempted to contact or engage a brand that doesn’t respond are likely to turn elsewhere to get the interaction and validation they crave.
4) Becoming lazy. Social media is like a pet, a child or a spouse. It is, in reality, hundreds of your clients rolled into one, manageable forum. Just as you cannot forget to feed your dog, bathe your child or connect with your partner, you cannot forget to put time and energy into your social media. You don’t have to spend hours planning and updating, but you do need to take time to respond to inquiries and broadcast thoughtful updates.
Examples of social media done right:
Dana Farber Cancer Institute is a wonderful example of a system with engaged fans. The system has around 5,000 facebook followers, many of whom comment on posts. A question that garnered a ton of response: “What was the least helpful, most inconsiderate, or just plain dumbest thing someone has said to you as a cancer survivor? (We’ve heard some doozies!)” The content is also stellar: updates on notable patients, inspiring stories and useful links for those affected by cancer.
Knoxville Hospital does a great job of posting a variety of meaningful and fun updates. There are YouTube videos, healthy recipes, informative blurbs on doctor availability and classes – just to name a few.
UConn Hospital’s YouTube channel has a number of resourceful videos. They’re displaying t.v. news stories about their hospital, doctor profiles, patient stories and much more.
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