Friday Nov 22, 2013

3 Ways Healthcare Can Leverage Social Media

Today’s post comes from Director of Outbound Product Strategy for the Oracle Social Cloud Angela Wells after a highly successful webinar she presented on the use of Social Media in the healthcare vertical.  Learn what she says and your blood pressure might go down a little.


handbonesAs important and relevant as healthcare is in all of our lives, it's gratifying to know that many healthcare companies are actually doing a whole lot right online.  They’re building connections with their current and potential patients with each additional useful piece of information and improved digital experience.


I recently hosted a webinar about how healthcare companies are using social media.  Thank you to everyone that attended and contacted me with additional insights and questions.  (If you missed it, you can still check it out here.)  For several years, I consulted with leading healthcare companies to help improve their patient experience and marketing.  Social media offers a great channel to connect with key stakeholders, provided it is appropriately used.  Here are some essential ways to leverage social media for success:


Actively Engage with Potential Patients

In healthcare or any industry, the key to successfully connecting with potential customers is to provide value – always provide value from your customer’s perspective, not value to your company in that you’re raising awareness of a brand, idea, or promotion.  In healthcare, providing value means providing useful information, which may mean highlighting your own organization’s research or summarizing other research in ways that regular people can understand (not just people who work in healthcare).  Additional important ways to engage with potential patients include:

  • Leverage the unique opportunity of social – be active on social media and provide relevant info where people are looking.
  • Offer insights into healthcare changes – leverage this unique time to be a resource to confused consumers and businesses.
  • Enable online scheduling, doctor searches, and relevant info.


Successfully Connect with Caretakers and Loved Ones of Patients

Most successful healthcare organizations have probably already figured out that patients aren’t the only ones who matter.  The loved ones and caretakers of patients are incredibly important.  The Pew Internet and Health survey reported that 54% of online health searches were on behalf of someone else.  


Since people are searching online for health information for others, you must provide information that helps them care for and advances health conversations with their loved ones.  Ways to connect with caretakers include:  

  • Build relationships through online communities – They provide a valuable way to manage the tricky balance between intimacy & anonymity, so caretakers can be open about their experiences and concerns.
  • Offer resources specific to their perspectives – Suggested conversation starters and checklists can provide valuable comfort to caretakers.
  • Provide info, advice and empathy – Realize caretakers are impacted by a patient’s health too, and offer a forum for support.
  • Enable easy sharing with the patients – Make sure your content can be forwarded, posted, and printed so caretakers can easily pass the information to their loved ones.


Attract Top Tier Talent

Leveraging social media can give your organization a chance to present a brand and experience that will attract potential employees.  The almost unavoidable (necessary evil?) job sites have been around for years… but that’s unlikely to be your actual recruiting path for the best hires.  Over time, your organization can build connections with passive job searchers.  When they’re ready to leave their current jobs, they’ll think of you. 

  • Network where they are and through their peers & groups – Your current employees can provide valuable connections to future employees through their friends, previous coworkers, and classmates. 
  • Make it easy to get to know you – Formats like videos and blogs can help bring your brand to life for potential employees.
  • Follow relevant hashtags and handles – Forums like Twitter chats can help you listen to perspectives on key topics and offer a chance to raise awareness of your organization’s key points of view.  One you can check out is #hcsm for healthcare and social media on Sunday nights at 9pm EST. 

So What’s Next?

Learn from the best.  Check out sites like www.mhadegree.org to learn from the most social media-friendly hospitals.  The MHA Degree provides a scorecard of the hospitals that can help you identify some great ideas your organization can use as well.

Photo: stock.xchng

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