Social media: Is your hospital getting engaged?

Don’t believe that social media are important for hospitals? A recent survey found that social media influenced nearly half of respondents who were looking for healthcare services. Social media are becoming more and more useful tools for people making healthcare decisions.

But a smart social media strategy is more than just an advertisement for your hospital. It is a platform for engaging with patients and members of your local community in a way that didn’t exist just a few years ago. From sharing what is happening at your facility to soliciting feedback from users, social media provide a way to start conversations and build a community online.

It is also a useful way to establish your hospital as the local authority for health in your community. As any healthcare professional can attest, there is a lot of false or misleading information online. Social media provides an opportunity to demonstrate your hospital’s expertise by providing useful information about health trends or answering common questions about illnesses such as flus or colds.

Be a voice for the community

Hospitals play an important role in small towns. Most likely your facility is already involved in a number of local events and initiatives. Whether it’s cosponsoring summer picnics or holding wellness events, hospitals develop relationships with various local groups in their communities. Social media offer a great way to promote these causes and to keep your community up to date on what is going on. Think of ways to help your partners by promoting their causes via social media.

Share important health information

The Internet was built on the exchange of information. Your hospital’s social media page is a great place to share information about things such as vaccinations, healthy recipes and ways to prevent colds during the winter. By keeping your community informed throughout the year, you can help build a reputation for your facility as an authority on health in your community. This approach demonstrates both the competence of your medical professionals and your hospital team’s genuine concern for the health of their neighbors.

Remember to keep things fresh

Social media are an ongoing responsibility. This is the trickiest part of developing an effective strategy. Don’t forget to update regularly and to respond to feedback. When users post a question or feedback, they expect a timely and thoughtful response. Social media are not just another advertising platform; they provide a way to start a conversation.

Though inexpensive, social media take considerable work and commitment, so it is a good idea to designate someone to manage your hospital’s social media platforms. It is important to choose someone who can moderate conversations and promote engagement. Ask questions or ask people to post photos and stories.

As we become more and more enmeshed in the online world, patients are seeing the Internet and social media as indispensable tools for finding information about their health and making healthcare decisions. For that reason, hospitals are finding success by joining ever-growing social media platforms as a new way to keep up with their patients.

If your hospital is ready for a new approach to social media, call SRJ for a free consultation. SRJ Marketing Communications has the experience needed to help rural hospitals develop effective social media strategies that encourage engagement and spark conversation. To learn more about how your hospital or clinic can benefit, call SRJ at 214-528-5775 for a free consultation.