Social media provide great tools for small hospitals! Are you using them correctly?

By the end of the year, more than 80 percent of Americans are expected to have a social media account. If you are one of those people who check Facebook before you even get out of bed, you probably aren’t surprised. More and more of us are using social media platforms to read the news, check out upcoming events and see what others are up to.

For hospitals, social media are powerful tools for connecting to the local community and spreading the word about what is happening at their facilities. Through my experience working with hospitals on their social media strategies, I have found that it’s not uncommon to have more people following us on Facebook than subscribers to local newspapers.

A professional social media strategy

Contrary to popular belief, posting to Facebook isn’t an everyone-can-do-it kind of job. It takes professional knowledge and a clear strategy to make an impact. There is more to the job than simply posting information. Users have to consider the audience, timing, content and purpose before posting anything.

That is why it’s important to designate someone who has an understanding of the unique possibilities and opportunities that social media platforms allow. The social media manager should understand the right kinds of content to post and know how to moderate conversations and promote engagement.

You can become a voice for your community

Social media provide a great way to connect with local community members. From small businesses and nonprofits to individuals, these platforms provide a way to keep others informed about what is happening and to promote events in the area.

Hospitals are constantly working to establish themselves as the local authority on issues related to community health. Helping users find the information they need about local resources and health-related issues is a great way to increase awareness of your facility and provide a valuable service to your neighbors. And because you can post in an instant, keeping people up to date on information they need has never been easier.

Social media aren’t just other platforms for your advertising

One of the biggest mistakes hospital marketing teams make is treating social media as another way to publish advertising material. Yes, social media have an advertising function, but the way people interact with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is completely different from the ways they relate to traditional advertising.

Social media are meant to start conversations. Smart strategies find ways to engage users and encourage them to think and react. Providing content that matters to people drive a good social- media strategy. From health-related articles to photos from recent events, people want something more than advertising from your social media account.

Think like a social media professional

Social media have changed the way a lot of businesses think about their marketing strategies. The ones who use it successfully do so not by posting whatever they want whenever they want. They do their homework, take time to create compelling and useful content, and are patient and persistent at working toward building an online following. Professional thinking separates weak accounts from ones that increase exposure and engage the community.

SRJ has worked with dozens of businesses and rural hospitals to build successful social media plans. With a content-driven approach and an eye on the local community, we have built large followings for clients, who saw real results and increased their visibility in their communities. Though the Web can be accessed from anywhere on earth, we believe that a local approach is the most successful way to use this powerful tool. To learn more about how SRJ can help your hospital or business with social media management, please call 214-528-5775 for a free consultation.