By Nicole Ervast, Business Development Associate
Healthcare is a difficult industry in which to market. It is both a product and a service, and it is consumer-driven. But, going to the hospital is not something people ever want to do. It’s not like buying ice cream or visiting a theme park or purchasing a new computer. People don’t buy healthcare products and/or services because they feel like it; they do so usually because they are in pain. This may be obvious to those who work in healthcare, but it sure makes marketing your brand difficult. With the marketing hardships of hospitals in mind, I’ve put together 8 tips for effective social media marketing.
Tip #1: Use hashtags sparingly, but effectively
The right hashtags can help you reach more people. If you don’t use hashtags, only your followers can see what you post. By using hashtags, you can get your content in front of a lot more people who are interested in a given topic. I use a tool called Hashtagify.me to find relevant hashtags relating to topics I’m posting about for Keystone. Be careful how many you use, though–having a post crowded with too many hashtags can deter people from reading your post and clicking.
Tip #2: Use images!
People are visual. Images have been proven to show more engagement than just text on social media. Use images as much as you can, whether you take your own photos, or purchase stock images on a site like Shutterstock. If you don’t have the resources to take your own photos and you don’t have the budget for stock images, Pexels offers a selection of free stock images.
Tip #3: Don’t just talk about yourself
Social media is about having a conversation. Nobody likes reading walls of text by the user who can’t stop posting about him/herself. On the same token, nobody pays attention to the business that is constantly self-promoting. Be sure to interact with your followers and the social media community at large.
Tip #4: Educate
Tips on healthy living are trending. Use this to your advantage! If you make it a priority to educate the public, they will view your hospital not just as a scary place to go when you get sick, but as a useful resource for learning how not to get sick. Post daily or weekly health tips, or re-post articles on healthy living. Popular topics include weight loss and how to protect yourself from cancer.
Tip #5: Use a social posting platform
Although this may require a small financial investment, it is worth it. I save so much time on social media marketing by using Oktopost, a tool that allows me to schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all from the same place. It also provides an overall analysis of online engagement and return on investment. Other tools include Sprout Social, Buffer and Hootsuite (the last two even have a basic free plan).
Tip #6: Post regularly
You want your hospital to be seen as a reliable resource. If you have big gaps in between posts, it may seem like your hospital is not reliable or not that interested in its online community. If you can’t commit to being on multiple social networks, narrow your focus to just the ones that are most important for your hospital, and make sure you manage them and post on a daily basis.
Tip #7: Get your employees and clinicians involved
Nothing is more convincing of the credibility of a hospital than the support of its employees and the words of its clinicians. Try to get everyone at the hospital engaged in your community. Have your clinicians write pieces of advice on health and wellness, and post them on your page. This makes both the hospital and the clinicians more personable and helps possible patients feel confident in your products and services.
Tip #8: Be human
The importance of being human cannot be overemphasized. Don’t come off as robotic or business-like. When you write posts or comment on other posts, make sure it reads like a conversation. Use exclamation points and smileys (within reason). Be professional, but personable.
Effective social media marketing is not easy or simple, especially in the healthcare realm. But it is worth the return on investment. Keep posting thoughtfully and with your audience in mind, and you will see it!