Beyond the Buzz: 35 Success Strategies for Healthcare Social Media in 2015

January 2, 2015
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The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your social media strategy: to determine what’s working best, ditch or revise what isn’t, and resolve to build a stronger online brand. And if you’re a healthcare provider who hasn’t yet tested the social media waters, this is an excellent time to take the plunge. In today’s article I will share 35 ways for you to make 2015 the year you take your social media marketing to new heights of success.

1. Get Social

If you’re new to social media, take things slowly. You don’t need to jump on-board every channel – start by setting up a Facebook and/or Twitter account.  Listen to the conversations and get a feel for how things work.  Find a peer mentor to guide you through the first few months.  

Take Action: Check out symplur hashtag project for weekly health chats relevant to you.  Then join the chat; don’t worry about contributing at the start, you can learn a lot by listening. Use these chats to identify key influencers to follow.

2. Review Your Healthcare Social Media Strategy

If you are already active on social media,start 2015 with a review of your current strategy to see if it is still on target to achieve results. Are you marketing to your audience on the channels they frequent? Are your goals in line with your brand values? Are you monitoring your efforts?

Take Action: Answer these ten questions to hone your social media strategy.

3. Set Up Social Media Monitoring For Your Healthcare Brand

Social media is a two-way conversation that requires you to listen more than you talk. With increasing numbers of patients turning to the Internet to research their health and joining online patient communities to discuss their care, it is good practice to have a system in place for monitoring what is being said about you online. Monitoring helps you find pertinent healthcare conversations and gives you an opportunity to contribute your expertise to these conversations; it also helps you find healthcare influencers and opinion leaders; provides you with deeper insights into what your healthcare community needs; improves customer service and assists you in responding and resolving issues in real time.

Take Action: Find out how to set up social media monitoring for your healthcare brand with this guide.

4. Become Familiar With Professional Guidelines

Social media have blurred the distinction between personal and professional identities, challenging health care professionals to redefine professionalism in the digital age. The professional standards expected of health care professionals do not change because you are communicating through social media. Rather social media presents you with new circumstances to which the established principles still apply. 

Take Action: Review your professional body’s social media guidelines and policy to ensure that you are taking appropriate measures to ensure your own privacy and that of your patients at all times.  

5. Grow Your Email Subscriber List  

Email is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy that should not be overlooked.  It is one of the best ways to convert subscribers to customers.

Take Action: Here are some ways you can grow your subscriber list: 

  • Add an opt-in box to your website
  • Host an online webinar and collect email addresses at registration
  • Run an online contest and have entrants sign up or submit with their email address
  • Collect email addresses at offline event
  • Create a free downloadable resource such as an ebook 

6. Go Mobile

Mobile is no longer a secondary channel; it’s fast becoming a first-choice, and this trend is set to grow in 2015. If your website isn’t optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone, now is the time to make changes. We already know that Google penalizes sites that are not mobile friendly and in November 2014 Google announced that it is experimenting with giving sites a mobile friendly label which will boost the site’s Google ranking. It is going to be critical for businesses to optimize their mobile site for SEO so they can rank well on Google.

A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot: 

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Take Action:  If you want to make sure that your page meets Google’s mobile-friendly criteria, use this tool to check your pages. 

7. Check your website speed

Research has shown that nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.  A website that loads faster is an important part of your digital marketing.

Take Action: Here is a list of website speed test tools worth checking out

8. Measure Your Social Media Return On Investment (ROI)

How do you know if all that time you’ve invested in your social media marketing is paying off?  You don’t know unless you put a system in place to measure your ROI. Before you can measure ROI you need to set goals so you can determine which factors to measure and have a benchmark to measure it against. Popular metrics include reach, traffic, leads and conversion rate.

Take Action: There are many tools available to measure ROI. Twitter Analytics, Bit.ly and Facebook Insights providing a good starting point.

9. Prepare A Social Media Crisis Plan

Having an online presence has its advantages when it comes to healthcare marketing, but it does come with some risks. Patients can share their experiences online with the click of a mouse and their comments travel quickly through their social network. Journalists, ever-ready for a news scoop, may pick up on the story and run with it. A crisis can then escalate rapidly and you need to be ready to remedy the situation without delay. While you can’t control everything that happens on social media, you can control your response. The best way to handle a crisis is to have your response plan in place. 

Take Action: Follow this 3 stage approach to handling a social media crisis. 

10. Start A Health Blog

Blogs written by doctors, nurses, health researchers, patients, and healthcare and digital marketers and innovators add much to the richness and diversity of the online healthcare conversation. Many of these blogs are widely read and shared through social media, establishing their writers as authorities and go-to experts on a particular illness.

Take Action: Read The Beginner’s Guide To Healthcare Blogs for advice on how to start blogging.

11.  Create An Editorial Calendar

Use an editorial calendar to track seasonal, cultural and industry events and write a blog post which fits the theme, for example, “How To Eat Healthily During The Holiday Season”.  

Take Action: Check out Twitter’s #ownthemoment tool for inspiration.

12. Put A System In Place To Collect Content

Whether it’s an excel spread sheet, Google Docs, or another note-taking system, create a place to add links to interesting articles, studies or ideas for content to share.

Take action: Evernote is a useful online tool to store notes. You can add tags and create folders for easy retrieval.  The Evernote Chrome extension makes it simple to save links as you browse websites.  

13. Re-Purpose Your Content

To repurpose content means to take something that you have created and convert it for use in another format. This time-saving strategy extends the reach and life of you content.

Take Action: Check your blog’s analytics to see the most popular blog posts you’ve written. Can you expand on these to include new research or thinking? Perhaps the content can be turned into an infographic or a slide-deck.

14. Add A Call-To-Action To Your Content

Each time you write a blog post, or add new content to your website or Facebook page, you most likely have a goal in mind. Whether that goal is for a reader to share or comment on your latest blog, like your Facebook page, subscribe to your RSS feed, or purchase a product, adding a call to action increases the likelihood the reader will take the desired action and engage with you further. And if you are selling a healthcare product or service, a contextually relevant, fully optimized CTA is even more important to move the reader closer to becoming your customer.

Take Action: Check out this article for tips on adding a call-to-action to your healthcare content

15. Curate Content

Creating original content is time and resource intensive.  Curation helps you provide your audience with relevant, high quality information on a regular basis without sacrificing your time and resources. Don’t rely on curation alone; curated content is designed to complement your content creation plan—not replace it. 

Take Action: Set up an account on a content hub such as Curata, Rebel Mouse, or Scoop.it. Use it to create and build a community of shared interest and amplify your content. 

16. Write About A Trending Topic

A trending topic can get you noticed quickly; even more so if you add your unique perspective and expertise. 

Take Action. There are lots of ways to find out what’s “hot right now” online,  including Google Trends, Twitter.com/Search and Reddit.com. 

17. Write Better Headlines

Writing a good headline is an important part of drawing readers to your content. A good headline should be compelling enough to make someone click to read more. 

Take Action: Don’t just settle on one headline; create different titles for sharing across multiple platforms.

18. Use More Images

The trend for visual social media is set to accelerate, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram. You should ensure that every single post on your blog has at least one relevant image. Optimize your images for Google search by writing an image caption and adding relevant keywords to the file names that describe the content of the image.

Take Action: Avoid cheesy stock images; build up a photo library by using your own photographs and by finding suitable creative commons images using a tool like Compfight, a free Flickr search tool that makes image sourcing easier.

19. Create Compelling Visuals

Finding the right image can sometimes be challenging, so why not create your own?  There are many tools to help you create branded images. I like to use Canva and PicMonkey. Another way to create compelling visuals is through infographics. Infographics are valuable tools for healthcare providers to present complex information, educate patients, and brand and market a healthcare service in a creative and visually attractive way.  In terms of social media marketing, they are an effective way of spreading information (the “viral” process) across multiple social networking sites. 

Take Action: If you are serious about using infographics to inform and educate your patients or market your brand, it’s best to hire a specialist infographic designer. But, if you just want to have some fun and test your design skills, there are several tools to help you. Start with Infogram – a free, easy to use tool. 

20. Explore Pinterest

If you haven’t yet dipped your toe into Pinterest waters, take some time to explore the creative ways it is currently being used by NGOs, hospitals, healthcare professionals and pharma. Next determine if it fits with your marketing plan and if you can devise a consistent strategy which will produce quality images, videos and infographics to provide value to your audience and best leverage the site’s potential for your purpose. Creating boards of interest that highlight your knowledge allows you to build a personal brand and company people can relate to.

Take Action: Read about these three healthcare users who are using Pinterest to good effect. 

21. Promote Your Medical Practice With Instagram

Instagram is a good way to promote your medical practice and create community through using photos and videos. Instagram post engagement is up 416% over the last two years. 

Take Action: Use Instagram to share photos of your conference and events. Host photo contests, for example ask people to post their pictures of healthy eating. Use a hashtag to link the images.  Check out http://instagram.com/AdvocateHealth for an example of a healthcare brand on Instagram.

22. Optimize Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter profile is the first place someone will look when they go to your profile. If they find an egg instead of a picture and no bio details, your credibility is instantly called into question. Take some time to create a professional bio with a suitable profile picture. Use a close-up headshot of yourself or the logo of your business. In 2014 Twitter changed how your profile image appears so that you now have more options to brand your profile. Take advantage of this by adding a quality cover image to your profile to reflect your brand values. Add some relevant keywords and a link to your website to help people find you.

Take Action: Read more tips on optimizing your Twitter profile.

23Use Hashtags Wisely

Hashtags are a tool to make words more searchable; they help you connect with users who have similar interests. To create a hashtag, simply place # before a word. A hashtag on Twitter is a very popular way of creating and monitoring a conversation around a particular topic and can be a great way to engage your followers. However when #you use #too #many #hashtags your #tweet looks like #spam. Don’t use more than 2 hashtags per tweet. Tweets with more than two hashtags get 32% LESS engagement.

Take Action You will find a full list of health hashtags via Symplur’s Hashtag Project.

24. Live-Tweet Your 2015 Medical Conference And Events

Whether you are organzing a conference or event, or you are an attendee, live-tweeting is a way of engaging your Twitter followers by sending updates about an event as it occurs. It’s an effective means of amplifying the conference experience, generating international engagement and global reach and stimulating collaborative potential.

Take Action: See this guide to best practice for live-tweeting.

25. Schedule Your Tweets

Scheduling your Twitter updates allows you to invest a shorter period of time to gain more results.  It also allows you to reach a global audience. 

Take Action: Analyze the best times to post with Tweriod.

26. Use A Link Shortner For Your Links

Shortening long links in your tweets makes for a more streamlined experience for you and your followers. 

Take Action: Use a url shortener like bit.ly which also gives you useful realtime information about who’s clicking your Bitlink.

27. Forgo Automated Services

Do not use automated tweets to thank new followers when they follow you. You may do it with the best of intentions but an auto-DM (automatic direct message) is often viewed as spam. Never auto-DM a link to your website or service. 

Take Action: Always choose personal engagement in favor of being an automaton. It is genuine engagement which builds trust and credibility in your brand and cements strong, lasting relationships.

28. Brush Up On Twitter Etiquette

Twitter is a conversation, and just as you observe conversational etiquette in real life, when it comes to healthcare tweeting there are unwritten rules too.

Take Action: Brush up on Twitter etiquette with these tips.

29. Manage Your Twitter Relationships with Commun.it

Commun.it  analyses your followers on Twitter and segments them into lists which help you identify your high-value relationships. It also provides you with insights into who you should follow or unfollow.

Take Action: Learn how to use this tool.

30. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my LinkedIn profile accurate and up to date?
  • Do I need to change my headline?
  • Does my summary reflect what I want people to know about me?
  • Have I included all my skills and expertise? 
  • Am I happy with my current profile image? 

Take Action: Optimize your profile with relevant keywords so that you will show up in search results.  

31. Start Publishing Content On LinkedIN

LinkedIn wants to be more than just a repository for your resume. It wants to be a place for professionals to share insights through publishing content.  You now have a platform to share your expertise, raise your profile, and strengthen your healthcare brand. Posts you publish will appear as part of your professional profile on your news feed. These can become a catalyst for creating dialogue within your professional network. Your network will be able to comment, like, and share your posts within their networks.  LinkedIn members not in your immediate network can then follow, like, and share your influencer posts. And if enough people engage with your content, you could find it featured on other LinkedIn channels.

Take Action: Learn how to publish great content on LinkedIN with this guide

32. Add SlideShare To Your Social Media Marketing Mix

Of all the social platforms available to social media marketers, SlideShare is the most overlooked and underutilized. This can be an advantage to your marketing, as there’s much less competition it increases the opportunity to establish your brand as a thought leader.  

Take Action: Increase your visibiility with well-designed, eye-catching slides; add valuable content and use key words and phrases. 

33. Create A Google+ Game Plan 

The relevance of Google+ is often debated, but there’s no doubt it’s good for improving SEO, brand exposure and customer engagement especially through the use of communities and hangouts.  

Take Action: Read about Google’s jump into the world of telemedicine

34.  Create  YouTube Videos For Your Practice

Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth. YouTube videos increase brand visibility, drive social shares and increases engagement; add to this the fact that Google owns the video sharing site, and you can see how it makes sense to add it to your social media marketing mix.  The Mayo Clinic is a good example of how healthcare providers can leverage YouTube.

Tip YouTube is not the only video player in town. Facebook’s recent introduction of it’s own native player cannot be ignored in 2015.

Take Action: Make a video showcasing your facilities and highlighting the care patients receive with you. 

35. Add Your Social Media Profiles To All Your Communications

This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often it can be overlooked. Review your email signature, patient information brochures, flyers, etc. to ensure that your social media platforms are clearly visible.

Take Action: Add social media follow buttons to your website and email signature to make it easier for people to follow you. 

As you embark on a new year, use these 35 strategies as a guide to help make 2015 your best year of social media marketing.

Happy New Year!

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