Social media best practices for healthcare: Favor quality over quantity
Social media is a vital component for communication. In just a few short years, healthcare marketing professionals have gone from asking, “Why should we (or our clients) participate in social media?” to, “Why aren’t we participating in social media yet?!” As new tools emerge and strategies evolve, the desire to optimize an organization’s online presence via remains at the forefront.
Many consumer brands like Nike can rely on social media tools as a form of free (or relatively cheap) advertising, simply by accumulating as many followers as possible. Giveaways and other promotions are easy and inexpensive ways to build a brand’s following and keep consumers coming back for more. Healthcare solution providers and other business-to-business organizations need to take a slightly different approach. While building a following is a key component, it is equally important to demonstrate a solid blend of thought leadership, results and meaningful engagement.
When it comes to healthcare social media, organizations need to remain focused on quality over quantity –like Emdeon does – relative to their digital footprint.
Followers: Upon creating a new account, the primary goal of most brands is to gain as many followers as they can, as fast as they can. But the audience for healthcare social media may be smaller than consumer-facing organizations in other industries—so ensuring that your following is targeted appropriately is crucial. A list of 500 followers consisting of a high percentage of prospects, industry influencers, trade media and existing clients is more useful than a list of 5,000 followers consisting of a high percentage of users who have no interest in or need for your products or services. A highly qualified group of followers also leads to…
Meaningful Engagement: One of the most touted benefits of social media is the ability for individuals or brands to create direct, unfiltered lines of communication with their audience. Healthcare PR firms, however, will advise you not to over-saturate your timeline with every bit of information you come up with. Ensure your content is useful to your followers, and invite them to participate in the conversation. Direct them to relevant news items, and engage them on topics that they bring up. Creating and participating in meaningful conversation via social media will ultimately grow your following in an organic way, attracting a larger number of quality followers.
Useful, Consistent Content: The previous section touched on this briefly, but useful content should be the driver of all healthcare social media efforts. Whether you post 15 times a day or three times a week, your content should be relevant to your followers. Quality posts include industry news, thoughtful opinions and meaningful dialogue. It’s okay to provide news updates for your organization, but do so only when it makes sense. A timeline made up of only promotional material will not achieve your desired level of success.
Additionally, once you have established a certain frequency of posting, it’s important to remain consistent. If you send one excellent update per day, your followers will begin to expect it, and maybe even look forward to it. Likewise, if you post once every 20 minutes, your followers will expect you to keep up that pace. However, sending a large amount of updates in a short period of time followed by a long dry spell will make it difficult for you to gain much traction.