If you think it’s difficult to keep up with the myriad of communication channels out there, you’re not alone. That’s one of the many reasons healthcare practices call upon PatientPop: The effort to keep up medical marketing, patient communication, and online content is too much for one practice to take on.
For independent practices, the old adage is true. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day — especially when you’re focused on patient care and would still like to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Social media holds a key position at the crossroads of patient communication and practice promotion. Facebook has traditionally been an online community centerpiece for healthcare practices. But providers also use Instagram, Twitter (and recently, even TikTok) to share stories, talk about their services, and promote their personal brands.
Whether you’re a DIY social media maven or you have social media services keeping the content engine running, you want to avoid some of the more common — and potentially damaging — social media mistakes.
We’ve created this short list of mishaps to keep in mind as you create your next post. Stay social and stay smart.
Social media mistake #1: Not planning your content in advance.
You may think an editorial schedule is a necessity only for a news agency, but it has far-reaching benefits for your social media efforts.
By plotting out your social media posts in advance, and even preparing them with tools like Hootsuite, you’ll save time in your day-to-day communications. Block out the time you need to plan for two to four weeks of posts, and enter them in a working calendar, or list them by date. Note any photos, videos, or links that you plan to include in each post as well. There’s your editorial schedule.
Without a social media editorial schedule, you’re left scrambling for content at the last minute. In that case, you have a much greater chance for something ineffective or incorrect (don’t forget to proofread). Of course, it’s easy enough to just skip it for the day or week, ignore your usual posting schedule, and get back to it when you can.
That’s not recommended, and it leads to our second social media mistake.
Social media mistake #2: Not having a regular publishing cadence.
Here’s the trick about publishing content online: Once you start, don’t stop. There’s power in consistency and regularity. It’s important to determine the publishing rhythm that works best for you and your practice, and then stick with it.
If you post regularly to your Facebook business account, try for a minimum of three posts a week. Twitter contributors are more frequent publishers, usually sharing information on a daily basis.
Find the channels that best fit your brand and your audience of current and prospective patients. Then, identify how often you’ll post to those particular channels. Get the wheel rolling, and keep it moving.
Also, considering the speed of change in healthcare today, especially on the local level, be flexible when conditions demand. If you publish an extra post that includes key information (from changes in office hours to local testing sites), you’ll provide a valued service to your community.
Otherwise, keep that regular schedule. When you show up on social media feeds intermittently, you give the impression that you’re not well-organized or don’t have great value to add to the online conversation.
Social media mistake #3: Picking the wrong social media channels.
If you run a popular aesthetics practice and are active on social media, your primary outlet should be Instagram. If it’s not, you may be doing this wrong.
Because aesthetics practices engage and interest patients with photos related to their services — before-and-after portfolios, for instance — the image-centric nature of Instagram is tailor-made for good promotion.
There’s nothing preventing you from sharing those photos on Facebook, but it’s always best to align your efforts with the social media channel that best fits the bill.
If you’re an internist whose goal is to share medical news and updates, and promote best healthcare tips, Twitter is probably a better outlet. Single topics are chock full of content (just check out #healthyliving, for example) and you can participate in smaller conversations with other contributors.
Choose the social media channel (or channels) that are best for your specialty and goals. Then, keep posting and publishing.
Social media mistake #4: Going off-brand with your messaging.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, your practice name is a brand. Every time you treat a patient, talk to another provider, or publish a blog post, you represent that brand.
One of the biggest mistakes any professional can make on social media is to say or share something that would be considered wildly “off-brand” or even offensive. This can happen when someone shares a personal opinion (political or cultural) that could offend others or shares something inappropriate. Just one post, one tweet, or one story could damage a strong reputation and cause issues with both current and potential patients.
This is yet another reason to set up an editorial schedule. When you plan carefully and follow through on that plan, you won’t find yourself posting spontaneously and regretting it later. Remember that as a local, trusted healthcare provider, you ARE your business.
Social media mistake #5: Biting off more than you can chew.
Let’s say you’ve decided to up your social media game. You’ve chosen content topics, have assembled a rough editorial schedule, and want to publish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.
Hang on a second.
That’s a lot. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to develop and maintain regular content for that multitude of channels. More important, it’s not necessary to publish everywhere to engage the right patients, peers and maybe even media.
Keep your efforts focused on channels that can yield the most exposure and initiate the most valued interactions. If you take on more than your time and stamina will allow, you’ll only end up stumbling over a few of the other mistakes on this list.
Let’s quickly summarize with a list of very basic actions for your social media strategy.
- Post to the social media channels that are best for your brand, practice, and patients.
- Don’t overdo it. Select the channel(s) that will have the most positive effect, and pass on the others.
- Establish and keep a regular publishing schedule.
- Create an editorial schedule to plan your content in advance.
- Post high-quality content that’s likely to engage an audience. Use short, compelling language, feature a photo (or two), and try asking a question.
- Stick to your brand and your topics. Avoid material that could jeopardize your business.
- Check your social media feeds every day and be sure to interact with people who’ve engaged with your posts.
Most of all, use your channels to help share healthcare information and squash rumors and misinformation. During times of uncertainty and confusion, your social media outreach is more valuable than ever.