Last month, we reviewed five social media mistakes that practices make when marketing online. Today, we take a closer look at the key social media best practices you can use to engage with patients on your social channels through the rest of 2020, whether you’re trying out a new social network, or revising your social media strategy.
Every social media channel is different, with its own guidelines, content types, and pitfalls that your or your practice team will need to manage. It can be overwhelming, so we have condensed the most important social media practices into one easy-to-skim guidelines below.
1) Post to the social media channels that are best for your brand, specialty, and patients.
There’s no need to use every popular social network to reach your patients. Instead, choose those that warrant your attention and time, so you don’t spread yourself or your staff too thin.
The best approach is to pick the social media channels that are used most now by your patients and the prospects you’d like to attract (you can ask them). It may also be useful to take a look at the channels your competitors use. If you see active and engaged patients on these channels, that’s a strong indicator the channels can help drive traffic to your website or generate patient leads, too.
Refer to user demographic statistics for any social media channel you plan to use, and tailor your approach to content as needed, with the awareness that the social space is constantly changing. For instance, content that performs well on Instagram doesn’t always work well on Facebook or Twitter. Choose the channels and content that will have the most positive impact when communicating with your new and existing patients, and pass on the rest.
2) Establish and keep a regular publishing schedule.
It’s okay to start slow. Once you’ve selected the social channels you’ll use or adopt now, develop a plan for each one. Your practice publishing plan should include:
- Your posting frequency and timelines, detailed on a calendar
- The type of content (and themes) you plan to share most often with followers
- Goals for each channel (push patients to take action, increase interaction with patients, drive patient leads, or a combination)
Ideally, plan your social content at least two weeks in advance, with room for flexibility if you need to react to local, practice, or industry news and updates.
To create quality content that is most likely to engage people, use short, compelling language, and feature photos or graphics. You can also ask questions to get conversations rolling, or gather answers about what your patients want most from their healthcare experience.
It’s always a good idea to stick to your practice brand and topics when posting content, too. Avoid anything that could jeopardize your business or take your practice off-subject.
3) Monitor your social media feeds daily and respond to those who engage with your posts.
Think of each interaction on your social media channel as a potential lead for your practice.
Responding to comments and answer questions directly — this is especially important on social now, as your patients navigate their health during the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to new work/life routines and realities.
Ignoring comments and questions can create dissatisfied patients, and your lack of engagement can leave a negative impression on prospects. To mitigate this, monitor your social media accounts daily. Automate this task if possible with a monitoring tool that alerts you to any mention of your practice and providers, so you can respond quickly.
Then, respond to any complaints or other major issues with a brief note online, then follow up directly with the patient (via direct message, email, or phone) to keep compliance and confidentiality in place. If a person engages you in a topical conversation, feel free to continue it publicly along the social media channel, and reach out to them directly through direct or private message, if you choose.
In general, communicate with your followers, reply to their comments, and reshare relevant (reputable) articles from your industry, partners, and patients.
This year has been complex and challenging for providers and patients alike, so use social media to keep the lines of communication open, and extend your patient acquisition strategy.