5 Benefits of Using Social Media for Healthcare Practices
No matter what industry you’re in, social media is an important tool for any business to use to communicate and build relationships with their customers.
These days, it’s important that healthcare professionals have an active online presence.
Millions of people are searching for information about health conditions, often before they even contact their doctor to ask questions or book an appointment.
We all know the running joke about people searching their symptoms on WebMD and assuming the absolute worst about their health, yet it’s true!
But, this is where social media comes in handy. If your patients or clients have access to you through social channels, it could provide them with solid, factual health information. Social media provides a more accessible way to reach out to your current and potential clients.
You can create informative and interesting content on your social media platforms as a form of healthcare marketing, while also being open to answering quick questions from your followers. But it’s also important to know how to properly navigate social media as a healthcare professional.
Are you looking for other ways to communicate with your clients? Join us as we explore the benefits and challenges of social media in healthcare.
Benefit #1: Answer health-related FAQs.
Since people are searching for health information online, social media gives healthcare organizations the opportunity to answer the industry’s most commonly asked questions.
For example, if you’re an optometrist and one of your followers on Twitter tweets you to ask “How do I know if I’m getting cataracts?”, you can tweet them with some symptoms they may be experiencing if they are, in fact, getting cataracts.
However, this is where one of the challenges comes in. Your followers must know that you cannot diagnose them over the internet without face to face contact. They would need to receive a comprehensive eye exam. So, when you answer such questions from your followers, be sure to inform them it’s best to book an appointment and come to your office so you can properly analyze their symptoms.
Benefit #2: Provide general health awareness and medical information.
As a healthcare professional, it’s likely that one of your main goals is to raise awareness about health topics in your industry. This can include things like preventative measures and lifestyle choices patients can make to reduce their risk of developing health problems.
For instance, if you own a chiropractic practice, your office could create an infographic, video, or blog post about the dangers of injuring your back while doing work around the house. When your patients are tackling that hefty to-do list, such as mowing the lawn or cleaning out the garage, you could provide them with tips on how to avoid hurting their back.
You are helping to give them fact-based information that they can utilize to make better choices and stay in good health.
Benefit #3: Stay up-to-date on local crisis situations.
Most people no longer get their news by reading the morning paper or tuning into the nightly news. People of every generation, especially millennials, are using social media as a way to consume news.
According to HubSpot, 68% of Americans get their news from social media. With the 24-hour news cycle, it’s a quick and easy way to stay updated on current events in real-time, including health concerns.
If you’re a veterinarian and there’s a rabies outbreak in your local area, people may be posting about it on Facebook or Twitter. You can even check hashtags to find out more information. When you find out about a health crisis that is occurring, you can use social media to teach your patients and clients how to stay safe.
In this example, you can use social media to inform your clients about how to protect their pets from contracting rabies and encourage them to bring their animals into your office if they are displaying possible signs of the virus.
This is a way to show your clients that you are aware of outbreaks that are plaguing the community and that you and your staff are ready to assist them with whatever they need.
Benefit #4: Use cost-effective marketing.
All you need to sign up for any social media platform is an email and a password. It’s highly accessible to most people across the globe and the best part is… it’s free! You can run ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you’d like, but if you choose not to, you can advertise your products and services with a simple post.
Is your chiropractic office having a 30% off adjustments sale? You can create a graphic and post that on each of your profiles as a way to advertise to current and potential patients.
You can also build your profile up to reflect your brand and create recognition within your community.
Benefit #5: Increase your online visibility.
The main objective of social media is to connect with people, whether they’re in your backyard or halfway across the world. You want people to be familiar with you and your brand and know that you are a trustworthy source of reliable information.
There are a few things that you can do to increase your reach on social media:
- Engage with your followers as much as possible – If they tag you in a post, mention you in a comment, or otherwise talk about your practice, respond to them. Let them know you see and hear what they have to say and are there to offer help in any way you can.
- Monitor your online reputation – When someone has a bad experience at your practice, they may go on social media to express their feelings and vent about their visit. Use this is your opportunity to resolve any conflict they have. You can tell them to call or email your office in order to fix the issues. This lets your clients, and others who view the exchange, know you value your clients’ opinions and want them to have an appointment with no mishaps every time they visit you.
- Look for your name in relevant conversations – Use the search bar on social platforms to look up conversations where your brand name, products, hashtags, slogans, or anything else that identifies your business are being used. You can reach out to the people mentioning you and start a conversation with them. Any time you have the chance to talk to one of your current or prospective clients, take it!
Challenges of social media in healthcare.
You want your clients and patients to know they can communicate with you through social media, but there are boundaries you should NEVER cross. Although social platforms can be a fun and informal way to communicate with others, you must remember that you are still a business and there are certain standards you have to maintain.
As a practitioner, avoiding the violation of any HIPAA guidelines is something you or whoever runs your social accounts should always take into account. To avoid violating these laws, your entire staff should:
- Not specifically speak of any medical condition your patients have on social media
- Not talk about any confidential information involving patient information
- Speak generally about medical conditions and treatments
Constructing a social media strategy and guidelines for how to run all your accounts would be a useful tool for you and your staff. Everyone will be aware of what you’re posting and if it follows the rules and regulations of your business.
Most of your patients are active on social and that means you should be too. Remain compliant, educate them with relevant information, and most importantly, make connections. You see your patients often and you want to build relationships with them so they can be one of your loyal clients for years to come.