Providing generalized healthcare and Wellness information through social media fits how patients and the community use these tools. Wellness promotion helps a healthcare organization align its marketing efforts with its mission. Plus, most hospitals and hospital systems already have Wellness programs, such as patient education programs, flu and vaccination clinics, and health fairs and screenings.
But organizations also need to consider the correct delivery systems for the Wellness message. Traditional marketing mediums are disengaging: Direct mail can feel like clutter, and radio and TV commercials, classic forms of interruption marketing, are expensive and repetitive. Even websites can be disengaged if they’re hard to navigate, or the content is too static. Social media delivers Wellness content while engaging the audience.
Consider these techniques to enhance your Wellness marketing efforts through social media:
- Engage existing social media followers. Introduce Wellness communication to them first; many will be responsive. But remember, some followers won’t find relevance in a Wellness program. So Wellness should not overtake your regular social media messages.
- Once existing followers become part of the new Wellness social media community, continue using these networks to build community interest. Use interactive quizzes or polls to generate engagement. Invite them to share their experiences with your program or talk about their own wellness goals. Create pictures and video contests. Let the community take control by becoming your ambassadors.
- Social networks can strongly influence individual behavior. Use your Wellness sites to encourage interaction among participants that will support the community in staying healthy and well—a healthy peer pressure of sorts.
- Use your social media sites to ask your community for feedback about your program. Quick polls or simple questions will allow you to engage in realtime (and free) market research that will be invaluable in revealing needed changes.
MEASURING RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Beleive, measuring success by establishing social media–related goals and comparing performance to peers. While counting friends, fans, and followers is a good indication of reach, the actual return on investment (ROI) should always be tied directly to bottom-line impact.
For ROI, postings must include calls to a specific action that will lead to measurable conversions—for example, registrations for seminars or sign-ups for newsletters. Patient data to track the behavior. Using a CRM database lets organizations measure marketing activity, opt-ins and conversions, and ultimately patient utilization.
Once the data is there, the results must be analyzed. And because healthcare consumption is not straightforward, data and modes of measurement must be reviewed over time. For example, the lag time between enrollment in a healthcare lecture from your clinician and actual hospital admission for surgery can be lengthy—sometimes years. Careful measurement helps us set realistic expectations about the effectiveness of communication efforts.
SMART THINKING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA
What can we, as healthcare communicators, do to better our social media efforts?
Patients use social media to deal with the challenging, complicated realm of healthcare. They friend us on Facebook and subscribe to us on YouTube, expecting us to provide information that will help them before, during, and after sickness. If we’re going to succeed as social media communicators, we need to keep some principles in mind:
- Be helpful. Often patients turn to social media because they’re scared (and need social support) or confused (because the organization’s website is a mess and the hospital phone operators lack correct information).
- Allow patients to weigh in on care experiences. If they complain, listen, and address the concern quickly. Resist the temptation to play Big Brother; instead, intercede in a compassionate, helpful way.
- Refrain from broadcasting and traditional marketing. Share information that patients and caregivers will find useful. Don’t use confusing clinical speak.
- Go with your instincts. Social media sites grow and thrive organically. You’ll know when it’s working and when it’s not. And don’t be afraid to fail—social media is pretty forgiving. Your followers don’t expect perfection, and because the cost of entry to social media is low, the financial price of failure is small.