Patient engagement has become a buzzword in the world of healthcare marketing, but what does it actually mean? And how can healthcare providers actually boost engagement with their patients online? Social media is the perfect avenue for engaging with your audience and getting them involved in the conversation. This post will help you create an effective social media strategy to boost engagement with your patients.
First, let’s talk about your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Social media KPIs are a set of quantitative or qualitative metrics that can be used to measure and evaluate the success of your social media strategy. They help you identify what’s working well, what isn’t, and where there is room for improvement.
The most important thing about KPIs is that they should be tailored to the goals and objectives of your practice. In other words, don’t just pick arbitrary numbers without understanding how they relate back to your overall strategy. For example, let’s say one of your marketing goals is “increase engagement.” Measuring page likes won’t give you much insight because it wouldn’t tell you whether those people actually engage with or share posts from your page. Instead, look at metrics such as shares per post or number of comments as measures of engagement. Perhaps your goal is to increase your audience. In this case, consider tracking your follower count or page likes to measure audience growth. If your goal is to drive traffic to your practice website, consider tracking clicks to measure the traffic generated from your social media posts.
Gr8 Tip: Want to learn more about KPIs for your website? Go read our blog post KPIs to Improve Your Practice’s Website Performance.
Optimal ways to use each social media platform.
Patient reviews on Google and other top healthcare review sites are a major contributor to your practice’s online reputation. How you respond to reviews can further help or harm your image. First and foremost, your responses to online reviews must comply with HIPAA.
Each platform has unique demographics. Depending on who your ideal patient is, the platform(s) you use most may differ. Earlier this year, we dedicated an entire post to identifying the differences between social media platforms, sharing tons of insight on each platform.
Twitter is best for real-time engagement and quick updates.
Facebook is best for engaging with your audience. It offers plenty of opportunities to interact with your community in an organic way, whether it’s through posts that encourage comments and reactions or by hosting live Q&A sessions.
Instagram is best for visual content. Patients love seeing highlights about their favorite providers and staff, as well as taking a peek behind the scenes.
LinkedIn is best for professional networking. With over 830 million users worldwide, LinkedIn gives physicians access not only to each other but also potential employees who may someday work at their own clinics. It’s vital that medical professionals keep their profiles updated regularly so they don’t miss out on any benefits this platform has to offer.
Your practice’s needs will determine which platform(s) are best for each task at hand. When it comes to social media marketing, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one platform. Using several different platforms helps your practice engage with your audience in more ways, and will allow you to connect with them in a way that feels natural for them.
If you’re posting about a new blog post on LinkedIn but fail to mention that same blog post in an Instagram story, then you could be missing out on valuable opportunities for engagement with some of your patients. Repurpose your content by posting it across platforms. It may seem like extra work at first—but if done well, it will pay off. This also connects back to why KPIs are important to track. For example, if you’re posting content on Twitter, but haven’t grown an audience there, you may decide you’d prefer to focus on Facebook if you’ve seen better engagement on that platform.
Gr8 Tip: Struggling to create social media content? Grab our social media templates package for free. Designed for medical practices and hospitals, the package includes a content calendar template and two cheatsheets featuring platform information and content ideas.
Create content that is useful and relevant to your patients.
When creating content for your social media channels, it’s important to keep the patient in mind and ensure the information is relevant to them. To do this, you need to make your content useful and easy to read.
Your content should be useful to the patients you serve. If a large percentage of your patients have been given a diagnosis of arthritis, don’t just post about how great exercise is for preventing osteoarthritis. Instead share tips about stretching exercises that can help lessen pain or improve mobility. You could even share exercises meant for specific joints so they’ll have access to more than just general advice on staying active!
Make content easy to read, easy to understand, or shareable (or all three). While it’s key to reach your followers, you’ll also want to reach people who don’t follow your account. When new audiences find and read your content on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, make them want to take action, like following your page to see future content.
Make it easy for patients to engage with you.
It should be easy for patients to find you. When patients are looking for a healthcare provider on social media, ensure your profile is easy to find and access. Having a social media presence is only half the battle; if patients don’t know where you are or how to connect with you, they won’t engage at all. This can be accomplished through ensuring your account name on social media matches your practice name as closely as possible. It’s also helpful to link to your social media pages on your website, typically in your header or footer, using the logos for each platform. It can also be helpful to have your social media handles shown on slides or handouts in the waiting room so as patients are waiting, they can be reminded to connect with you online as well. Consider a QR code patients can scan with their mobile devices to take them directly to your social media.
Make it easy for patients to engage with you. Once your patient has found your account, ensure there are clear instructions on how they should connect with you. This is where your call to action (CTA) comes into play. A CTA is an invitation to users to take a specific action. The idea behind CTAs is that if you tell people what you want them to do, they’ll be more likely to do it. Here are a few examples of CTAs you could use:
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Focus your social media strategy on engaging your patients.
Engage with your audience. The best content to post on social media is that which is interesting and engaging, but what makes it so? Provide answers to questions and information that is relevant to them. Useful information can include an update on a disease or treatment option, or even general facts about the various conditions you treat regularly as a provider.
Provide relevant information. As mentioned above, if you are posting about an important change in one of your procedures or policies regarding patient care at your clinic, make sure this change directly affects those who follow you on social media; otherwise it may come off as irrelevant or uninteresting.
Be consistent. You want your followers to come back and check in with you often, so it’s important to post regularly and keep your content fresh. If you’re not a regular poster, then you might be better off using an automated posting tool like Hootsuite or Later (both of which have free tiers).
Below is a short patient engagement checklist for your social media strategy, summing up everything we’ve discussed.
- Make sure you’re tracking your KPIs
- Use the right social media platform for the right audience
- Create content that is useful and relevant to your patients
- Engage with your audience
Social media is a powerful tool for healthcare organizations to communicate with their patients and to boost patient engagement. The key to success is finding the right mix of social channels and creating content that’s useful, interesting, and relevant to patients. Engaging your audience in different ways across different platforms will allow you to reach more people than ever before, while also building trust and loyalty from your followers.