Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it

The best practices for hospital social media – a wish list


wish listDon’t let anyone kid you. Doing social media for a hospital is a lot of work. Those books and articles that say it takes an hour a day, well, that’s just not true, at least in my opinion. Here’s a great post that talks about this concept.

In my role, I manage social media for a health system that includes five hospitals and a women’s medicine practice. It’s a job I absolutely love, but I won’t tell you it’s not a lot of work. I manage an editorial calendar for the year to give us an overall guide. The calendar incorporates all the strategic marketing priorities developed by the marketing officers for each partner hospital to support each individual brand. I also work with the media officers to regularly promote their pitches and news stories, and with the web team to be sure I’m posting each month’s web features as well. Of course I also work with the development team to promote fundraising events and activities.

In addition, I like to do some fun posts to keep it light (like “It’s National Ice Cream Day!”), and share timely health news and tips on a daily basis to support our overarching mission of improving the health of the communities we serve. Mixed in with all of that is, of course, responding to comments, interacting with others on social networks and trying to be part of the daily social conversation with friends, fans, influencers, reporters, media outlets, etc.

Through six Facebook, six Twitter, five Google+, three Pinterest pages and a YouTube channel, you can imagine the time that is spent managing and monitoring. It IS a full-time job. The disappointing part of that? There isn’t always time to focus on some things that would be really great to do in the social media world. I was recently asked to come up with a wish list of things that ideally we’d be doing if we had more resources (monetary and staff). Here’s part of my wish list.  These are the things I really want to be doing but simply don’t have time to do, or don’t do often enough. In my mind, they are the best practices, the “golden tickets” of social media for hospitals. I’d recommend adding these to your bag of tricks if you’re not already:

  • Develop and maintain a blog with two to three posts a week. Interview doctors and clinicians and write blog posts on hot and timely topics. Mix up your content and provide a variety of fun, interesting and helpful articles. Share them on the social networks too.  Some hospitals with great blogs include Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children’s and Boston Children’s Thrive.
  • Walk around the hospitals and take photos of patients (with consent of course), families, staff, clinics, cool things in the hospital, etc. to post. Think about the things that make your hospital unique, and showcase them. Photos are the posts that generate the most engagement on social networks.
  • Provide live coverage of some key marketing and development events, like ribbon cuttings, openings, fundraising events, press conferences. Use pictures and videos. You can tweet it live on Twitter as it’s happening, then post on Facebook and your Pinterest or Flickr pages, and include them in your e-newletters. Share them with your intranet and internet teams. There are so many uses for this type of coverage!
  • Create great videos to share through your networks. It could be a patientt, a fun event, a health tip from a clinician… and try to make it fun! (Think Pink Glove dance.) They don’t have to be professionally done – your iPhone will be just fine when it’s not an official marketing/advertising/branding video. Rule of thumb: the shorter the better because attention spans are short!
  • Look for great patient stories. These are priceless when it comes to marketing and advertising your hospital. What better way to showcase your expertise than through a success story told through a picture or video. This picture of one of our patients who got all dressed up for her last day of chemo was posted on one of our Facebook pages and was the most popular post since we started the page.

I guarantee that if you include this type of activity in your social media plan, you will see an increase in your engagement. What are the things that you have found to be the best for engagement?

This post was originally written for http://www.hospitalimpact.org, where an edited version appeared.  

Author: Nancy Jean

I love reading, writing, music, the beach, and being a mom to two rescue dogs. My job is social media for health care.

2 thoughts on “The best practices for hospital social media – a wish list

  1. Thank you for an outstanding post filled with great advice!

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