Why Social Media Matters in Healthcare
Social media has become an important form of communication in our everyday lives. Often, it is thought that social media or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used mainly by teenagers, but the percentage of adults who use social networking sites has steadily risen. According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2014, about 82 percent of adults ages 30-49; 65 percent of adults ages 50-64, and 49 percent of adults ages 65+ regularly use social networking sites.
Accordingly, many businesses and organizations are utilizing social media to connect and engage with their customers, clients and colleagues who increasingly expect entities to have these types of online sites. In fact, in a relating study, about 41 percent of consumers stated social media would affect their choices of specific doctors, hospitals or medical facilities. 1
Since May 2014, the hospital has had formal and active social media presences on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn with increasing success. For example, from May to July alone, our total reach (people who viewed our posts, mentioned us or checked-in at the hospital) was 97,051. In just three months, we “touched” the lives of many people who proactively engaged with our hospital online.
All kinds of social media conversations were occurring about the hospital prior to the formal establishment of our sites. Now, by managing our own social media pages, we can elevate our participation in those conversations to build and /retain relationships by providing useful information. Equally important, it can be a very useful service recovery tool that allows us to not only “listen” and learn about various issues, concerns or perceptions of the hospital among various stakeholders but to also address them—all without our jeopardizing patients’ privacy or other guidelines.
Social media is advancing as a business standard with an ever increasing number of healthcare organizations recognizing that it provides a great opportunity to further their mission and vision. Also, an industry best practice that we’ve incorporated into our social media approach is the posting and sharing of content to promote the hospital’s comprehensive and high-quality services, accomplishments and events as well as sharing healthy recipes, motivational fitness/exercise quotes, medical tips (i.e., when to get your flu shot, how Ebola spreads, etc.) and the like. Our goal is to be a reliable health and wellness resource for people in our community to encourage healthy living, disease prevention and hospital preference. Now, our passion for caring is being experienced by people online.
1. Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group.