- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On September 25, 2015
- Social media
For a while, the mere presence of a hospital on social media was enough to stand out. Now, almost everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, and more and more hospitals are jumping on Instagram, Pinterest, even Periscope. You won’t get noticed if you’re doing the same things as everyone else.
Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Here are some creative ways hospitals and health systems are using social media these days that you can use as models at your own hospital.
1. Challenge Instagramers to eat healthily
Baptist Health South Florida sponsors Family Fit Fest, an initiative to help parents make healthy food choices for their families. Part of the program is a healthy food photo challenge, where the Baptist Health social team posts three healthy ingredients on Instagram and challenges followers to create a meal with them and share it with the #FamilyFitFest hashtag. Combined with themed events to promote the challenge, it’s a great way to engage followers on a regular basis and help them stay healthy at the same time.
2. Give Periscope tours, then post them on YouTube
Before Meerkat and Periscope came along, the only easy way to post instant video to Twitter was Vine, which limited uploads to six second loops—hardly a practical platform for hospitals. Live streaming apps give you the flexibility to broadcast as much as you want, and by putting them on YouTube afterwards, you can preserve your videos after they expire on the app. The Mayo Clinic recently attracted nearly 500 live viewers and 5,000 likes for a Periscope tour of its Historical Suite, and the video has hundreds more views on YouTube.
3. Make physicians available for online Q&As
People have always turned to friends and family members with medical concerns, but sometimes they need an expert opinion. Not all of them will make an appointment with one of your doctors, but you can keep them informed with live Q&A sessions on Twitter or any real-time platform. Social media leaders like Mayo are ahead of the game here, but even a community hospital can pull this off without stretching its budget. It’s great for ensuring that members of your community have the best information out there as well as indirectly promoting your hospital’s brand. If you can align these with trending topics for big awareness periods, it’s possible to reach large numbers of people in a short time.
4. Show patients what their caregivers are really like
People everywhere can meet their healthcare providers before they ever need to go to the hospital through the power of social media. UCLA Health is particularly adept at this, and it’s earned the system more than 10,000 followers on Instagram. The account seamlessly weaves photos of patients and staff members together, sharing success stories and giving doctors and nurses as well as other hospital employees who usually work behind the scenes voices to explain why they love working in medicine.
5. Bring your events to your followers
With Periscope, your followers don’t need to leave their living rooms to see exactly what your hospital’s doing as it’s happening. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center live streamed a triathlon in July and an Achilles tendon repair surgery the month before. During the latter, viewers had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers in real time. The medical center has plans to stream more surgeries, giving followers a unique glimpse inside the operating room without spending a day in medical school.
What’s in your hospital’s social media plan for 2016? Read what Ed Bennett, creator of the Mayo Clinic’s Health Care Social Media List, and other healthcare marketing leaders have to say in our free ebook 13 Imperatives for Hospital Marketers from 13 Top Experts.