- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On November 13, 2015
- Social media
Instagram surpassed 400 million users in September, but very few hospitals are using it effectively. Part of that may be due to social overload; most hospitals focus their efforts on Facebook and Twitter because they don’t have the time or resources to handle all the social networks vying for their attention.
But as Twitter changes its service in an attempt to reinvigorate growth that’s largely plateaued, Instagram’s success shouldn’t be ignored. It grew from 300 million users to 400 million in only nine months, and that 400 million-user mark is 25 percent higher than Twitter’s 320 million—meaning that more of your patients (and prospective patients) could be on Instagram.
Between the steady user growth and all the evidence that consumers respond to visual content online, there’s a compelling argument for increasing your activity on Instagram. A small number of hospitals are already doing this—here are six that are engaging their followers with thoughtful, relevant content.
Keeping up with patients
New York-Presbyterian Hospital has more than 5,000 Instagram followers thanks to its patient-centered approach. The account does a great job keeping up former patients, whether it’s sharing a photo of a pediatric heart transplant reunion or following a former patients running her first marathon just three months after the hospital removed a tumor from her hip. Such success stories not only show followers what the hospital can do but also give patients incentive to interact with it after they leave.
Beaumont Health: Connecting followers with therapy dogs
Therapy dogs play very important roles in hospitals these days, especially with children and patients who are admitted long-term. But dogs are popular online, too—and Beaumont shares plenty of pictures of pooches to keep its followers engaged. The account isn’t all dogs, of course, but those pictures provide a pleasant change of pace from the other healthcare account it shares.
Boston Children’s Hospital: Embracing history
#TBT, or Throwback Thursday, is one of the most popular hashtags no matter what social network you’re using. Boston Children’s uses #tbt to give followers weekly glimpses into its history, like a photo of children receiving physical therapy for polio with a caption explaining how a Boston Children’s doctor won the Nobel Prize for first culturing the virus so that a vaccine could be produced.
In honor of National #physicaltherapymonth here is a #TBT of patients receiving physical therapy for polio ca. 1960! Paralytic Polio was once the most feared childhood disease, with an average of over 35,000 cases reported per year. In 1954, #BostonChildrens biomedical scientist Dr. John Franklin Enders won the Nobel Prize for being the first to culture the polio virus, which led to the production of the polio vaccine.
Houston Methodist: Recognizing exceptional service
Patient testimonials can be powerful factors when people are choosing physicians or hospitals.Houston Methodist’s “We Noticed You” campaign highlights members of its staff who have been singled out for providing patients with exceptional service. Everyone from doctors and nurses to receptionists and public safety representatives are recognized, honoring their hard work and giving everyone who works for the hospital incentive to give everything for every patient.
A photo posted by Houston Methodist (@houstonmethodist) on
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: Getting everyone involved
With more than 40,000 followers, Children’s Hospital LA has the biggest Instagram reach of anyone on this list. They engage all those followers with a well-executed combination of patient stories, sharp graphics, visually pleasing photography (including more therapy dog photos), and, being in LA, a healthy dose of celebrity guest appearances that keep patients and followers alike excited and engaged.
#ChrisPratt has “like, 11 movies to shoot by next Friday,” but we think his most unforgettable role was with adorable #CHLA patient Dylan, who should have received a @PeoplesChoice Award for Favorite Non-scripted Supporting Actor, don’t you think? #TBT @prattprattpratt See the video by clicking the link in our profile.
UCLA Health: Sharing human stories
In the end, patients are people who like to remember that their doctors and nurses are people, too.UCLA Health shows this side of its staff with photos and lengthy captions reminiscent of Humans of New York with a healthcare twist. Patients are also highlighted, allowing them to share their experiences at the hospital and giving followers a real glimpse of what happens there every single day.
“My father was having a hard time coming to terms with [having kidney failure],” says Julie Ngo, who brought her father to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after visiting several other hospitals. “We saw (nephrologist) Dr. Anjay Rastogi and his peritoneal dialysis nurse Joe, and instantly they had a plan. It was music to our ears, really reassuring. Eventually, my father started peritoneal dialysis, and he was just well taken care of for the past three years. Things took a tragic turn when my father fell and hit his head. He was transferred to a long-term nursing home, and Dr. Rastogi still tries to see him. I think it speaks volumes for what he does for his patients and their families. He’s just a tremendous person.”
A photo posted by UCLA Health (@uclahealth) on
Read more about how you can engage patients on social media and other hospital marketing trends in our free ebook, 13 Imperatives for Hospital Marketers from 13 Top Experts.