- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 22, 2015
- Industry changes, Social media
If you’ve been keeping up with the social media news scene, you’ve probably noticed a flurry of updates from Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks. If you haven’t been able to find the time to read up on all of them, don’t worry—each one signals good things for your social presence.
Facebook and Twitter didn’t become the biggest names in the game by sitting around, but by listening to their users in order to deliver the best user experience around. Hospital marketers can learn a lot from these changes as they seek to strengthen their brands, outperform their competitors, and attract prospective patients on social media because each one reflects what users really want to see when they go online or open up an app.
Some of the updates are more important to understand than others, so we’ll go through them one at a time. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Balanced news feeds
Facebook’s refreshed news feed algorithm, announced yesterday, seeks to balance content from friends and pages. That probably sounds scary, but if you’re already following Facebook’s page best practices, you won’t have as much to worry about. The actual effect will vary based on your audience and activity, so keep a close eye on your reach and consider adjustments if you do notice an impact.
There are three parts to the actual update:
- The first part affects people who don’t have a lot of content in their news feed. Before, Facebook prevented multiple updates from the same friend or page from appearing consecutively. Now, that limitation is gone, opening the possibility of users seeing more content from pages they’re interested in.
- The second part affects people with the opposite problem—that is, too much content in their news feed, making it hard to find posts from friends and pages they care about. It tailors the content at the top of the news feed to feature the people or brands each user interacts with the most.
- The third part should affect most users equally and could also have the biggest impact for brand pages. Previously, Facebook would tell users when their friends liked or commented on a post, but they removed this feature as a result of negative feedback. If these posts appear in news feeds at all, they’ll be lower down now.
Expanded direct messaging options
For as long as direct messages have been a part of Twitter, you’ve only been able to message other users who followed you. That changed Monday, when Twitter unveiled the ability to receive direct messages from anyone.
It’s important to emphasize that this change is totally optional, something that wasn’t clear enough in the announcement on the official Twitter blog. Should you choose to enable the feature for your hospital’s Twitter account, you’ll be providing another avenue for patients to provide feedback for your hospital’s services. And even if you don’t enable it, you’ll now be able to reply to any direct messages you receive, whether the sender follows you or not.
Unfortunately, enabling this feature could also open up another source for Twitter spam, though most bots will probably focus their efforts on mentions, which reach all unprotected accounts, as well as favorites and follows, both of which reach all accounts. Time will tell if this actually turns into a problem or not.
Retweets with comments
If you’ve spent much time on Twitter, you’ve almost certainly seen the acronyms MT and LRT. MT, short for modified tweet, is used in place of RT when someone wants to retweet something with a comment but the original tweet was too long. LRT, or last retweet, is usually used as a hashtag accompanying a comment in a separate tweet. This change from Twitter eliminates the need for both, allowing you to retweet with a comment—that is, write your own tweet with the tweet you’re sharing embedded directly beneath it.
The resulting tweet may look familiar; you’ve been able to achieve the same effect by pasting the link to a tweet for a while now. This change just makes the feature easier and more intuitive—and frees up the characters that would have been taken up by the link. The latter is the biggest key for anyone posting content to Twitter, because you don’t have to worry as much about leaving space for manual retweets anymore.
Live video with Periscope
Video is all the rage in content marketing today because it’s so popular on mobile. Live video streaming came to Twitter in March with the release of Meerkat, and Twitter quickly followed suit with its own official video streaming app, Periscope. Periscope has exploded in popularity in a very short time and opens up a whole new world of possibilities for using video to market your hospital. It’s currently available only on iOS, but an Android version is on the way.
Safer policy changes
This one won’t change the way your hospital operates on Twitter, but it’s significant because a safer online community benefits everyone who’s a part of it. Revised language in the platform’s usage policies enables Twitter to act on inappropriate behavior and harassment. It just may be the change some people need to see before signing up for an account.
Refreshed home page
If you’ve gone to Twitter’s home page without being logged in lately, you’ve probably noticed a look that’s quite different from the one you’re used to:
The new homepage is Twitter’s first attempt at creating a useful user experience for people who visit the site but don’t sign in or create an account, in turn growing the number of active users. Even if there isn’t a way to get featured on the homepage (for now), more active Twitter users would mean more people who could potentially read your content and discover your hospital.
A lot has changed in a short time for the social giants, but that’s not a bad thing. By keeping on top of these updates, you’ll be better equipped to take full advantage of the platforms available to your hospital and reach the greatest number of people possible.