The Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media for Health Care

By Mario Medina

With the right health care social media marketing strategy for your health care business, you can build your credibility and reach the right customers. Add life and energy to your social media strategy by following these do’s and don’ts for health care providers — this way, you’ll keep those Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram feeds flowing with relevant and brand-affirming content.


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Cultivate Your Brand or Organization’s Personality

When someone walks into your office or practice, they immediately learn something about your personality. Your social media should do the same for them. Whether your personality is warm and informed, casual and welcoming or even a little bit playful, make it consistent in everything you do. Avoid sounding clinical and sterile, since this can quickly drive potential customers away. Instead, show them what your brand is all about and let them fall in love with you.

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Become a Trusted Voice

There’s a lot of noise and misinformation out there, so how do you rise above it? Customers are increasingly more empowered and are looking for good, solid information they can rely on. Once you’ve created your brand personality and established your voice, use that voice to give them the facts they’re looking for delivered in the way they want to hear it.

Be sure to back up your information with links to trustworthy sources like medical journals or published studies to show that you’ve done your homework — and to help them do theirs.

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Tell Compelling Stories

Now that your online followers are familiar with your brand, and they trust the information you’re providing, you can connect with them on a deeper and more meaningful level with the stories you tell. When you share the story of a patient or customer (keeping them anonymous, of course) who found the answers they’d been searching for, you aren’t just telling followers that you can help them — you’re showing them how you’ll do it.

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Plan Your Strategy in Advance

Once you know what you want to say, you need to decide when and where you’re going to say it. The best social media strategy is one that is consistent and reliable. Giving your followers a steady stream of content will keep them engaged, so plan your entire month of social media posts in advance. Then, use social media posting and scheduling tools to make sure you never miss a post. This allows you to do your day-to-day duties without having to spend time wondering what you’re going to post about that day.

Of course, you can always swap out scheduled posts for breaking news stories that would be relevant to your practice. For example, if you’re a family practitioner and there’s a particularly bad outbreak of flu in your area, it would be wise to use some of your posts to talk about the importance of things like vaccinations and self-care, and link to stories about the outbreak. As you plan what you want to say, decide which social media platforms your personas are using, and make those your priority.

These are all great practices, but there are some “don’ts” you should observe as well. For example…


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Make It All About You

Consumers are looking for information that will help them on their health journey, and that’s what they want to know first and foremost. Once they’ve found trust with your brand, they’ll be more likely to explore your services, but what they really want to know is how to resolve their own health questions or situations.

That isn’t to say you can’t ever talk about yourself, but it should be done in moderation. Did you just get voted Best Health Care Provider by your local paper? By all means, share that on social media! But posts about yourself should be the exception, not the rule.

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Ignore Questions and Comments

Monitoring social media plays a big role in how well it works for you. The interactive nature of social media has created a responsibility for businesses to respond to questions, comments and complaints in a timely fashion. What does “timely” mean? That depends on the platform.

HubSpot reports that 80% of customers expect companies to respond to social media comments within 24 hours, and 50% of customers say they would quit doing business with a company that doesn’t respond to a negative social media post. And, on Twitter, 64% of users expect to get a response to their comments within an hour.

Be sure you have the time or have someone on staff who can respond to comments, questions and concerns as they’re posted or at least at regular intervals.

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Violate HIPAA

Patient privacy concerns must always be observed, but sometimes they get violated — often by accident — on social media. A post that leaves out the name of a patient could still be considered a breach of privacy if too many identifying elements are included. (Follow this checklist to avoid violating HIPAA laws on social media.)

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Forget About Your Blog

Social media is great for delivering short, bite-size pieces of information, but think of those social posts as appetizers for the full meal, which is your blog. Use your blog to delve deeper into pertinent topics, and use social media posts to direct readers to it.

DO Make Social Media Part of Your Health Care Marketing Strategy

Creating and implementing a social media strategy as part of your overall health care marketing plan takes time and careful planning but is well worth the effort. When executed properly, it will help you target different personas and reach out across multiple channels. It allows you to talk to potential customers on their preferred digital turf — and on their terms. And then, when the time is right, it even allows you to turn followers into customers and patients.
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Mario Medina

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