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With social media, it’s OK for hospitals to have multiple personalities

December 24th, 2015

by Jenn Riggle

I laughed when I watched a video of a group of moms talking to each other the way they speak to their children. As adults, we vary our tone and language depending on whom we’re speaking to. We don’t talk to our boss the same way we speak to our children, and we talk to our family differently than we talk to our friends. The same holds true for hospitals when speaking to various audiences.

Hospitals serve a lot of important functions. They are employers, caregivers, thought leaders and educators. However, they shouldn’t use the same voice (or share the same information) when they speak to different audiences on social media.

One way to determine whether your organization is using to right voice to reach your audience is to look at your engagement statistics. Another is to view your social media channels through the eyes of your mother or your next-door neighbor. Here are some things to keep in mind:

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• Facebook is a great medium for reaching the general public, your patients and employees. Take a look at your organization’s Facebook page. Are your posts text-heavy and full of complicated medical stories? If you’re attaching images to your posts, are you using photos of new medical equipment and images of men and women in white coats?

Ask yourself: Is your hospital a brand people want to see in their news feed, along with photos of their friends’ children, travel pictures and cute animal videos? Take a look at how many people you reach with each post, as well as your engagement statistics (i.e. post clicks and likes). Experiment with posting articles about how to be healthier, and include photos of smiling employees at hospital events or working in the community, and see how this impacts your engagement.

• LinkedIn is ideal for reaching industry colleagues as well as current and prospective employees. It provides a great forum for sharing articles about clinical breakthroughs and new service-line offerings. However, consider varying your posts with health stories from mainstream media and photos that showcase your organization’s culture and why people love working there. Keep in mind that posting images results in a 98 percent higher comment rate, and photos help make your content look more engaging. Company page updates see an average engagement rate of .054 percent. Try modifying your content and see if you can get your engagement rate between .75 percent and 1 percent (which is really killing it, according to Dan McGraw’s article on LinkedIn advertising).

• Twitter is ideal for thought leadership and sharing headlines and interesting facts. However, it’s important to keep your tweets concise, informative and (if possible) playful. Keep in mind that Twitter has changed a lot since I started using it in December 2008. There are a lot more people using Twitter, ranging from reporters and bloggers, organizations and my 17-year-old daughter, who follow everything from breaking news to celebrities as well as watch animals balance objects on their heads. In addition, photos can now be attached to tweets, helping break up the endless stream of information. Try to keep your tweets short and sweet and attach photos to make them stand out. And rather than scheduling all of your posts, use TweetDeck or another engagement platform so you can read and retweet others and not look like a “bot.”

• Instagram is a visual storytelling platform that is popular with millennials. In fact, 73 percent of Instagramers are between the ages of 15 and 35. As a result, it’s a great way promote services geared to younger people, such as maternity, pediatrics and sports medicine. It’s also a great way to reach current employees and prospective employees, who may already be on Instagram.

While photos and images are important for all social channels, they are the message for Instagram. Post photos that show what makes your organization unique, including photos of employees in the community, events at your hospital, thought leaders, glamour shots of food, special visitors, etc. The key is that photos should be high resolution and represent your organization and its brand. In addition, carefully select a hashtag to make it easier for people to find your photos.

Make it a New Year’s resolution to breathe new life into your social media channels and humanize your brand. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and try to have fun.

Jenn Riggle is the senior director of public relations for Compass Professional Health Services.

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