4 Social Media Strategies to Build Patient Loyalty

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , March 8, 2012

4. Tie Social Media to Service Lines
Ideally you want to connect social media campaigns to something that you are trying to promote, says Falls. "That ties [the campaign] into the business purpose for doing it and makes it easier for the C-suite to understand that there is a goal here, that you can identify it and see if you are meeting it."

Kustra says that based on the success of Movember, the hospital is trying to come up with an event each month that relates to a healthcare topic. For example, for February, it is doing a "What Do You Heart?" contest—where people can submit a photo of what they love, such as spending time with family, reading a book, or a favorite activity.

At presstime, it had a good mix of community members and employees submitting photos, Kustra says, adding that within five minutes of posting the contest, it had three submissions.

Stebbins says the "Go Red for Women" event and Facebook contest were part of St. Peter's overall strategy to promote its cardiologists, cardiology clinic, and services. "We also created a Helena HeartBeat publication with health and wellness education featuring our providers and a personal health tracker," she says. St. Peter's will probably do about six contests during the year, all of which will align with its community events, Stebbins says. "Most of our future endeavors will be targeted at women ages 25 plus, those who make the healthcare decisions for their families," she adds.

Falls advises healthcare organizations that are new to social media or looking to improve their consumer engagement to pay attention to what other people are doing. "Don't be afraid of putting together a contest and not having it be all you'd hope it would be," he says. "The important thing is to be out there."

Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at cvaughan@healthleadersmedia.com.

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1 comments on "4 Social Media Strategies to Build Patient Loyalty"

Angela Keen (3/22/2012 at 12:35 AM)
I work at a hospital in Honolulu and have been involved with social media community since the early days. I now use social media to assist me in recruiting physicians. This article is spot on! Kudos to the writer who used great examples! When it comes to health care facilities and social media, it's important to have a Social Media "geek" specifically charged with this task. Too often, health care facilities set up their social media accounts as a broadcasting device. It's like the phone number where you "can't reach a real person". We all know patients loath getting caught up in the automated phone system. Think of Social Media and your health care facility or clinic the same way. You don't want an automated system. You want a real person to connect with patients. Many hospitals or health care facilities get interested in social media. They have someone set up accounts with pre scheduled tweets and broadcasts. It is like "set it and forget it". Then, there is no live person manning the accounts. This means there are no live interactions with patients or potential patients. If a health care facility or a clinic is going to have social media, it takes a dedicated social media manager who will engage, engage, engage. Complaints can get out of hand if you don't answer a tweet, Yelp!, Facebook, G+ message from a patient. However, helpful tips and engaging with social media savvy patients can garner more raves and positive feedback from patients that are broadcast to an infinite number of people and ultimately build loyalty.




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