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Four Ways to Use Social Media for Reputation Management for Hospitals

Did You Know: 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility?

Reputation is everything. In this day of the 24-hour news cycle and the unconstrained proliferation of social media, it is vitally important for organizations to both manage and optimize their online presence.

Consumers have access to the unlimited information on the internet and have grown increasingly comfortable taking on big business making brand control and online reputation management increasingly complex.

Hospitals are particularly susceptible to the ebbs and flows of public perception.

Here are four simple ways in which hospitals can manage their reputation through the use of social media.

1. Create Your Hospital Story with Brand with Social Media

Did You Know: 94% of prospective patients said reputation of facility is important in hospital selection?

Organizations go to great lengths to manage their reputation in the marketplace, the media and within the masses. For many hospitals, the average social media participation includes a very limited world of a few generic posts or tweets. A hospital is a community unlike any other. With the vast possibilities of outreach and engagement, hospitals can use social media to disseminate information with the benefit of having a built in expertise. If a hospital is having a health fair, installing new technology, or sharing published articles by health professional on staff, then these are good opportunities to share your hospital in a way that connects on a human level.

As well, there are many healthcare specific times, like national nurse’s day, Alzheimer’s day, and Breast Cancer month, that provide excellent opportunities for hospitals to profile staff, increase awareness, and engage people to share their own stories, pictures, and life.

2. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor Your Brand

Did You Know: Multiple studies confirm that consumers report using the Internet first (85% of the time) when they need a healthcare service or product, and printed Yellow Pages only 35% of the time?

Hospitals, like other organizations in the service industry, are especially vulnerable to negative posts on social media, in direct correlation with the level of care (or perceived care) the public feels they receive. It is important to note, for whatever reasons, consumers are far more likely to post on social media about a negative experience rather than a positive one. This is especially true for medical fields because people are already feeling vulnerable, unhealthy, and out of control. No one ever calls to congratulate you on a job well done right?

Constantly monitoring various social media outlets insures the organization is being presented and received in a positive manner. Capture as much information as you can and maximize your opportunities accordingly. Follow trends, shares, likes, hashtags, etc. Be ready and willing to “go with the flow” and change directions, as necessary.

Remember it takes ten positive posts to counterbalance one negative one. For whatever reasons, people tend to pay more attention to negativity. Always know what is out there with your brand on it and learn to respond accordingly. Respond directly to the unhappy consumer and offer immediate remediation. Do it publicly. Do it politely. Most importantly, do it sincerely. Not only will you make them happy, but it should garner positive online energy towards your organization.

Consumers, more than anything, want to feel like organizations are responsive to their needs. Monitoring social media outlets for disgruntled, unhappy consumers typing away disparagingly against your hospital can potentially nip the negativity in the bud.

3. Promotional Branding Opportunities

Did You Know: Some 85% of U.S. adults own a cell phone and, of those, 31% say they have used their phone to look for health or medical information online?
Everyone is on social media these days from 12-year old girl receiving her cast to the 85-year old grandmother recovering from a fall. Most have at least a Facebook® page.  A hospital has a better chance of reaching a wide variety of consumers through social media than any other form of media (i.e., radio, television, print, etc.). Hospitals need to find way unique and creative ways to both generate and channel positive vibes about their organization.

Promotional opportunities like a coloring page to occupy children or cup of coffee, for example, are great ways to engage your visitors with kindness of thought. Some other promotional suggestions may also include sponsored events in the community like a blood drive or highlighting outstanding individual employees, such as doctors, nurses and administrators. As well, many hospitals post new baby pictures (because parents want to easily share new a baby with their friends) or spotlight a day in the children’s ward to share special interest. It is the hospitals job to convince the consumers to come and experience superior care to other hospitals in the area.

Saturate as many social media outlets as possible, such as Facebook®, Twitter®, YouTube®, Yelp®, and Instagram®, with a wide variety of posts. Encourage interactive participation. See what works for the organization, in the community, with the clientele.

4. Hospitals Plan to Succeed

Did You Know: 31% of health care organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing?

In the medical profession, the brand of a hospital has to be the highest priority. For many hospitals, this is the number one reason they DO NOT participate in social media.  From nurses to patients, the thought of anyone posting about the hospital creates a wild-west scenario that gives the marketing person nightmares.

If a hospital does not participate in social media, this does not limit or remove the possibility of a bad review. Not participating only means that the positive will be missing from others and the hospital is NOT in control of their brand. People can and will post negative responses without the hospital’s participation – branded social media only allows the hospital to be in control of the process and counteract quickly.

Social media policies with emergency plans cover the hospital from both sides. A social media policy shows the staff that the brand is important and details what can/cannot be posted in connection with staff.

An emergency social media plan outlines any reaction to bad social media from negative reviews, unfortunate press, and localized disasters in the hospital community to avoid making a touchy situation much worse. The immediate reaction is to defend the hospital before “someone sees” it; however, an emergency plan for social media can salvage the reputation of the hospital in much the same way as an emergency room can save a life. Quick thinking mixed with a guided plan to proceed gives the hospital brand and reputation a chance to react without overreacting.

Let’s Get Going

As a part of the service industry, hospitals rely heavily on their reputation. If patients do not feel comfortable and confident with the level of service they receive, they will travel to another community for their healthcare needs. Too many healthcare organizations make the pitfall of thinking they are the only option for consumers.

Online reputation management is a burgeoning issue, but one which when handled proactively and professionally, can turn potentially negative situations into positive ones. Creative online branding of your organization has unlimited potential.

Contact HealthCare Marketing Group today at 800.258.0702 to schedule your free 30 minutes consultation.

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