You can see the prompts “Follow us on Twitter!” “Friend us on Facebook!” and “Visit our YouTube Channel!” just about everywhere these days. They’re on commercials, in newspaper and magazine ads, and they’re on websites, brochures, you name it. So think about this: when was the last time you visited a business or organization’s Facebook/Twitter/YouTube page simply because you saw the small icons in those places?
If you’re like me, you haven’t.
It’s now so common for just about every business or organization, including hospitals, to have a Twitter, Facebook or YouTube account that simply showing the icon isn’t enough.
Think about it like this: we don’t opt into an e-newsletter, store credit card or sweepstakes without a statement of why it would benefit us, and a social media account should be no different.
Of course I’m not talking about offering your patients a discount on services, but what I am talking about is providing your patients with a benefit of some kind, should they choose to follow you or friend you, and making sure that benefit accompanies your social media icons.
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles is a great example of how to effectively promote social media accounts. On their website they have a section titled “Get Social With Us.” It’s a section you can find on the home page of their website, and provides a description of what patients can use their social media accounts for.
For example, the hospital uses their Twitter handle @childrensla to provide information about where they will be in the community providing important health information; their Facebook page to encourage patients to show their appreciation by posting photos and comments about the services their families have received at the hospital; and their YouTube channel is used to show videos about their local and international work while giving families a chance to share their own videos.
All of these uses are an important piece of CHLA’s mission to reach out to patients because they provide information that can’t be found anywhere else.
Now imagine if they had these great features but never told their patients about them? They wouldn’t be nearly as effective. But because they have a defined purpose for each of their social media accounts, patients will know the benefit before they even visit those pages.
Social media is a great way to share information with your patients. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate, it just has to be something patients can use and will appreciate.
Make sure you are telling your patients why it’s smart to follow or friend you, and watch your audience grow.