Does Leadership Have Your Back?
Moving your face-to-face support group online doesn't happen overnight. It takes a solid plan and patience while your community grows. Before you make the leap, here's a tip: Make sure your leadership is behind you 100%.
Here are some tips to make sure you have the leadership support you need.
Involve key stakeholders in your planning
Make sure you include your key decision makers from the beginning. Develop a specific plan with benefits, tasks, timelines, and costs. Although you can see good activity in the group in two or three months, it takes time to build an active, supportive group. Leadership should know you're in for the long haul.
Show how the group will create ROI for the organization
Every leader wants to know how adding services impacts the bottom line. What's the return on investment? This is the right question - but can be tough to answer.
Here's a way to address that: Explain that during the first 6-9 months you'll be building trust and loyalty with members of the group. Once they feel the emotional support they're looking for, you'll be able to suggest ways to increase their access to your services. When these invitations come from trusted sources they'll feel helpful, not salesy. This will result in more appointments - and revenue.
Include specific ideas for promoting other services in your original proposal.
Explain how the support group helps your patients
Many patients are going through unbelievably hard times as they navigate their health journeys. Finding a safe place where they can talk to those who have been through or are going through similar experiences relieves stress, provides comfort, and encourages them.
Studies show that patients who actively participate in online support groups have more positive attitudes, take better care of themselves, and have better outcomes.
A Facebook support group provides ongoing support, is easy to join and eliminates the travel, parking, and scheduling of a monthly face-to-face support group.
Be realistic about the investment
It costs nothing to set up a Facebook support group, but it will fail unless you have a good community manager or admin strategically launching and growing the community.
Best practice is to check on the group three times a day, seven days a week to monitor posts and encourage activity. To avoid burnout, at least two admins should share these duties. Plan on 30-45 minutes of staff time each day.
Confirm the support you need
When times get tough, leaders look for places to streamline and eliminate unnecessary expenses. Make sure you confirm the support you need for a long-term commitment to an effective online support group.
Hive Strategies provides expert advice for Facebook support groups to hospitals and clinics. Contact us for a free consultation.