Life during the COVID-19 crisis changed things for practices in every industry. And while many practices have gone back to work, things continue to need adjustment by healthcare organizations. Patients need practices now more than ever to communicate with them. We interviewed Blake Hadley of My Social Media, to get all of your social medial questions answered.
Why is social media during a crisis like this so important? I think I read a statistic from Italy that Facebook's usage went up 70% during this pandemic. Now is the best time to be developing a social media strategy. If you're home, you've got time to work on it. If you've returned to the office, you still should be working on it. And everyone is using it. Now, more than ever before, is the most important time to reach out to patients via social media. We have the chance to create intimate digital interactions that last. During a pandemic, we are asked to distance ourselves physically, but we are not distancing ourselves digitally. Our patients are spending so much time connecting with people through more alternative methods. This includes social media.
Are there tips for the way we should use social media to connect with patients? You bet there are!
Here are some of the top tips we suggest for content that should be posted during this pandemic.
- You don't need to be polished and professional looking. Just talk to your patients. Even a short video letting patients know that you are there for them is amazing. Patients don't care if your lighting is perfect or if your skin looks bad. All people want is authenticity. Let patients know that you miss them. Let them know you're thinking about them! It may take some practice to feel comfortable but just give it a go.
- Use the right wording and tone. Make sure you're not posting scary content. People are inundated with scary information right now. Instead, make sure you let them know that you're there to support them. Keep your posts short, simple, and easy to read. If you have more information you want to share, either break it up into shorter posts or include a link to a blog post that gives more information.
- Share what is going on with your practice. Do you have staff still working from home? Have them shoot a quick video saying hello. Share the puzzle you've been putting together with your wife and kids. Show the types of extra cleaning you've been doing or the fancy new tools you've got. You can do a "fashion show" of the new PPE you're wearing or a virtual "walk-through" of what changes patients can expect when they come in for a visit. This is especially great with young children.
- Be sure to let patients know about any changes to your availability. If you have made any changes to
your hours, communicate that through social media. Are you dedicating specific times or days to high-risk patients? Are you extending hours or shortening them? Share it! And if you need to close, make sure you are clear about how patients can contact you.
- Be personal and relatable. We love videos at My Social Practice. They are so personal. These can be live videos or a pre-filmed video. As I said before, these videos don't need to be fancy. That just need to be real. Has your team been meeting virtually? Grab a screenshot and share it. Are you feeling confused about your 3rd graders math assignment? Let your readers know! What to show off a hidden talent? Bust out that dusty recorder and wow everyone with your Yankee Doodle skills.
- Find ways to give back and share it. During a crisis like this, it is so important to highlight the good things happening in the world today. Encourage your readers to do the same. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. You might be able to do a drive to collect supplies for hospitals. You could
write fun letters to those isolated in nursing homes. Just find any way you can help. You can also share good news or inspiring stories from your community.
- Share healthcare advice. We work a lot with dentists, so if you are a dentist, for example, let patients know what to do to keep their teeth strong if they can't get in for an appointment. Give hygiene tips or let them know what to do if a bracket breaks on their braces. The same is true for all healthcare specialties. Let patients know what they need to do to stay healthy.
- Post relevant information as it pertains to COVID-19. You don't need to break down everything for them, but do share things that relate to your practice. For example, since experts predict there may be a second wave in the fall, now is a great time to get in for all of those well-visits. Make sure you convey that via social media.
What are the biggest misconceptions practices have about social media? That practices think social media is about getting new patients. While it does help get new patients, it is also an incredibly great way to reach out to strengthen relationships with your current patients. Social media also can have a great impact on your reputation within the community. It can also help build a strong team culture.
What things should I be tracking on social media. How do I know it's going well? Start by looking at impressions and reach. Don't just worry about the number of followers you have. Impressions and reach will show you how many times your posts have been seen and how far the reach is going. You can find all of those numbers directly on the social media site. Boosting content is a great way to do this. Even a small amount of $5 or $10 can make a big difference. There are lots of people SEEING your post who may never comment. Of course, it's very important to encourage interaction as well. Try to create content that is share worthy and prompts engagement as much as possible. This gets your message out there to as many people as possible.
Which social media platform should we focus on? This is a pretty straightforward answer. Facebook is still our top platform at the moment. Eventually, I believe Instagram will probably pass Facebook, but for now Facebook is a place you need to develop a presence.
What kind of content are people sharing on Instagram Stories? I'm glad you brought that up. The big part of Instagram that is really making waves is the stories section. Those stories are all about being real...being authentic. Just talk to the camera. Be silly. Stories are easy and fun ways to create content. It comes with a lot of options for putting stickers over an image or video. We always recommend that you start by creating all of your content in stories. You can download it and then use it anywhere. It takes five minutes or less and is very engaging.
We want to thank Blake Hadley from My Social Practice for sharing some of his insight with us. You can visit their website here: https://mysocialpractice.com/
For more information on creating an awesome social media plan, you can download our guide here.