Are you a hospital marketer, PR or communications professional?
Have you considered allowing patients to tweet on behalf of your hospital?
Patients are already talking about your hospital. Some of them are sharing positive sentiments and others are sharing stuff you’d rather not hear. In other words there’s no controlling what others say about your brand on social media platforms.
Which is why positive tweets from loyal and enthusiastic patients are gold.
Patient sentiment is highly effective in healthcare marketing. We’ve seen patient stories on YouTube and hospital blogs cut through the noise to relay a powerful, and relevant message. Of course such content is ultimately developed by healthcare marketers. But hearing it from other patients is far more interesting, and effective than hearing from the hospital CEO.
So why not leverage that positive sentiment from loyal and passionate patients and put it to work for your brand. Here are six ways to turn tweeting patients into promoters:
#1. Have a plan
As long as you’re using social media you should have a HIPAA-compliant social media policy that’s been reviewed and approved by your legal department. The policy should also include a section on crisis preparedness. Keep in mind that social media can be unpredictable and risky particularly when there are many users representing the brand. Therefore you should always be prepared in case something goes wrong. Here’s an infographic for developing a social media crisis plan.
If your hospital decides to use patient tweeters, be sure that your social media policy spells out exactly how this will work so that everyone knows how to avoid HIPAA violations.
#2. Agree on execution
Engagement risk is higher in healthcare than in other industries. If your hospital plans to include patient tweets as part of its social media strategy, remember that you will be held responsible for this content. As part of your execution strategy your legal department will be expected to carefully review proposed tweets and other social media content (both employee and user-generated) to ensure that messages are appropriate and no rules have been violated.
#3. Recruit happy patients
Hopefully you have happy patients who love your brand and are willing to spread the word or advocate on your behalf. Perhaps they shared their satisfaction and enthusiasm with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter and you were able to identify and even engage with them. Think of ways to leverage that positive sentiment. Create a plan for approaching, engaging and recruiting loyal patients to tweet and share content on your behalf.
#4. Empower them
The best user-generated-content (including patient tweets) is about the user not the hospital. When empowering patients to tweet for you, always seek to give them freedom of self-expression. Remember they are already loyal patients who are passionate about your brand, and are willing to advocate on your behalf. Resist the urge to over-edit their social content unless it crosses the line. Understand too that the most successful user-generated-content happens when patients feel excited, confident and empowered, not when they feel stifled or micro-managed.
#5. Train them
Anyone who creates social media content for your hospital should be trained for compliance with HIPAA and other hospital regulations. Training also provides a firm understanding of the hospital’s environment and corporate culture. When training patients, encourage them to use that knowledge to create friendly messages that attract other users like them, not messages that promote the hospital (that’s the social media manager’s job!). They will probably want to tweet about things they love about the hospital, which makes your job easy!
#6. Motivate them
When patients advocate for your brand by sharing positive experiences, remember that they too are putting their reputation on the line for your sake (yes, it works both ways). Obviously paying them is not a smart move because it lessens the power of advocacy (plus it’s not in your budget anyway!). Therefore creating a promoter out of a patient means motivating and rewarding them in other ways.
There are many ways to reward your patient promoters: Prepare special events exclusively for them; ask for their opinion and recommendations when creating other social content; give them special access to hospital leaders; give contributions to causes on their behalf; honor them with a weekly or monthly ’loyalty leader’ program, and so on. Your marketing team should be able to brainstorm other ways to motivate and keep your patient promoters pumped up.
Your Turn: Do you think it’s a crazy idea to let patients tweet on behalf of hospitals? Does it make you nervous? Please share your thoughts.