Update: Hospitals and Social Media (Part 2)
October 8, 2015 by Vickie Anenberg
In the first part of this article we presented an overview of a new survey, “A Healthy Dose of Social Media, 2015 Checkup,” conducted for the Ohio Hospital Association. One of the most interesting statistics it contained was that of 83 hospitals that participated, 46 percent cited the time and staff needed as their single greatest challenge to effectively using social media channels, and the top ranked challenge overall.
Cross Country Staffing notes that as the importance of communicating via social media has increased exponentially in recent years, hospital executives and their communications departments need to create a comprehensive plan to both allocate resources for social media campaigns and closely scrutinize their results. Having a firm understanding of what is necessary in terms of human and financial resources to maintain a beneficial social media presence forms the foundation to produce value.
In the Ohio survey, respondents ranked sharing hospital news, and building local and community relationships as their top three social media priorities. The top three campaigns these facilities had implemented thus far in 2015 include:
- General health and awareness
- Brand marketing
- Community building
By taking these responses into consideration, other hospitals can begin planning by prioritizing their goals and identifying how many resources can be committed to achieve them. For example, the hospitals surveyed rated Facebook usage as their most valuable channel. This is a logical choice, because on Facebook they can post video and conduct interactive chats with consumers, but this channel needs frequent posts to maintain active “Likes.”
YouTube was ranked second. The site is a valuable tool for video sharing, can be used on an as-needed basis, but does not feature a chat option.
Ranked third was Twitter, which many social media analysts suggest is best used to create tips to improve health, and for posting notices about important events. It is not particularly effective for branding. Also, to maintain followers, hospitals will need to “Tweet” regularly, preferably more than once each day, which may be problematic for hospitals with limited resources.
Blogging and LinkedIn were ranked fourth and fifth respectively. Survey respondents found these two channels significantly more important than in a similar survey performed in 2012. Blogging does require subject matter experts to write “thought leadership” pieces or appear in videos, but is otherwise easy to support. Blogs need only to be posted two to three times each month. Likewise, LinkedIn, considered by many as the most business-oriented social media channel, enables hospitals to post a detailed profile, and update it only as necessary.
It is worth noting that Instagram has now overtaken Twitter in its number of active users. A subsidiary of Facebook, Instagram generally appeals to those age 35 and under, and requires regular daily messages, photos, graphics, etc., to ensure consumers remain interested.
Communicating through social media channels is a valuable tool, but to build a trusted brand with long-term community support calls for having the right healthcare professionals in the right jobs to assure the public that a facility consistently provides quality care and patient satisfaction. This requires the staffing expertise that has made Cross Country Staffing the partner hundreds of hospitals rely on to provide cost-effective workforce solutions. We invite you to talk with a Cross Country Staffing representative about how we can customize a solution for your facility that meets today’s challenges, and can forecast future staffing needs.