The Growth Channel

Set your social media strategy apart with 3 best practices

by Sarah Izzo

You're likely among the 94% of U.S. hospitals that have a Facebook account. Your organization may even use additional social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube—but are your strategies attracting patients, scaling word-of-mouth marketing, and maximizing on the right engagement moments? 

If not, you might want to learn a thing or two from Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), a not-for-profit health system headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland.

Read on to explore AAMC's social media engagement strategy and to learn our three expert insights to help you apply these teachings at your organization.

1. Use patient-friendly articles to convert searchers into customers

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, about 72% of internet users look online for medical information. To cater to symptom searchers, AAMC writes about health topics that patients see as valuable and applicable to them. For example, rather than post about behavioral health services, AAMC posts about stress prevention, which feels like a more accessible topic to many patients.

AAMC's educational content also links clearly to their relevant services. Their article "What's Your Reason" directs patients seeking to get healthy in the New Year to the system's heart and vascular center, including a free online heart health calculator that tells users if they should get screened.


Expert insight: Organize your system's online services around the way consumers experience symptoms rather than how you treat them so that the patient's journey from symptom searching to scheduling an appointment is an easy one. To more successfully convert browsers into patients, pair these articles with user-friendly links allowing patients to make appointments directly on your organization's website.

2. Create shareable content to scale word-of-mouth

To spread word-of-mouth marketing via social media channels, create posts patients want to share with their network, such as heartwarming testimonials from staff and patients or topical writings. A recent post on AAMC's Facebook page highlighted pictures of nurses with Eaton, the hospital's therapy dog, on National Dress Up Your Pet Day. The post gained over 100 likes, shares, and comments from community members.

Expert insight: Our consumer research indicates that friend and family referrals are the top resource valued by patients when researching a specialist. Creating easy-to-share posts that link to system services scales the word-of-mouth marketing opportunity among your followers' social networks.

3. Encourage engagement at the right moments

AAMC doubles down on its social media strategy during holidays and advocacy campaigns, thereby taking advantage of times that users are more active online. For example, every year during "Movember"—an annual event in which people grow mustaches in November to raise awareness for men's health—AAMC invites users to post a mustache photo (real or fake) to social media with the hashtag #AAMCStachie. The campaign raises awareness, draws hundreds of submissions through user-generated posts, and associates AAMC with specialty offerings.

Expert insight: Go beyond scaling engagement across your entire follower base at opportune moments. Target social media engagement initiatives to each individual patient by embedding the online review process in the patient's post-visit online itinerary, along with routine post-visit tasks such as finance and pharmacy.



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