When you think of social media geniuses, your brain may not jump immediately to the Mayo Clinic. But did you know that the Mayo Clinic was the top Health Information Website in 2015? That's thanks to its enormous Facebook and Twitter following, YouTube content publishing, multiple blogs and podcasts. It'd be difficult not to recognize the Mayo Clinic with that kind of reach.
Just look at the incredible reach the Mayo Clinic has:
- 1,171,739 Twitter followers
- 632,219 Facebook followers
- 22,244,400 YouTube video views
The Mayo Clinic has built a uniquely impressive social media presence within the healthcare space. As a marketer, I’m continually impressed by how forward-thinking and effective their strategy is. Besides the sheer volume and quality of the patient education content they share, the Mayo Clinic dominate social media for this reason: Their main goal is always to empower patients to take control of their health.
So what can you learn from the Mayo Clinic about social media? You probably don’t have the same time or resources to pour into social media. But if you follow these key guidelines, you’ll be on your way to a strong social media strategy that puts your practice ahead of the game.
Here are my tips for creating engaging, helpful social connections, inspired by the experts at the Mayo Clinic.
1. Take It Seriously!
Don't let anyone tell you social media is a kids' game. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may sometimes seem shallow, but they wield an enormous amount of power over your brand and perception within the healthcare community. Use it to your advantage. By making social media a priority, you show patients and others in your field that you care about making connections and building relationships, and not just your bottom line. The Mayo Clinic fills its social channels with excellent content – which shows they’re committed patient satisfaction. They’re not just a large brand going through the motions of marketing.
When you engage patients with thoughtful content, they feel more comfortable asking questions. Take advantage of this, too. I've found that some of the best patient feedback comes in through Facebook or Twitter, where you can ask patients how they really feel and get better engagement. Think about it – the average social media user checks their Facebook daily, and might not mind filling out a quick survey as they’re checking their newsfeed. The same patient might skip over handouts, survey emails or in-office comment cards.
Encourage everyone in your practice to think about social media as a tool. When you have a problem that stumps your staff, see if you can leverage social media to find a solution. Find information on LinkedIn that may help you, or ask experts in a Twitter chat. It's easier to make social media work for you if you have a strong presence, so update regularly and maintain a powerful brand identity online. Really serve people who come to you through internet communities, and you'll benefit in return.
2. Use Your Imagination
We've established that social media should be considered a real, influential technology. But that doesn't mean it can't be also be fun. With such an open platform, it's easy to innovate and get peoples' attention going above and beyond.
Take a look at the Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation blog. It does a great job of showcasing innovative technology and treatment from the Mayo Clinic as well as practices and companies across the country. Clever videos, games, and information portals help patients take control of their own health. While you may not have the resources of the Mayo Clinic, don’t shy away from sharing creative patient education resources you come across, or hosting a contest or game on your Twitter account. Creativity is what sets you apart.
Since your practice is likely much smaller than the Mayo Clinic, you can also really fine-tune your social media approach to patient needs. Try meeting patient needs before they even walk through the door. Illustrate answers to common questions so patients can come into your practice with information. Host live Twitter chats so patients can better know their doctors, or make and share videos that walk through a day in the life of your practice. These don’t need to be high-tech or beautifully-polished; they just need to give a sense of your approach and personality. Focus on your strengths as a provider, and be proud to broadcast them to the world.
3. Be Consistent
I've found this is one of the biggest challenges of social media. Posting great content and engaging with patients, every single day? Not an easy task! It takes dedication. And beyond just the consistency of your posting schedule, it’s important that you have a clear, consistent message and brand identity.
The Mayo Clinic has quite a bit of help in staying consistent. They established the May Clinic Center for Social Media with the goal of keeping the clinic's branding and content production consistent, while also recognizing and addressing patient problems. As Jasmine Pennic at HIT Consultant puts it, " Mayo Clinic uses social media to get patients to become better advocates for their own care."
That sounds pretty lofty! And it is. Scale down your social media to fit your practice, but build a mission statement that models larger companies you look up to. Designate one or a few key staff members who will focus on social engagement and share messaging guidelines. This will help you deliver consistent, quality content that patients associate with your brand. Think about what it takes to make your practice a household name- even if it’s just a “household” in your local community.
Come up with your own mission statement for social outreach, and let it drive the way you connect with patients. Your patients will recognize your goals when they see your social media presence--and they'll appreciate it, too.
What strategies have helped your practice build a social media presence? Leave a comment below!