Rules of Engagement: Hospitals, Twitter and Potential Patients
Rules of Engagement:
Hospitals, Twitter and Potential Patients
Take steps to engage your
1. Ask followers what they want
2. Host condition-specific chats
3. Follow twitterers in your
4. Monitor what’s said about your
hospital on Twitter and respond
5. Give service lines a voice
6. Employ copywriting 101
7. Show off your hospital’s best
programs and doctors
A hospital’s main goal in utilizing Twitter is to turn web hundred hospitals actually using Twitter. But twitterers
traffic into foot traffic. But there lies a fundamental are looking for engagement that informs, entertains and
problem. Do users respond to twittering hospitals in a prompts them to take some sort of action (like retweeting
meaningful way, and do tweets catalyze facility utilization? or coming to you for care).
The truth is many hospitals are simply using Twitter With so many online conversations happening on Twitter,
to push information out into the world. And while it’s there are plenty of opportunities to build your hospital’s
important to mention award wins, promote hospital brand in a way that gets people through your doors. If your
events and inform the community about service lines, hospital is already using Twitter, don’t stop what you’re
you have to have a two-way conversation with followers doing. The rules of engagement in social mediadom aren’t
to gain any meaningful traction. Hard-line brand building written in stone, but basic marketing principles that have
is a well-practiced mode of operation among the few been around for decades still apply.
Give your current Twitter efforts a boost by:
Ask followers what they think about your hospital and online If you have more followers than you are following, look for
activities. Twitter is great for real-time qualitative surveys. If you community members and organizations to connect with. Think
consistently give your current followers the information they want, about the groups your patients are affiliated with. There’s
they’ll keep returning and will recommend you to their followers. no reason why a hospital shouldn’t be hooked up with local
organizations that target specific groups or health conditions. All
“WHAT do you want tweeted from groups can benefit from your health education.
your hospital?” included a link to the
following poll: Monitoring.
Use Twitter search to see what people are saying about your
brand. If something is amiss, investigate it, fix it and tweet about
your repair to the person(s) affected. Also, perform regular Twitter
WHAT do you want to see tweeted from
searches for key terms that relate to your service line specialties.
your hospital? Use search.twitter.com/advanced to find an opportunity (i.e.,
someone’s need) in your area; then artfully offer your services or
Appointment reminders event as a solution.
Post discharge follow-up
Tips/advice (e.g., healthy recipes from Hospital is VERY dirty and
the dietitian) disgusting compared to our hospital! It almost feels like
Tweets from live education events I gotta sanitize my hands every 15 minutes!
Medical advice (e.g., how to avoid the flu) Trying to get out of Hospital.
Service line marketing Smells disgusting, dirty and dangerous! Has its own
police station in the hospital!
Chatting. The way the emergency room at Hospital
To get more traffic to your website and Twitter page, host a live (formerly know as ) is the pits. It takes
chat where viewers can submit questions via Twitter. Make about 10 hours 2 C a doc.
these events regular, especially if they become popular. Make
sure the chat topics cover interesting, relevant issues to which
your audience will likely contribute. If possible, recruit the most Segmenting.
gregarious expert on staff to host the stream. Personality is king For hospital systems, consider separate Twitter pages for the
and queen. most visited centers or most commonly treated conditions.
You don’t want to confuse or isolate your audience by letting a
Missed yesterday’s flu web chat? general hospital page morph into a pediatric or cancer centric
page. While any traffic is good traffic, your page name(s) should
Not to worry – catch a full replay w/
be distinguishable so you don’t frustrate visitors.
all of the doctors’ answers anytime.
Don’t limit your 140 characters to abstract findings that the Show off your best asset regularly. For example, if your hospital
fast-paced nature of Twitter will quickly swallow. Employ a little prides itself on short wait times, tweet actual wait times. Tell the
copywriting 101 and do some research to create informative twittersphere when the waiting room is near empty. Think about
headlines that pop and, therefore, are more likely to get how “no line, no waiting” works in grocery stores. In addition,
retweeted. back in July 2009, Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City,
Mo., tweeted a surgery being performed on a little boy who was
severely burned on his neck by fireworks six months earlier.
WFUBMC researchers successfully grow
The hospital’s tweets were deployed in a way that educated the
replacement penile erectile tissue for rabbits; public and informed family members, who didn’t have to wait
potential to benefit patients. long for periodic updates about the child’s progress:
Get your hands tested to see how clean they
are—or aren’t. 10am to 3pm Th, Oct. 15 Fountain Dr. Singhal is scrubbing in to prepare for
Entrance Lobby UI Hospitals and Clinics. the surgery
Dr. Singhal will be performing surgery to
insert tissue expanders into the patient’s
In case you’re wondering. Our patient’s mom
gave us permission to tweet about her son’s
Dr. has made the 2nd incision, & is now
making room in the neck to fit the expander.
Our patient’s mother just said she is grateful
for the updates on Twitter
By inflating the expanders over time, new
skin will continue to stretch and grow
At the end of the expansion there will be lots
of extra tissue to allow Dr. to perform plastic
surgery to reconstruct the skin defect.
Hospitals occupy a unique position in social media. While regulations bar certain actions from taking place
online, you, unlike other service providers, know that your followers will always want your advice. Potential and
existing patients already patrol the Internet and social media for insight on symptoms, where to get care, who the
best physicians are, and so forth.
With a multi-dimensional Twitter strategy, you can position your hospital as an all-around problem solver. Whether
you’re offering directions or sending out a thank you, your expert presence online can encourage traffic offline.