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Posted on 08.03.2011

Five Ideas to Generate Conversation on Your Hospital Facebook Page

Ed Bennett has long been the official record keeper of hospitals’ use of social media in the U.S.  For more than five years, he has diligently researched hospitals’ presence in various social media platforms, then documented and segmented usage statistics in an unbelievably useful and generous manner on his blog, Found in Cache. But even with more than one thousand hospitals now attempting to engage patients on Facebook, consumers often still face a surprising dearth of authentic or “engaging” content from their local medical center.  Many hospitals are using Facebook as little more than a bulletin board for the once a month press release or health fair promotion. If your hospital is hungry for engagement but short on ideas, consider these five ideas to generate interest and buzz on your Facebook wall:
  1. Working within the confines of HIPAA (of course), post warm and compelling information about what’s happening in your hospital.  “ABC General welcomed 468 newborns into the world last month, including 23 multiples and 230 premies. Thank you to the many Moms and families who trust us with the care of your little ones!”
  2. If your hospital compares favorably to competing facilities in your market, point your Facebook community toward the CMS HospitalCompare site.  With the appropriate link, you can direct followers to the scores that best demonstrate your hospital’s strengths.
  3. Use Facebook for informal (and unscientific) market research.  Ask your fans what they think is the most pressing health issue in the local community, or link with a local health organization such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation or American Heart Association and post a stat about local rates of common illnesses.  Relate the information to your services lines.
  4. Hold a photo contest.  Encourage fans to post photos of themselves displaying or even being your logo; ask friends to show how they stay fit or lower their cholesterol (being careful not to elicit Protected Health Information under HIPAA); have kids submit drawings of how easy it is to receive a flu shot or mist.
  5. Brag on your staff.  Ask managers and department heads for information about employees who have gone above and beyond and post a kudo (with the employee’s consent). If your hospital receives a letter of praise that shines a positive spotlight on a particular staff member, post it to your wall with a photo of the employee or employees involved in the patient’s care.
Obviously, before making even your first post, provide a link on your profile page to your hospital’s Facebook comment policy (which can be easily posted in a note), and make sure your hospital’s social media policy for employees is both well propagated and enforced. Here are a few of our favorite hospital fan pages on Facebook.  Leave a comment and let us know about your favorite! St. Jude’s Hospital Mayo Clinic Trinity Medical Center, Birmingham, AL Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

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