Sharing good news on social media: 10 tips for hospital leaders

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photo of a womanDoes your hospital have good news to tell? Maybe you’ve reached a milestone, like performing 1,000 liver transplants, pioneering a new medical procedure or watching a patient who beat cancer run the Boston Marathon.

These are all great stories, but how can you leverage social media to tell them?

Here are some items to keep in mind if you want to create buzz on social media.

Have a plan: Don’t wait until the last minute. Meet with key stakeholders three months ahead to flesh out the story and decide how “mediagenic” it is. Do you need to hold celebratory event and what should that event look like? Does this event become the vehicle for telling your news? Or is this a personal story, which would be better suited in by a video and media interviews?

Frame your story: Building a story is like building a house--you need to follow a plan and frame it well. Otherwise, it will fall apart and won’t have the impact you want. Ask yourself: What’s the news? Is it hard-hitting news or feel-good story? Who’s going to tell the story? Would it be more interesting if the hospital tells the story or the patient tells it? Decide on a strategy for sharing your news, and determine the ultimate message you hope to provide. Plan for photos or videos if needed.

Show, don’t tell: The old adage goes “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and this is especially true for social media. Images help to bring your story to life, increase engagement on Facebook and help your post stand out on Twitter. So be sure to think about how photos or videos can help tell your story.
Blog about it: Your hospital’s blog is the living and breathing part of your website, so any new marketing content should be posted there. Blogs don’t have to be your typical written article, they can contain a variety of content--including videos. So if you post a video on YouTube and/or your website, be sure to also feature it on your blog. This will make the video easier to find, and allow you to share it on social media to bring more visitors to your website.

“Slice and dice” content: Think of the commercials for those kitchen tools that can slice your veggies a bunch of different ways--and do the same for your news. Think outside of the box and consider creating multiple blog posts that focus on different story angles. Not only does this prevent blog posts from becoming too long, it makes the story easier to read and allows you to “feed the beast” by creating multiple days of blog content. You can also create a video from the same story. Different people like to access content differently, so keep that in mind when you look at your distribution strategy.

Share on multiple channels: Be sure to share your news on all of your social media channels, including the blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram (if you have one). And don’t forget LinkedIn. LinkedIn members, while business professionals, still need healthcare services and may be interested in your news. And positive stories on your LinkedIn page will also help your recruiting efforts.

The more the merrier: Hospitals are often one of the biggest employers in a community, so it’s no surprise that one of the best ways to share your news is to encourage your employees to share it on their social media channels. And while many hospitals don’t want their employees using Facebook at work, positive news stories and videos are perfect for Facebook, so try designating times to be online or specific staffers who are sharing content.

Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter: After spending time to create compelling content, make your news easy to find and use the right hashtag. Hashtags help people find and track content on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So when thinking about hashtags, pick a popular hashtag that people already use and consider creating one for the event (so it’s easier for you--and viewers--to track).

Repeat, repeat, repeat: Don’t create just one social media post and walk away. Instead, create multiple posts that direct people to your website for more information. This is especially useful on Twitter, where there is so much content. You can create a tweet that announces the news, one that includes a statistic you mentioned in your post and one that highlights a quote from the post, just to name a few.

Don’t forget the basics: Even if you’re sharing your news on social media, don’t forget to issue a press release announcing news. Not only should you send the release to local media, be sure to post it in your news section of your website. In addition, be sure to share a link to any videos and or photos you used to tell your story, which reporters may also utilize.

By leveraging social media, hospitals have an opportunity to celebrate their good news and find creative ways to share it with others. So think outside of the box and have some fun. You might be surprised by the results.

Jenn Riggle is the senior director of public relations for Compass Professional Health Services.