So many social media channels, so little time! Not only can the sheer number of options be overwhelming, but there are also plenty of pitfalls and rewards to consider. You want to respect privacy, avoid making inadvertent factual or grammatical errors (that become public), and of course reach the right audience. What to do? Where to go? Which channel is easier, faster, safer…better?
Here, I’ve compiled a list the social media channels I use and what benefits they bring me. Obviously, this represents my own, personal opinion, and reflects my individual experiences as a healthcare marketing manager. However, perhaps for some of you they can represent a launching point, help inform a decision, or – best of all – spark some discussion and note-comparing.
Twitter, Hootsuite and Vine
Twitter is great for short bursts of information, and Vine – Twitter’s proprietary app for sharing photos and videos – has been a helpful recent addition (on that note, here’s an interesting post about a hospital using Vine in the OR for educational purposes). In all cases, hashtags can really help your tweets get the attention you want. You can see some great health ones here on symplur.
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Twitter’s 140 character length limit means I try to shorten URLs when I can. For that – unless I’m tweeting from a site that has a ‘tweet this’ button – I usually use Hootsuite, which also helps me organize my content flow a bit better. Hootsuite is particularly well-constructed for following healthcare tweetchats and for live-tweeting at conventions, offering user-friendly message streams, and ways to search hashtags and twitter handles. The service also provides another convenience: It lets you have several Twitter accounts right on the same page (your practice and your personal one, for example). This can be a great time-saver, but a word of caution – use the correct account for the appropriate tweet.
Facebook is the most social of the social channels, and I find it to be an excellent gathering place for casual conversation and engagement, especially about wellness news. I think the Cleveland Clinic uses Facebook really well for their Health Hub page.Be careful of photos you post on Facebook, though. When I am at a convention or an event, I love to post pictures, especially if it is a group gathering. But make sure you have everyone’s OK with being on Facebook. Many people don’t want to have their photos shared on the Internet at all, so always ask.I won’t go into the privacy concerns about healthcare professionals posting on Facebook, as there are innumerable articles written on that topic already. I think the best thing to do for anyone (and that includes me) is to keep your personal FB page personal and your business FB page business.
Pinterest is mainly a scrapbook; you just “pin” an article or post to your Pinterest page (note that there must be a photo on the page for the post to look like anything). I use Pinterest to post infographics, photos, and images of interesting gadgets. Nutrition and fitness content does well here, I’ve found. Also, keep in mind that it is currently visited mainly by a female audience, so it can be a great place for information relating to women’s health. Overall, Pinterest is a visual journey. You can browse through the site to see exactly what I mean.
It’s been said before, if Facebook is the casual healthcare venue, LinkedIn is the office (complete with job search features). I see it as the most “serious” of the social sites. Create a profile on LinkedIn and, these days, it often becomes your resume. On the site, you can network with any number of people, join groups with special interests, and participate in discussions with other members. Within these groups, posts and comments are moderated, and participants typically need permission to join. LinkedIn represents a great networking opportunity and is wonderful for researching companies and individuals, reaching out, and “getting to know people” virtually. My company, HealthWorks Collective, has just started a LinkedIn HealthWorks Collective Group – check it out and please join if you are interested.
Google+ has good features for posting articles and photos, and it also offers the G+ “Hangout,” a live video streaming feature where a group of participants can get together to discuss a topic, brainstorm, or conduct a meeting. Later, users can upload a hangout to YouTube and post it and share it. Here’s a hangout on Google Glass that was uploaded to YouTube and then put in a post: Google Glass in Surgery.G+ started out with a smaller, more tech-centric audience but it is more mainstream now and is very easy to use, with large numbers of communities available to browse or easily join (unlike LinkedIn, moderator approval isn’t necessary). I post a lot on G+, basing my choice for which health community to share through mostly on the topic I’m sharing information about.
Skype and YouTube
Video is a great way to vary the delivery of your message. A video embedded in a post gives your audience the option of watching, reading, or both. I tend to rely on Skype for video interviews of health start-up CEOs, doctors, and other thought leaders. The process is easy: Skype offers a built-in recorder, and users can then edit the result in iMovie and upload to YouTube. The quality is not the best, but it is easy and the only costs is the price of downloading the Skype recorder, which is nominal.If you choose to make your YouTube video “public,” it can be seen by anyone, and can be embedded in a post easily. Here is a sample of a Skype interview edited in iMovie, uploaded to YouTube, and then embedded in a post: Acquapura.
Scoop.it is a news board of posts and articles written on a variety of topics. Here, you can choose a topic to curate, and can then “publish” related posts on your own board. I use Scoop.it primarily as a fast and easy way to monitor and share what’s happening in healthcare around the web. Always check the dates on the news articles; I have come across some rather dated posts on Scoop.it.There are many other social channels, certainly, but I have found the above to be the most useful for me. Try them out, see how you like them!Joan Justice is the Senior Curator for HealthWorksCollective, where another versionof this post appears. She holds both a nursing and a graduate business degree, and has worked in domestic and international marketing management for several major healthcare corporations. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.