Episode 61 - Getting Your Practice Social Savvy
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat … oh my! As more Americans use social media daily than ever before, is your practice taking advantage of reaching current and prospective patients? Emily Thompson, marketing and digital communications assistant, Treasure Coast Community Health discusses how practices can use social media to promote their services, providers, and team members. Also, learn about those online review sites and tips for engaging with patients online.
Joe: On this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice," getting social with your practice, we'll talk about Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, what's coming next in the social media world to get your practice online and promote the great work that you're doing for your patients each and every day. We'll talk to one of our providers who's very active on social media, along with some advice for providers who may not yet be on social media networks. We'll let you know what may be the best one for you to start out on. This is "Putting Possibility into Practice," and it starts right now.
I'm Joe Agostinelli, social media manager at Greenway Health, and welcome to this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice." If you're a returning listener, we thank you once again for tuning in, and if you're a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice, and we'll go into a little more detail at the end of this podcast as to the platforms that you can find our podcast on and get notifications on a weekly basis when new episodes are uploaded. On this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice," we're talking about social media, whether your practice is active on social media or has not yet adopted social media to promote the work that you're doing in the community for your patients and those you serve each and every day.
We'll bring in Emily Thompson of Treasure Coast Community Health. She is the marketing and digital communications assistant. She'll provide some information and details on how the practice is using social media. We'll also touch on how Greenway Health uses social media on a daily basis and provide advice for providers who may be looking to get on social media. Plus, that digital reputation everyone's leaving reviews and reading reviews, we'll talk about how to deal with those and responses to engage patients across digital media. So, without further ado, I would like to welcome Emily to this episode. Emily, thanks for joining me.
Emily: Thanks for having me, Joe. I'm really excited to be here.
Joe: And, Emily, just for those who may not be familiar, just a brief background of the Treasure Coast Community Health, where are you guys located, and services that you guys provide, and specialties.
Emily: Yeah. Treasure Coast Community Health, we are a federally qualified health center, and we're also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. So we serve all people, regardless of ability to pay. We provide medical, dental, and behavioral health services. And last year, we served I believe over 22,000 unduplicated patients, and we celebrated our 25th anniversary. And we now have seven locations all across Indian River County here in Florida.
Joe: And with so many locations, Treasure Coast Community Health is very active on social media. And before we get into the networks that Treasure Coast Community Health uses on a daily basis. In full transparency, Greenway Health does also utilize social media networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Glassdoor. Now, many practices will not need that full range of social media networks. Emily, why don't you touch on some of the social media networks that Treasure Coast Community Health currently uses on a daily basis?
Emily: Yeah. We primarily focus on Facebook, kind of our primary platform that we use to reach our patients. We are also established on LinkedIn, and we use that pretty often as well. We do have a Twitter account. We are not as active on it. Like I said, we kind of focus on Facebook. I have been here for about a year and a half, and they kind of brought me in to establish a social media following. So, when I came in, I really wanted to focus on Facebook, and I would recommend anybody starting out kinda do the same just to build that following and kind of establish yourself on social media. We are actually branching out, and we are launching an Instagram account for our upcoming Just For Me program, which is a teen program. Since Instagram tends to be more of a younger demographic, we are kind of focusing that on them. So we're really excited to roll that out here in the next month or so.
Joe: And that brings up a great point as you talk about the demographics on the different networks, and we recently joined together for a webinar on this very same topic when we talked about some of the demographics for each network in. On the Instagram front and, you know, perhaps, like a pediatric practice, for example, or a practice that does have a lot of the younger population when it comes to health care, branching out into Instagram may be a good idea for some providers, correct?
Emily: Definitely, definitely. I think, moving forward, technology is always changing, social media is part of that, it's always changing, and I think it's very important to stay up to date and kind of know where your audience is, what platform they're using, and how they're using it. So, right now, Instagram is for the younger, you know, demographic, but who knows, that might change. It's something that is very fluid and dynamic, and you kinda wanna keep up with it. So, yeah, that's definitely something to keep in mind when you're thinking of branching out and where you really wanna establish your following.
Joe: Emily, we'll talk about practices, who may not yet be on social media in just a little bit. But as you talked about expanding to different networks, do you, ahead of time, go ahead and claim Twitter handles, Instagram handles, you know, a LinkedIn company name ahead of time so you're closely aligned with all of your pages, sharing the same name for the practice?
Emily: Yeah, I would definitely say that is a good thing to do. As I mentioned, we have a Twitter account that we're not extremely active on, but we do have that account and we have that handle just reserved so nobody else will take it. And you really wanna have consistency across the board with all of your platforms, so I would definitely say to go ahead and claim those pages. Maybe you think you'll never use Instagram, who knows? But you kinda wanna have that, you wanna have that in your back pocket in case you ever wanna use it. It's important to kind of have that consistency across all your platforms, so I would definitely say yes, you should go ahead and just claim them just so you have them. You know, you never know in the future if you might need it.
Joe: And advice for practices who may be, other than what we had just spoke about, advice for practices maybe not yet on social media, where should they start if they wanted to start a social media network?
Emily: We did kinda talk about demographics, and I always say that that's key. You really wanna know who you're targeting and what they're doing, what they're using. So you really wanna establish your demographic and your goals, what do you wanna get from going on social media? I usually say my rule of thumb is to start with Facebook. It's very simple to use if you are not really familiar with anything. It's very straightforward, easy to use, and it's pretty universal, almost everybody is on Facebook. I would always say that that is probably the best place to start, and I would say start slow. Pick one, like we kinda mention, you wanna reserve those handles elsewhere, but pick one, put your energy into it, establish a following, and then kind of branch out from there. You don't wanna get overwhelmed and put your manpower into so many different platforms without really getting anything done. So I would definitely say choose one, my recommendation would be Facebook, and then kind of branch out from there.
Joe: And how does Treasure Coast Community Health utilize the networks to promote the practice and its providers and also engage with patients?
Emily: Yeah. As I mentioned, we're primarily on Facebook, we use Facebook to do a lot of things. We use it a lot for patient education. We really wanna keep our patients up to date with what's going on with both our organization and also just health care news in general. We also really like to promote our providers, our services, our staff. We have a staff of around 250 people. So we always have a lot going on, there's always something to talk about. We really like to give a space to our practice. I think people really enjoy kind of seeing what's behind the scenes. We really love to get our staff involved, and these are people that you see on a regular basis. You walk into your doctor's office, you see the receptionist, you see your MA, you see your nurses, see your doctor. So these are people that we wanna feature and give a space and a name to, and you know, you always wanna see those smiling faces. And we also really rely on the advertising feature of Facebook, which I'm a very big fan of. It's very cheap, as advertising goes, and it's very easy to use, and it's very easy to target. You can target by geographic area or age or likes and dislikes, stuff like that. So I think Facebook is a great way to both reach patients, educate them, promote your services, promote your providers, and really just spread awareness about your practice and what you're doing.
Joe: And, obviously, one of the things with digital media and, you know, kinda the demographic now with the health care consumer, you know, as a patient is reviews. I mean, it's no secret, people are checking up on what folks are saying about providers, either maybe before coming into the practice for the very first time or even long-time patients may be leaving a review after a recent visit. What does Treasure Coast Community Health do to engage patients to leave reviews, you know, whether it is on one of the social media networks or maybe one of the review sites, like Yelp or Google or another site like that?
Emily: Yeah, I'm glad you mention that because I think reviews are really playing a huge part, especially in health care, and it's really starting to increase its presence, especially with the younger generations coming up. A lot of people will go on, and it's been...I mean, there are statistics to back this up that there are a lot of patients that go online first, and they will read reviews before they go anywhere. I mean, I can say, as a millennial, I do that on Amazon before I purchase something, let alone finding a medical provider. So I think these things are very important. I would say that the first thing I would say to do if you are not established on any review sites, I would focus on Google primarily. On Facebook, you can actually disable the review section if that's necessary, if you are unprepared, or if you're just kind of overwhelmed and you can't quite manage that yet. If you're just starting out, I would say you can disable the review on Facebook and use that to your advantage so you can get caught up, establish a plan, establish a policy, and move forward. You're always going to have those negative reviews. They're always just kinda gonna be there, but it's important to address them. You never really wanna let something just sit for everyone to see.
So, once you have your pages claimed, I would say respond to reviews as much as you possibly can and try your best to get them off of the public forum. We always use the rule of two to where, you know, you just reply to the initial response, be thoughtful, be compassionate, and really address the problem, and then offer, you know, "Come contact me either at this email or this phone number," and get that conversation off of a public forum. Some people you're just not going to appease, and that's just how it's gonna go. But really, your goal is going to want to get this conversation out of the public and into a direct discussion with you and whoever has the issue. But as I mentioned, I would say, first thing, claim your pages because there may be pages already in existence without you knowing them and without you being able to monitor them. So that's very important. So it seems like the world of reviews is much more complicated than it actually is. Really, I would say engage as much as possible, monitor those pages, and you really wanna know what's going on.
Joe: And then, you know, in regards to negative reviews, how does this...and you talked about, you know, the engagement and taking it offline, do you have a policy in place outside of the two that you talked about? Do you have a policy in place where you may actually remove a review or a comment on any of your social media networks?
Emily: We do have a social media policy that essentially really aligns with the policies of Google or Yelp. Actually, recently, when I first began claiming our pages, there was a review that was up there without our knowledge that featured one of our provider's name, a photo, and a scathing review. Now, when you're working with a practice, you're going to have names mentioned, and I mean, sometimes, there's just not a way around that. But we were able to get this review taken down because it had personal information, had her name, her photograph, and personal information about her. So, stuff like that, you really do wanna monitor closely. And I would say definitely review the policies of the forum in which you're working with, such as Google or Yelp, something like that, and know what their policies are, see if something that's on there and that is violating their policies, and you wanna go on with that.
And you also do with either reviews or social media, you always have to keep HIPAA in mind. You never wanna do anything that really violates that. And I would say the same thing, as I mentioned before, get that conversation off of the public forum, especially with a medical practice. Those are something you have to keep in mind. If you have a policy in place, usually you don't wanna delete comments on Facebook, something like that. You can generally hide them, but you really don't want to delete comments unless it is a violation of HIPAA or one of your policies. So I would definitely say yes, develop some kind of policy or guideline just in case if you are not the one managing the social media, if one of your employees is, everyone wants to be on the same page.
Joe: And to wrap up this episode, photos and videos, so engaging these days, but a lot of folks may think, "I don't have time to hire a photographer or set it up to have a nice professional photograph to show or a videographer. I don't have a high enough quality video camera to be posting stuff like that." But with this, you know, day and age of brand new cellphones coming out on a daily basis, how easy is it for, you know, somebody to get a quick photo or a quick video to post from you guys' experience?
Emily: It's incredibly easy, especially now that we all have iPhones and smartphones and stuff like that, and it's even easier when your staff takes a picture and then sends it to you. That's my favorite thing. I love to receive photograph videos from a day-to-day operation at the office, because generally, I'm not in every single office, I don't know what's going on at all times. So, that's always very nice. But we essentially have professional cameras in our back pockets now. So I would really say anybody can do it. As I mentioned before, you really wanna give a space to your practice. So, usually, spaces, photographs and videos of spaces are much more engaging. I mean, in health care, we're on the business of people, so we really want to showcase that, and we have all the tools necessary. Anybody can do it. You can take photograph, you can take video any day. And with all the resources online, such as a webinar like this, there are so many webinars, podcasts, so much advice out there, so much going on. This is such a blossoming field to where there are so many resources out there. You have a lot of tools at your disposal, and I would say definitely use them.
Joe: And you just hit on it, I was going to remind folks that if they wanted more information and even some visuals, not only can you like Treasure Coast Community Health on Facebook, but also Emily and I recently hosted a webinar and you can find it on the Greenway Health website at www.greenwayhealth.com under our Knowledge Center, where all of our past webinars are housed for more information on incorporating or using social media at your practice on a daily basis. I want to thank Emily Thompson. Lot of great information today on getting your practice up to speed on everything social media. Thank you again, Emily, for joining us.
Emily: Thank you for having me, Joe.
Joe: And I thank you for tuning in to this episode of "Putting Possibility into Practice." A reminder that you can subscribe to our podcast on your platform of choice, and we are on a number of them. You can find us on iTunes, Google Play Podcast, Stitcher, fm.player, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, SoundCloud, Libsyn, Spotify, and more podcast platforms coming soon. I'm Joe Agostinelli, the social media manager at Greenway Health. And for more information on social media in your practice, I invite you to visit our Knowledge Center on our website, as I mentioned, at www.greenwayhealth.com, recent webinars, all soaps and past blogs on featuring different ways you can incorporate social media into your practice. Thanks for listening to this episode, and we hope you once again tune in to "Putting Possibility into Practice" each week on your podcast platform of choice.