What should your strategy be post-COVID-19?
It should come as no surprise that Americans have spent more time online during the coronavirus pandemic. Between stay-at-home orders and a thirst for up-to-date information, more people than ever are turning to the internet to stay connected and informed.
According to a New York Times analysis, use of social media has increased significantly. Facebook, for example, saw a 27 percent traffic increase in desktop users between January and March. People also want to find out how their community and neighbors are responding to the crisis, leading to a more than 73 percent spike in traffic for hyperlocal social media site Nextdoor.
If your practice has put your social media efforts on the back burner, now’s the time to take action. Here are our top ideas, videos, and topics to post now—and what to avoid.
Reach patients directly and immediately.
“Social media gives your team a direct-to-consumer channel to engage audiences” in real-time, noted Geonetric, an Iowa-based healthcare marketing agency. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor to address patients’ timely questions and concerns. Has your practice reopened? Have your hours changed? Do you have new safety protocols? These are perfect things to post on social media. Here’s an example:
Be mindful of the current climate. Use social media to inform and educate patients rather than being promotional—unless you are promoting needed services that can save patients time and money now.
Inform, don’t sell.
In our current climate, where fears and misinformation are rampant, accurate information from trusted sources, like doctors, is key. Use this time to share relevant health content rather than promoting nonessential products or services. Even in non-crisis times, it’s important to remember the “social” part of social media. “Generally speaking, approximately 80 percent of your content should be informative or interesting and 20 percent should be promotional,” according to PatientPop.
Highlight convenience and savings.
That said, now is the perfect time to share any offers that can save patients time and money. Social media is a great way to spread the word to contact lens patients, for example, that they can buy a year’s supply of contact lenses from you by mail.
Promote needed services.
“If you offer services that may see increased interest or demand, consider promoting them more widely,” suggested Geonetric. For example, the shift to online learning will impact the growing concern of myopia in school-aged children. On social media, share information about the condition and related services your practice offers. Apply the same strategy for dry eye and digital eye strain.
Be reassuring and reliable.
People are less risk-tolerant now, according to an article on the MarketMuse content marketing blog. This means that effective marketing at this time must reassure patients that your practice is keeping them safe. “Aside from reassuring them that you’re handling the crisis well, you have to communicate both the value and reliability of what you [do].” Consider sharing good reviews, patient testimonials, or any other accolades your practice has received.
Another way to connect with people online is to share how you and your practice are giving back during this difficult time. Appreciation for doctors and other frontline workers is at an all-time high. Use social media to share any volunteer efforts or donations your practice has contributed, celebrations of your staff and colleagues, and positive stories from patients, fellow healthcare workers, or others who are helping your community during this crisis.
Visual content such as short videos explaining procedures or common conditions performs well on social media, and provides an easy way for patients to engage with your practice online.
It’s no coincidence that those having the most success with social media, including these five doctors, frequently post photos and videos. “Digital consumers love visual content,” according to PatientPop, which suggests sharing short videos explaining a new procedure or common diagnosis as an easy way for followers to engage with your practice. For example, this video explains how the eye works: How Light Travels through the Eye.
Diversify your social presence.
While it’s not necessary to be on every single social media platform, “different demographics gravitate toward different social networks,” noted PatientPop. According to Pew Research, Facebook is still one of the most used social media platforms, attracting 69 percent of U.S. adults. “The majority of Americans in different age groups use Facebook,” reported Sprout Social. Even among those aged 65 and older, it is the most-used social platform, with 46 percent of this age group using Facebook. Younger people are more likely to use YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat; 64 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are on Instagram, for instance.
Embrace the unexpected.
Until recently, TikTok was an app most used by tweens and teens to record short music and dance videos. But during COVID-19, it has emerged as an unexpected wellness tool for health care workers, wrote Manya J. Gupta, M.D., on KevinMD.com. By now you may have seen some of the hundreds of videos of frontline health care workers “performing dances, reenacting hilarious health care scenes, promoting ‘Stay at Home’ messages, or simply showing others what it’s like to don layer upon layer of PPE.” Even if you can’t convince your staff to film a dance challenge, sharing or retweeting a TikTok video is an easy and unexpected way to engage with your patients.
Post at the right time.
Data suggests that posting at specific times on certain social media platforms increases engagement rates. Like everything else, COVID-19 has changed these times. Sprout Social released new information on changes to social media engagement during the pandemic.
Currently, the best times to post on Facebook are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11–12 p.m. EST. In fact, every day at 12 p.m. was a slight peak compared to the rest of the day, according to the report. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday at 3 p.m. are the best times to post on Instagram, while the current best time to post on Twitter is Friday 8–10 a.m. Don’t bother posting in the evenings: remote workers are juggling more demands on their time at home than ever before. Weekends and weekdays after 5 p.m. showed a significant drop off, noted Sprout.
Staying consistent with your social media strategy doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Rendia makes it easy to post relevant, visual content branded with your practice’s name on your social media platforms.