Businesses that ignore social media channels for marketing and public relations do so to their own detriment. The same holds true for health care providers. Indeed, the past five years have seen explosive growth in the number of hospitals that use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to enhance their reputation and build their brand.
Hospitals make the best of use of social media, along with their own websites and blogs, when they provide useful information and engage consumers. Social media can play a vital role in creating an identity, branding, and building trust and loyalty among health care consumers.
Even before considering Facebook and other outlets, the first step is to ensure that a hospital's website is optimized to be as functional and effective as possible. Along with SEO, appealing design and great content are fundamental. A hospital or health system's website is often the consumer's first exposure to the provider.
At Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), a specialty hospital devoted to the care of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, our goal is to be a valuable and trusted resource by providing comprehensive information in our specialties of orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. We continually update the website with fresh content, photos and videos to maintain consumer interest.
While many people in the New York metropolitan area are familiar with our hospital, the challenge is to attract patients from across the country and around the world who could benefit from the highly specialized care the hospital provides.
The HSS website plays a key role in the marketing campaign. The goal is to communicate that the hospital's doors are open to the most difficult and challenging cases; that the sheer volume of procedures and laser focus on orthopedics are unmatched; that people who have lost hope could get a second chance at HSS.
How do you communicate these messages? To start, reputable third-party endorsements are prominently featured on the home page. One such example is the hospital's No. 1 ranking in Orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report.
Another major feature on the home page is "Back in the Game," an interactive portal that invites patients to post their own photos and personal stories about how HSS helped them get "back in the game" of life. The feature went live on February 2, 2015, and by the one-year anniversary of the site, more than 1,200 patients had posted their inspiring stories and photos.
In addition to boosting current patient engagement, "Back in the Game" enables a more personal connection with visitors to the site who may be inspired by the patient stories and can see how the hospital helps others.