Twitter is a powerful outreach and brand-building tool — when it’s utilized effectively.
That second part is the rub for countless brands, including many healthcare providers with compelling stories to tell. Twitter is clever, but it’s not smart, and it only works for users who make it work for them.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some broadly applicable strategies that healthcare providers are using right now to grow their brands and cultivate meaningful, lasting relationships on Twitter.
Focusing on Trends Affecting the People They Serve
Your Twitter audience and your organization’s target audience aren’t identical, but the two groups surely share many of the same members. With this overlap in mind, focus your tweets whenever possible on the needs and interests of the latter — the people your organization exists to serve.
The Twitter handle for this behavioral health services provider shows how this is done. Its Twitter account regularly surfaces trends that affect the people it cares for, like racial discrepancies in access to mental health care and work-related mental health issues. It’s a simple but powerful strategy that showcases the company as a leader in the behavioral health space.
Highlighting the Accomplishments of Staff and Providers
This is one strategy that’s basically universally applicable across the healthcare industry. After all, every healthcare organization employs passionate providers and support staff who work every day to improve outcomes for their patients or clients. It’s only natural to highlight their achievements — and demonstrate that they’re available if and when your audience needs them.
Touting Recognition and “Wins” (Without Being Too Braggy)
This is another near-universal strategy that’s only a bit trickier to execute without coming on too strong. Just as every healthcare organization has providers and staff who make contributions worthy of celebration, everyone can point to external recognition (awards, inclusion on “best of” lists) or objective achievements (like opening a new facility or rolling out a new care service).
Your organization should showcase achievements like these in a way that doesn’t come off as braggy or overly competitive. Coming on too strong takes the focus off those you serve and could backfire. New York’s Mount Sinai Health System shows how to walk this line effectively with tweets that acknowledge and celebrate staff awards without crowing about them.
Taking Audiences Behind the Scenes (Ethically)
Patient privacy laws and basic ethical considerations prevent healthcare organizations from sharing behind-the-scenes “candid” content like brands in other industries can and do. But it’s not as if your organization has no right to share news and scenes from the halls of its facilities or the offices of its providers. Indeed, this is a great way to humanize your staff and the organization itself.
Showcasing the Science
Your audience deserves your respect. What better way to give it than to celebrate the original work your staff does to advance their respective fields?
If your organization actively sponsors or hosts research, make this work a core component of your Twitter strategy. Nothing establishes thought leadership like a well-publicized record of scientific achievement.
Advocating for Themselves and the People They Serve
The healthcare industry employs millions of people and produces trillions in value. Collectively, healthcare organizations share a massive megaphone. It’s only natural that they’d turn to Twitter and other social media outlets to advocate for public policy that supports them and — more importantly — the people they serve.
Policy-related social media content doesn’t have to be dry or technical, either. Compelling, personalized appeals drive engagement better than you’d expect and could well attract attention from people in a position to act on them. And they’re a signifier of authenticity as well, a reminder that your organization is made up of humans with goals and imperfections all their own.
Tweet Like You Mean It
What do these Twitter strategies have in common?
More than anything else, they’re built around the principle of authenticity. That is, healthcare brands that utilize these Twitter strategies consistently and effectively are apt to be seen as “real” by their audiences.
In the healthcare space, “real” and “empathetic” might well be synonymous. And while Twitter is likely just one piece of a multifaceted social media strategy, it’s a powerful one — one that allows you to cut through the noise and speak directly to the people you serve.
Use it well. Position yourself as a patient advocate. Ask for feedback, making it clear that you know you have work to do. Highlight the tireless work done by your providers and staff.
Sooner or later, you’ll see the results of your efforts. And those who matter most — your patients — could benefit the most.