How to create a Healthcare Social Media Calendar

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By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer Since the COVID-19 epidemic, people have been searching for trustworthy information and healthcare resources on social media. As expectations for trustworthy, up-to-date information continue to increase, it’s not surprising that some of the most followed and engaged accounts are in the healthcare industry:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 4.2+ Million Facebook (FB) Followers
  • World Health Organization: 38.4+ Million FB Followers
  • Cleveland Clinic: 2+ Million FB Fans
  • The healthcare professionals are able to provide human necessities, and not just luxury services or products. They are uniquely placed to promote their services and products on social media.
    Businesses can use a healthcare social media calendar to engage their audiences via the most popular social networks in real time.
    Social media is a great way for healthcare organizations and providers to build trust and loyalty as well as brand recognition. These organizations recognize the fact that social media is being used more frequently to inform themselves about their products and services.
    * via SproutSocial
    In today’s competitive landscape, it’s essential to have a strategic social presence to drive sales and brand awareness. A social media calendar should be based on organic content. However, paid social advertising can also help to create a synergy between organic and paid posts. A social media schedule can be used to plan and track your digital communications.
    This blog post contains the following:

  • It is important to have a social media calendar that supports your healthcare brand.
  • Und how toYou can create a social calendar that suits your company’s needs.
  • A Social Media Calendar is Essential for Your Healthcare Brand.

    A healthcare social media calendar is an all-inclusive, extensive, and focused tool used to ensure you’re sharing a similar brand story across all marketing channels and media. 
    It encompasses everything related to healthcare marketing: blog posts, events, video content, paid search, and all in-between.
    A well-planned social media calendar defines content themes and posting cadences to meet the expectations of each social platform’s audience and objectives. 
    These are some of the benefits to maintaining a strong social media calendar.

  • It helps you keep your message organized and on-track.
  • Encourages consistency across channels. Avoids repetition of messages.
  • Regular posting is a good idea to avoid gaps in your content.
  • Provides a snapshot of what you’ve recently communicated across channels
  • However, before I share how to build a healthcare social media calendar that works for your business, let’s take a deeper look into eight reasons why healthcare brands need a social media calendar to attract, engage, and connect with their target audience.

    1. Sensitize the public

    Social media is the fastest way to reach today’s healthcare consumers and raise awareness about new, emerging, and cyclical health concerns. 
    It’s highly effective when things that affect public health are rapidly changing. It is essential to communicate timely and relevant information, as well as educational advice, in order to keep people informed about the most recent issues and guidelines.

    Your community will be more loyal if you are aware of the latest health issues.

    2. Beware of Misinformation

    Social media can quickly be used to share information with diverse audiences.

    According to a recent Pew Research Service study, 86% of U.S. adults said they get their news from a smartphone, so it’s easy to see how information (of all kinds) spreads so quickly.  While it’s extremely useful for sharing crisis communication or other urgent, fact-based messaging, it can also be used as a vehicle for misinformation.

    It is difficult to spot misinformation in social media. Three critical questions must be answered in every post to help people recognize reliable sources.

  • It is posted by who?
    This could be a sign that the information came from an external or internal source.
  • Which information do they share?
    (e.g. does the claim match with research and studies?
  • Was their purpose?
    This could be used to persuade or educate.
  • The use of social media channels by hospitals and other health care systems helps raise awareness and to share information from trustworthy, credible sources (e.g. you website or public health accounts).

    3. Crisis Communication

    In times of crisis, it can be difficult to share and manage public health information. Planning ahead is the best way to deal with a crisis in health.
    Developing a crisis communication plan and healthcare social media calendar that can be executed at a moment’s notice is essential for educating your audience on preparing for the days ahead and what they can expect from your organization (e.g., available resources, locations, hours, etc.).
    You can help your brand build trust and loyalty by taking a proactive approach in dealing with public health crisis and natural disasters.

    4. Community Outreach and Growth

    Public outreach can be made more effective by using a healthcare social media calendar. Health systems and hospitals can create and send notification to new audiences using audience insight based on their demographic information, such as age, gender and interests.

    Use of relevant hashtags and keywords to reach your community outreach message increases your organic reach in social media. You can use keywords and hashtags like nursing home, homecare, arthritis, cancer and stroke to target elderly families.

    5. Answer common questions

    8 out of 10 Internet users search for health information online, with 74% using social media.
    Social media is a great tool for healthcare companies to reach their customers and provide general information. They also keep patients safe and comply with HIPAA. Healthcare professionals may be able to give clear directions on what to do next if someone asks about a recurring earache. For instance, they can direct the patient to search credible sites for information, or contact their primary care provider. Without asking for personal or invasive questions.
    Healthcare marketers are also analyzing their posts’ reach and engagement to determine what posts to share (e.g., copy, infographics, or video), optimal times to post, and when physicians should participate in healthcare forums focused on patient education.

    6. Monitor public health

    People share everything online, including how they’re feeling. Social media allows hospitals and other healthcare providers to monitor health issues and outbreaks across the country, as well as within their communities. Data analysts use hashtag- and keyword-based searches to forecast disease outbreaks, conduct disease surveillance and analyze real-time using social media.
    They can also be used as notification hubs for health providers. Important public health information can be posted instantly on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to notify large audiences. This is done in the hopes of decreasing or preventing new outbreaks.

    7. Patient support

    Social media allows patients to join virtual communities and share information, research materials, moral support, goals, and follow their progress. Your healthcare social media schedule should include pertinent content that is relevant and resonates with the target audience.
    These online connections have been shown to aid in recovery and disease management—not to mention mental health.

    8. Marketing

    Everybody can use social media to connect with their customers.

    Hospitals can boost word-of-mouth referrals by engaging with and interacting on social networks. They also have the opportunity to improve their business-to consumer (B2C), communications and deliver better care.
    These channels also help healthcare marketers understand their audience’s likes, dislikes, needs, and interests, creating a more informed marketing strategy that attracts a high-intent audience and builds brand loyalty.

    A Complete Guide to Creating a Healthcare Social Media Calendar

    Now that you understand why social media marketing is essential for healthcare organizations, let’s develop an effective social media calendar that attracts more patients and delivers results.

  • Plan Ahead

  • How do I create a calendar?

  • Track & Monitor Results

  • Step 1: Plan Ahead

    A detailed source of all your social media posts can help identify the types of content that are working and which aren’t. You can develop timely, relevant, and engaging content and increase interaction rates, but it’s important to lay the groundwork first.

    1. Social media channels: Develop your brand voice

  • Hospitals and healthcare systems must establish a voice for their brand before creating content on social media. This will ensure that your target audience is consistent across all channels. Your brand voice should reflect your company and attract the type of patients you want to foster. It’s also important to note your tone may change slightly across social channels to appeal to different audience demographics, but the brand’s overall voice should remain consistent.

    Facebook can be used to tell stories, but Twitter is more efficient at shortening messages.

  • 2. Identify your social media channels.

  • Do not try to create a healthcare social media schedule that covers every channel. Instead, concentrate on those that help you reach your audience and drive engagement. Below are five key steps.
  • i. Identify your target audience
    ii. Analyze existing traffic sources
    iii. Find out where competitors are sharing content frequently
    iv. Determine your social media objectives
    V. Select 1-2 channels. You can add additional channels, but it is important to engage your audience where they are active.

    3. Pick your preferred content types

    Although there are many types of social media content, the most popular are posts, blogs and articles.Other content types include images, videos and testimonials, links to external material, as well as photos, video, and hyperlinks. You may also find the following content types:

  • Reshare top-performing blogs posts, or create new blog posts
  • Campaigns in Digital Marketing
  • Announcements to the staff
  • New services/treatments/service lines, or service promotions
  • Landing pages, new website or service
  • Measuring organizational milestones
  • Community events 
  • Respect for national health 
  • Get quotes from your doctor and/or medical staff
  • Contact information or updates on hours
  • Information on health protocol changes 
  • Promotions or special offers
  • Below are some suggestions for selecting the appropriate content for your target audience.

  • Identify your audience
    Analyze the social media audience to identify their favorite platform and content type (based on engagement) and most popular topics.
  • Get clear about your goals
    Decide whether your primary focus is increased engagement, web traffic or customer acquisition.
  • i. The best content types will often become apparent once you’ve identified your business objectives. To increase website traffic, for example, you will need to link internally to blogs and thought leadership articles.
    Your content should be influenced by the marketing and communications editorial calendar. It may be necessary to consult with other departments of the hospital or company depending on how your organisation is structured. This will ensure that your healthcare social networking calendar aligns on messaging, branding and voice.

  • Determine your posting cadence
    While frequency and timing are important, it doesn’t go as deep as cadence. Cadence can be more targeted and result in greater engagement. When determining the best cadence for your content campaign, it’s essential to answer these questions:
  • i. I.
    ii. They prefer which social networks?
    iii. Which types of content offer the highest value?
    iv. Do prospects find the content useful?
    Sharing the right content with the right people during the right stage of their buying cycle—and at the optimal time—is key for building a successful social media strategy.

    It is crucial to choose the content you post to build your social media calendar for healthcare. To help you get started, here are two content mix options:
    i. You can divide your content in three categories (the rule to thirds)

  • Promote your company or increase conversions.
  • Use user-generated content and curate it.
  • Your followers will appreciate your personal interactions.
  • ii. Follow the 80-20 rule

  • So that 80 percent of your posts are informative, educational, or entertaining,
  • You can promote your business by using 20% of the posts you create.
  • Make content before it is too late
    Pre-scheduling and creating content will help your business remain relevant. It will also keep your customers interested and return for more. This creates brand recognition and loyalty and builds trust. It also positions your company as an industry leader.

    Your healthcare social media schedule should include National Health Observances. Creating and scheduling this type of content ahead of time ensures you’re posting relevant content your audience wants to engage with throughout the year. For instance, all content related to allergy or asthma should correspond with Allergy Awareness Month in April.

    Below are some additional tips and tricks for healthcare content on popular social media channels.

  • i. Facebook: Share custom content with your friends that promotes engagement, such as click-throughs or shares
    ii. Instagram: Use simple and beautiful images that look like what a friend would post.
    iii. Twitter: Share simple, clear, and relatable information. If necessary, include links to further reading.
    iv. LinkedIn: Share thought leadership content relevant to your industry.

    Step 2: Make Your Calendar

    A comprehensive document that outlines your social media posts for each social channel you’re targeting can quickly identify gaps in content, overlapping content types, or places where your brand voice may falter. It’s time to bring all of your ingenious content ideas together in one place:

  • Pick your calendar tool. 

  • Healthcare Success likes Google Sheets, but you have many options such as Hootsuite and Hubspot. Solo PR Pro is also a great option. Each of these options should be reviewed, along with many others, to help you choose the best one for your specific needs.

  • You can create a tab to view your calendar monthly. 

  • Make a monthly spreadsheet so you can view both weekly and daily topics/posts from one place.

  • Make a tab with your assets and content.

  • Once you have your at-a-glance monthly calendar, it’s time to flesh out your copy, add links to supporting content, and identify graphics.

  • You can add tabs to each social media channel. 

  • You can add a tab to each of the social media channels you intend to use, as well as create audience-specific copy and content. There are many social media channels available, but these ones are most relevant to healthcare audiences.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • You can add columns to your post data. 

  • We recommend that you use the columns below for every social media channel.

  • Published Date
  • Published Time
  • Copy or text to send
  • Link
  • Graphics
  • The character count
  • Keywords/hashtags
  • Offers/CTA
  • Step 3: Track & Monitor Your Results

    Now that you’ve built a strong foundation, it’s time to start posting, testing, tracking, measuring, and improving your strategy. Many social networks offer analytics that you can use to analyze your data.

  • Facebook Audience Insights
  • Instagram Insights
  • Twitter Analytics
  • YouTube Analytics
  • LinkedIn Audience Intelligences
  • These tools can help you identify which content, graphics or type of content your audience is most interested in.

    To avoid any further disappointment, adjust your social media strategy, posts or content regarding healthcare to put more emphasis on the best performing content.
    You can refine your social media strategies by using A/B testing. Splitting your audience into two groups allows A/B testing to allow you to test two different versions of the same post in order to see which one gets more engagement.

    You can test to determine the most effective content formats and post frequency for every social media platform.

    Let’s get to the bottom

    Social media engagement is a challenge for multi-site medical practices and healthcare systems. They must not only comply with HIPAA regulations, but also share unique content frequently. 
    It is here that a social media calendar designed with thought and planning can assist larger brands in sending relevant messages to their target audience. 
    Finally, the social media calendar provides a solid foundation for your business. It allows you to add spontaneity while still supporting your larger objectives.
    Stewart GandolfChief executive officer at Healthcare SuccessStewart Gandolf is the Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success. Healthcare Success is one of America’s most prominent digital and healthcare marketing agencies. Stewart’s experience in marketing and consulting for healthcare companies has been over 1000. These clients range from hospitals and practices to multinational corporations. Stewart speaks at nearly 200 locations across the nation. Stewart, an expert and author, has contributed to many industry magazines, such as the Healthcare Success Insight blog, with over 21,000 subscribers. Stewart also co-authored, “Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business.” Stewart’s career began at one of the most prominent advertising agencies in America, J. Walter Thompson. There he worked with Fortune 500 clients like Wells Fargo or Bally’s Total Fitness.

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