15 Easy Ways to Leverage Healthcare Social Media

Healthcare social media activity and opportunities are growing fast and furious, and if you’re interested in this space and still not taking part, there’s no better time to begin than now!  Following are 15 easy, fast and simple ways you (or your organization) can effectively take part in the great conversations happening online about healthcare, health technology and more.

  1. Take part in a Twitter chat.  Why, you ask?  Because there’s no easier, faster and more fun way to connect with other folks playing in your space than via Twitter chats. Not sure where to start? Check out this incredible list of popular healthcare Twitter chats, by hashtag and date according to calendar.
  2. Like your hospital.  Or another hospital or healthcare organization with an impressive Facebook page.  Learning by example is as easy as a click when you can learn from folks like Swedish Medical Center and Mass General.  Here is an interactive map with a list of U.S. hospitals with Facebook accounts.
  3. Post a comment.  Yes, this counts as “social” media.  Find a healthcare blog that you love and instead of finishing every post with a silent “Amen” to yourself, post a comment articulating what you found useful about that piece and/or tactfully, respectfully, argue your own POV.  Don’t forget to sign off with your name, Twitter handle and if commenting on behalf of the Company, your employer.  Just make sure you have their permission first!
  4. Connect with someone you admire.  LinkedIn should be used primarily to connect with people you a) have met in real life or b) know somehow offline.  However, it’s OK to identify those folks in your industry whom you admire and to reach out and tell them so.  If you’re going to connect with someone you don’t know personally, do make sure to include a note about why you think you have business goals in common and/or perceive them as a potential peer.  Try this approach right before the next conference you attend, suggesting a meet ‘n’ greet or quick coffee run while you’re both there.
  5. Answer a LinkedIn question.  Did you know that if you respond to another person’s LinkedIn question, on a healthcare-related topic, that person can then assign you a badge as a “healthcare” expert?  Just go to “LinkedIn Q&A” and search health for conversation threads to take part in.
  6. Update your email signature. Make sure it includes a link to your social aliases and/or blog.  And if you’ve already checked the box on this one, congrats!
  7. Tweet live.  If you’re already attending a major healthcare conference – like HIMSS12 in February, which my colleagues and I will be at – or networking event, find the relevant hashtag and tweet a few times from the event.  Try to capture the most insightful nuggets and prepare to be amazed at the new connections you make as a result.
  8. Subscribe to the blogosphere.  Identify three new health blogs and subscribe via the RSS feed.  This way, new content is pushed to you instead of you having to find bookmarks and go and search.
  9. Join a Google+ Circle.  The leaders in healthcare social media are naturally the first embracing Google+.  Folks such as health IT evangelist Brian Ahier are already actively posting.  Sign up, follow along and above all, share/engage with multimedia as much as possible.  Google+ is more about picture and video than short posts.
  10. Post a LinkedIn poll.  In a group, members can now post their own polls.  Join a public group such as #HCSM (Health Communications & Social Media) and poll members for a fun, easy way to engage them and maybe even answer your most pressing industry-specific questions.
  11. Make the most of Timeline.  The new Facebook Timeline pages are a great way to tell a story and showcase yourself/your brand.  Use your cover photo as an opportunity to showcase your organization and/or your commitment to health.  Your “info” is also less buried in Timeline, so make sure to spruce it up and include any contact information or resource links you’d like folks to have on-hand.  Don’t forget to include links to your other social channels!
  12. Check in.  To your morning run, your dentist, that super cool healthcare event you’ve been gearing up for – because it’s a good way to find relevant folks in your vicinity, and a way to “spread healthy behavior” when your sharing lifestyle choices such as a run. I’m not making this up – social networks can spread healthy behaviors.  So, lead by example. J
  13. Subscribe to a YouTube Channel.  Mayo Clinic’s is a wonderful example of a robust, content-heavy channel with spotlights on their staff and capabilities across most if not all of the specialties they touch.  They even have a weekly medical news stream!  A-mazing.
  14. Don’t be afraid of the “new kids.” Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest… new niche social sites never scream healthcare until innovators start using it for that purpose.  Embrace one new social site – for example, Instagram – and play around with it to determine the value from a healthcare perspective.  For example, several media brands are sharing behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram.  Should hospitals be on there, too, as a means to reach their communities?
  15. Think mobile.  Healthcare apps show no sign of slowing down and any website not optimized for mobile is losing users fast.  In order to get in this mindset, why not download a few healthcare apps yourself?  Here’s a solid short list of health apps targeted to consumers.

What are some other quick and easy ways you’ve been able to take advantage of healthcare social media?  What’s your favorite social platform for learning more about and engaging with health content and other folks in the space?

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