Social media tips for General practices.
There are many articles to explain how to use social media as a business. However, medical practices, particularly those in the UK have different needs that are not often met by marketing articles on how to use social media.
This article covers why you may want to use social media for your medical practice and how to use various platforms effectively.
Why should I use social media for my practice?
Social media is a great way to engage with populations. Over 65% of the UK population has a social media account. Over 80% of the population uses Google to find information. With growing numbers of people going online, social media and better engagement online may help deliver better and more effective healthcare.
What benefits can social media bring to my practice?
Using social media can help build a community around your practice. Younger populations are often seen as significant users of social media and engaging with them may allow better service delivery to your local population.
By having a presence a practice can claim its healthcare authority for the local population and help foster guided access to services. If a practice maintains its channels it can also help prevent other people, companies or patients from maintaining false profiles against a practice.
Using campaigns to deliver health awareness and also myth bust, can enable practices to support their local population better and may reduce unnecessary workload.
Social media can also provide a method of contact outside of normal channels. This can be useful i.e. when systems crash or during cyber hacks.
Finally, social media can be a rapid way of notifying your local population of key events and changes such as flu campaigns or practice closures.
What challenges are there in using social media as a practice?
While there are many benefits there are challenges.
First and foremost is time. Many practices and staff will rightly point out it takes time to build a social media profile and to maintain it. This post will hopefully show the benefit from that time investment but also how to save time in doing so.
Similarly, starting a social media profile and maintaining it is a skill, one not taught in medical school. In this post, I will share some of those skills and tips on how to make it even easier. Also, remember that it does not (And often shouldn’t be) the GP that manages the social media profile of a GP practice, but instead a practice-wide effort, which could help develop an enthusiastic team.
One concern is about data privacy and confidentiality. This is an appropriate concern but one that can be managed with sensible protocols and guidance.
Social Media Guidance
There are various social media guidance rules for medical professionals. In fact, even the GMC recommends engaging with social media. However, to do so safely can seem daunting. For this reason, I recommend my pre-SCRIBE method of approaching your social media use.
Read more here but in brief:
Tips for GP practices in using social media
In this article, I cover a few tips on using social media by practices. Or watch the video below which includes links to my social media policy for patients and how to get my list of template answers.
Additionally, if you want to keep safe online it is important to check your privacy settings on a regular basis. This video will show you have to check yours on various platforms.
What resources can help me with social media for my practice?
There are various tools to consider. These can be split into media tools, idea tools, and sharing tools.
Media tools for social media use by practices
Having images to help in your posts can really boost engagement. Creating your own images and videos can be really time-consuming so many use images from the web like Google Images. However, it is important to remember the copyright issues of using images that are not your own can lead to problems, particularly for businesses like a GP practice.
A simple answer is to use images and media with no copyright restrictions. While Google Images can provide this function, my preference is a combination of Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash.
Each of these provides stock royalty-free images that you can use with good effect.
To engage with social media effectively, having great individuals images can help. An easy recommendation is Canva.
Canva is an effective online graphics editor that is simple to use and really can really enhance your posts. Almost all of the media used in eGPlearning including our thumbnails are made in Canva. Being web-based means not software issues and it automatically saves as you work. Best yet the free version is diverse with lots of tools including free integration with Pixabay and Pexels!
Idea tools for social media use by practices
There are many places you can get ideas for posts.
Campaigns by many local communities and companies are often good options so speak with your local collaborators. In particular, the local media outlets are a valuable resource.
For national and international campaigns a great resource is awareness days. This website offers all the upcoming campaign days, weeks and months that you may want to promote. If you sign up they will even snd you an integrated calendar you can use with details such as websites, hashtags and more.
Finally, feel free to use the information shared by my practice Wellspring Surgery.
Sharing tools for social media use by practices
There are a variety of tools that you can use to save your time when it comes to posting on social media. Each platform has its methods but often the desktop version offers more options.
If you are only using Twitter, then the best tool to use is Tweetdeck. This is a free tool provided by Twitter that allows you to manage multiple accounts, monitor your own feeds and comments about you, and schedule posts quickly and effectively.
If you are after a free tool that will allow you to post quickly to multiple platforms like Facebook and Twitter then Crowdfire is a simple and effective platform that offers all a practice needs to post to these two platforms and save time. There is, however, a small limit on the number of posts you can schedule.
Publbox allows posting to most platforms but especially Twitter, Facebook, and Google My Business. It provides a calendar function, content ideas (although limited in healthcare) and direct integration with Pixabay and Unsplash for stock images. This tool has saved me time and especially at its annual plan when on offer is a great value.
I feel using social media can really help a practice and I hope this post has helped you feel you can take that step or enhance how you are using social media.
If you have further questions contact me as below
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