Healthcare News & Insights

What makes a successful Facebook page for hospitals?

Is your healthcare organization considering using social media for marketing and patient outreach? If so, here’s one of the biggest keys for the project’s success: 

Make sure enough time is invested in maintaining a social media presence. That’s the message in a study presented at the recent Medicine 2.0 Congress held in Boston.

Social networking is a valuable tool for healthcare organizations that can be used to reach potential patients. More people are turning to social networks to search for medical information, and in one recent survey, 41% of patients said that what they find on those sites will affect their choice of doctor.

Offering valuable information on social networks is one way organizations can engage those people and increase their revenue and brand recognition. But what are the keys to a successful social networking campaign for healthcare organizations?

The biggest factors affecting the popularity of a hospital’s Facebook page, according to a recent study conducted by Ricky Leung, PhD, assistant professor of health management and informatics at University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, are the size of the hospital, time invested and the types of posts.

Lueng looked at the social media activities of 120 Missouri hospitals and found an increasing number of organizations creating a Facebook presence. In February of 2011, 39% of the hospitals sampled had a Facebook page. That number jumped to 47% just seven months later. The pages also became more active, with the average number of “likes” for each profile increasing from 181 to 1,321 in that same time period.

Three primary factors affected how popular those hospital Facebook pages were. The first is the size of the organization, which makes sense — bigger hospitals have more patients and therefore generate more activity. However, Lueng found that the amount of time invested in maintaining the page had a big impact as well.

Also, the types of posts made had a big impact — posts with a positive message were more likely to be shared and therefore generate more subscribers. For example, birth announcements were a popular type of post for the hospitals sampled. Those announcements can be combined with educational posts to engage and attract patients.

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