Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter: Healthcare Edition

By Kendall Bair
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Most healthcare leaders know that Twitter can be a useful strategic tool for their organizations to build credibility and increase patient loyalty. But many are still leery about utilizing Twitter and other social networks due to perceived risk. So how do you best navigate Twitter as a healthcare organization? Here are some do’s and don’ts to help guide you:

Do: Engage often.

Consistent engagement with patients, health influencers and health reporters is one of the best ways to grow your Twitter community. Initiate and chime into quality conversations a few times each day to maintain an active presence. An active social media presence directly translates to an increase in the credibility of your organization. If you’re worried about how best to engage and who best to engage with, take the time to develop a social media strategy, response matrix and internal policy. Having a firm understanding of whom you want to engage with and how, will help you create content that is valuable and minimizes your risk.

Don’t: Give health advice or diagnoses, even via direct message.

One of the biggest mistakes a healthcare organization can make is to give health advice or diagnoses on social media. A lot of patients will turn to Twitter in the hopes of receiving immediate health advice. While it could be tempting to answer simple illness or injury questions on Twitter — don’t cave. Providing a misdiagnosis via social media can land your organization is a lot of trouble and you have a responsibility to steer clear of potential lawsuits and liability issues.

Do: Be a thought leader online.

Even though you shouldn’t provide diagnoses on social media, you can still position your organization as a thought leader in the healthcare industry using Twitter. According to American Sentinel University, 41% of people said that social media would affect their choice of a healthcare provider. By sharing groundbreaking research findings, exciting surgery results, notable success stories and timely healthcare news and health tips you can become a go-to source of information for your followers.

Don’t: Use inappropriate humor.

As a healthcare organization you have a special responsibility to ensure that your patients feel safe. Humor that could in any way be considered offensive or insensitive should never make its way onto your Twitter page. Popular memes or trendy references that seem relatively harmless coming from other accounts could be taken much differently coming from a trusted healthcare organization.

Do: Promote your Twitter account.

Some of your most loyal followers may not even be following you yet! Point patients and donors to your Twitter account via your website, brochures in hospitals and doctors’ offices and even periodically on your other social media accounts.

Is your healthcare organization active on Twitter? Tell us how it’s going!

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