Tweets With 280 Characters: How Does This Affect Marketers?
After years of complaints and requests for change, Twitter has finally acquiesced and increased the per-Tweet character minimum to 280. For those of us who have difficulty being concise, this is a godsend. However, how will this affect your Twitter strategy?
Here are some potential benefits for marketers:
- A time saver. The beta testers for the 280-character limit found that they saved time because it took less time to compose Tweets with the higher limit. There was less need for editing to get the message to fit within the character constraints.
- Increased social engagement. The beta testers tweeted more often and increased engagement with the longer Tweets. They also earned more followers. While more followers may mean more time spent on Twitter, it’s arguably a good use of a marketer’s time.
- Improved reputation management. With more characters available, you can give more detailed responses to followers and others who engage with your tweets.
- Better communications. With more characters available, you don’t have to be so cryptic when using Twitter. The grammar Nazis among us will be relieved to see fewer Us for you or 2s for to or too.
Even with twice the characters available, you should still plan to be concise with your tweets. You just have a little more flexibility now.
Are You Ready for a Social Media Crisis?
As social media becomes more ingrained into our lives, it takes on greater importance for everyone – especially organizations and brands. When a crisis occurs, social media becomes a big player in communication efforts. How an organization handles a crisis can have a lasting effect on that organization. Yet, the 3rd Annual State of Digital Healthcare Marketing 2017 and a recent study from Altimeter found that over three-fourths of businesses are not adequately prepared to handle such a crisis.
According to the companies surveyed by Altimeter, those most advanced in social media efforts have four requirements that are included in their social media strategy:
- Have a clear organizational social media policy in place. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is imperative to set standards that are clear to all and to allow employees to participate with social media on a professional basis. This is important even if your organization does not participate in social media. (And if you are not on social media, why not?) Once you establish a policy, don’t forget to review it periodically, at least once a year.
- Invest in adequate resources. The thing about social media is that it’s a 24/7/365 presence. If someone tweets about a problem in your hospital’s ER at 3am on Christmas morning, it needs to be addressed promptly. The longer a complaint/issue on social media goes without response (or without an adequate response, such as United Airlines earlier this year), the more difficult it will be to remedy the situation. While staff can make the initial responses, senior leadership should always be available for backup as needed.
- Provide continuing education. Due to its rapidly-changing nature, those who are responsible for social media at your organization should be provided with updates and learning opportunities on a routine basis.
- Provide a centralized response structure. There should be a defined structure for social media responses, with designated individuals responsible for specific tasks. There should always be a person available who is in charge, and the communication between everyone involved should be simple and seamless.
Does your organization have a social media policy? If so, how often is it reviewed?
Educating Patients Via Social Media
Patients want health information and they have many options for getting it. If you provide the information they’re seeking, that can help to connect your organization with patients. Everyone is on social media these days, so what is the best way to get health information to your patients with social media?
By its nature, social media is more conducive to short, concise chunks of information, so obviously you won’t be sharing the content of entire articles from medical journals. But you can effectively use social media to give your patients the information they want and need. Here are some suggestions:
- Use lists. A list, particularly a bulleted list, is a great way to serve up short-form content. People love lists, as they are easy to read and digest and keep the reader’s attention. A list is also a good basis for repurposing content – each list item can be posted as a social media tip, or even expanded upon for a blog.
- Purpose-driven content. There is no end to health-related awareness campaigns, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October or Heart Month in February. Post information about your relevant service lines during the awareness periods. Schedule campaigns relevant to your services during an awareness observation. Get your providers involved.
- Consider both patients and caregivers. When crafting health information posts for social media, don’t forget that your audience consists of not only patients, but caregivers as well. Caregivers often have a different perspective than the person they’re caring for. Consider pediatric health information, for example. You might have content prepared for a child’s reading level, but you should also have information that relates better to parents as well.
- Use a variety of media. We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Nowhere is this more true than in healthcare. As an example, along with content about radiology procedures, you could post a video tour of your radiology facilities so that patients can see where they’re going and what it will look like.
How does your organization use social media to educate your patients?
Younger Consumers Prefer Online Appointment Scheduling Options
Healthcare providers and marketers have become aware that consumers expect the same sort of digital experience from healthcare organizations as they find in other industries. While healthcare has been slow to catch up to other industries with digital offerings, our industry is making strides toward improvement. A recent survey from Kyruus provides insight into consumer behavior with online provider searches and scheduling.
While most healthcare appointments are still scheduled by phone, more consumers – especially younger ones – prefer online scheduling. With the number of healthcare consumers increasing in the millennial and Gen X demographic groups, this becomes more important for providers.
In the Kyruus survey, 1,000 patients age 18-65 years old were asked about their habits in searching for providers and scheduling appointments. The survey found:
- Primary source for information on new providers:
- 53% of respondents use the internet for provider information.
- 34% use insurance companies for provider information.
- 32% use referrals from friends or family members.
- 32% use referrals from other healthcare providers.
- For respondents using internet searches to find providers:
- 59% used an internet search.
- 42% used their insurance company’s website.
- 38% used a health system’s website.
- For booking appointments:
- 62% preferred booking appointments by phone because they said it’s easier and more personalized.
- 16% preferred booking online through the provider’s website.
- 9% preferred booking through a mobile app or provider search website.
- Demographics of those preferring to book online:
- 24% were Gen X.
- 40% were millennials.
- Almost two-thirds of both Gen X and millennial respondents said they would be willing to change providers for the ability to book online appointments.
Graham Gardner, CEO of Kyruus, said in a statement, “Capturing [the attention of today’s healthcare consumers] requires health systems to take a close look at their ‘digital front doors’ — both how consumers find their websites and what they experience once there — and ensure that their online provider information is both robust and consistent with their offline points of access.”
Routine Website Checks You Should Be Doing
After you’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and resources on getting your website just right, it’s tempting to sit back and relax for a while. But a website is not a “fix it and forget it” kind of thing. It needs your attention on a routine basis.
You should assess your website for these seven things on a monthly basis:
- Check your links. When you redesigned your website, you changed many links, right? Well, so does every other website! Few things are more annoying to a web visitor than clicking on a broken link. If you don’t have a link checker program in use, get one.
- Check and refresh your content. Healthcare information is prone to changes, with so much research going on. Treatments change, new medications are developed, new treatment protocols are put into use, etc. Your health content should be reviewed on a periodic basis, and at least annually. Enlist your clinicians to help with this task. If you license health content from a vendor, confirm that the vendor reviews and updates the content periodically and make sure you apply any changes they make on your site.
- Check all the forms on your site. Is there a bigger turnoff to a new patient than trying to fill out a form that has stopped working? A nonworking form hurts your bottom line. Make sure they are all working.
- Don’t forget your customized hacks and workarounds. Sometimes it’s necessary to be creative when building your site. Be sure to note all improvised or customized hacks and workarounds that you’ve implemented and check them whenever a browser is updated or a new browser becomes available. You may have to update your changes in order to keep your site working smoothly.
- Your backup plan. You DO have one, don’t you? Most likely you have a vendor doing this for you. But if you have a smaller site, you might want to consider doing manual backups.