Read up on why a hospital really does need a Twitter handle

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Before Twitter, most hospitals connected to potential patients through direct mail marketing, newsletters, press releases and fundraisers.  While each of those items is still important to a hospital’s integrated marketing scheme, many hospitals and other health care organizations have also found success using tools created for the digital age.

Your hospital already has a Facebook page, and has thousands of Facebook members as fans.  Many of them are partners within your community, people who’ve lived to see another day due to the hospital’s services, and the physicians that comprise your hospital’s team.   It also also has a website, chock full of relevant information and designed using state of the art concepts for search marketing, which ensures that when people Google your hospital, they can find everything they need.

So, do you really need to be on Twitter?

In a word, no.  But will being on Twitter help your hospital’s business?  You betcha.

“Need” implies a basic, fundamental state of being.  Your hospital will probably survive without a Twitter handle.  People fall ill all of the time, and with a baby boomer population nearing elderly age, there’s going to be a constant need for the services of educated people who can treat all types of ailments.

But, is it a good idea for your hospital to be on Twitter?  That’s another question.

Twitter helps people and businesses connect in ways that were impossible before the 140-characters-or-less application disrupted the way people communicate online.
 Twitter corners an area of the market that Facebook doesn’t – it’s a real-time stream of happenings, thoughts and ideas.  With Twitter, it’s easy for brands to follow companies that are of interest to them, and garner followers.

While we’re on the subject, follow us on Twitter. And Facebook. And Instagram. We’re pretty social.

If you’re considering incorporating Twitter into your hospital’s marketing strategy in 2013, here are some tips to help you get the maximum impact:

Use it to Share Information:  If you see an article about a new radiology treatment that might be interesting to your patients, don’t hesitate to share.  Or, if your hospital is mentioned for its service or expertise, be sure to retweet, which serves as a testimonial to your team.  Doing these things will establish you as a leading healthcare services provider within your field.

Get Input from Followers:  If you’re seeking honest opinions, Twitter is the place to go.  People tend to censor themselves less on the internet than they might in real life, so it’s essential that if you’re trying to elicit quantitative information, you do so in a way that doesn’t cause any backlash.  Asking for opinions on controversial subjects will hurt your hospital’s reputation.

Brag a Little: Was one of your physicians nominated for an award?  Was your hospital ranked the best in your region?  Items like this are brag-worthy, and you can post Tweets alongside press releases and Facebook status updates.  Many internet users prefer Twitter to Facebook because of it’s quick and efficient design, meaning that you may miss a large section of your existing segment if you fail to post to Twitter.

Interact With Others:  Twitter is great way for you to reach out to your subscribers, but it’s also a terrific way for them to reach out to you.  People may have informal questions pertaining to new hours for specialty units, or may want to know where they can park nearby.  Responding to a Tweet can help build rapport and trust between you and your patient, and will keep that person coming back because she knows your team is committed to providing impeccable service.

Even if you don’t think you need to have a Twitter account for your hospital marketing efforts, the platform offers yet another way to connect with your audience.  At our Florida advertising agency, we can help your team develop an integrated social media strategy that includes creating and maintaining an active Twitter account.  Don’t worry – we’ve got a handle on it!

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