The skilled nursing industry has been overwhelmed with challenges in this pandemic, including trying to maintain a census.
Renewal’s Yitz Rubin spoke with Wendy Margolin, owner of Sparkr Marketing, about ways SNFs can use social media to reach more potential patients.
Margolin says, “One thing I’ve seen with all my healthcare clients is that those businesses who had a stronger online presence before the pandemic are having an easier time reaching their audience now that people are more isolated, and there are fewer word-of-mouth opportunities.”
Those companies with a strong marketing strategy, an email list, and an audience are in the best position to be able to figure out what to do, now that everything’s changed, adds Margolin.
“You have a way to contact your prospective patients and past patients and let them know the ways that you are continuing to serve your community,” says Margolin.
Margolin cites one example of a SNF client who offers monthly free meals to seniors in the community. By promoting that program, they’re telling their entire ideal audience that they are still here, serving the community and solving a specific problem these seniors have.
“Then, all of a sudden, you’re not just saying, ‘Hey, help us fill our census.’ But you’re reminding them, ‘We’re here for you, and we’re helping you in ways that you haven’t even considered.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY IN RECENT YEARS
It wasn’t long ago that it was easy to reach your ideal target audience with organic content on social media. Launch a page, post photos and company news, and people would see it and follow you.
Now social media is a crowded space where you have to compete to even reach the followers who already liked your page. The old strategy of posting happy employees celebrating an office birthday no longer reaches anyone.
“This challenge doesn’t mean you should give up as a business trying to reach your audience on social media. There is still enormous opportunity even for new businesses to be able to directly target your perfect customer or client anywhere in the world,” says Margolin
What this means for healthcare providers is that your content marketing has to be focused entirely on your audience. You have to identify your ideal patient, understand their pain points, and then create content to show how you can solve that problem.
Margolin offers a few tips for SNFs to use social media in 2020 and beyond.
FOLLOWING ARE 8 WAYS HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS CAN EFFECTIVELY USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO REACH THEIR AUDIENCE
Plan your strategy: Key to effectively using social media for any business is having a strategy. Plan a year-long content calendar with content themes that will allow you to promote your healthcare business by building brand authority.
Know your ideal patient: Once you identify your ideal patient, it’s a good idea to have that one person and their family in mind every time you post something to social media. When you create content with one person in mind, it’s more likely to resonate with everyone else who can benefit from your services.
Provide value: The best kind of content on social media provides immediate value to your ideal patients. For a skilled nursing home, for example, this could mean that you’re answering questions about how to deal with various challenges that come with aging.
If you’re constantly providing helpful information, your ideal patients are going to get to know and trust you. Then, when it comes time for them to need a referral from a hospital caseworker, they already trust you. They’ll choose your facility over another one in the area.
Be social: It seems obvious, but businesses often forget that social media is first and foremost a social space. That means that you want to encourage followers to answer a question or leave a comment on your post. Social media platforms will only show your content to your followers when this happens. The posts that start conversations are the ones that get seen.
For example, ask your audience what should be on your menu for Thanksgiving dinner: mashed potatoes or sweet potato pie. Show off your new coffee bar and then ask your audience how many cups they drink a day or if they like coffee black or with milk. They’ll respond, and more people will see that post.
It also helps if you celebrate your patients when they hit milestones or are discharged. Everyone who knows them will comment, as well as others who are just happy to see a positive outcome.
Spend time on branding: Visual images, especially if your company is using Instagram, are more important in social media today. You want to make sure your images reflect the quality content users typically see on any particular social media platform. A great, free tool for branding social media content is Canva.
Assign an ambassador: Most healthcare providers have a lot of team members who actively use social media. Pull together one person or even a group to be a social media ambassador in the facility. These people can take photos and videos to capture day-to-day activity.
Create Stories and videos: Video and short clips for Stories performs better on all the social media channels, so be sure to post them. The good news is that the best videos on social media are simply selfie videos from an iPhone, so there’s no need to spend time and money on highly produced professional videos.
Target your audience with ads: Once you create organic content that gets likes and comments, put money behind those posts so that more ideal people in your audience see it. Even with a budget as low as $5 a day, you can target people by age, zip code and interests. This helps your page grow and ensures more people see the content you’re creating.
Social media takes time and money, and it no doubt can be challenging and even frustrating at times. But, it helps to recall the way businesses used to have to reach their ideal patients by spending thousands on print ads without ever knowing if anyone saw them. Now, you have immediate access to your exact target audience.
Show up and make sure they know you’re there to help.