At some point, everyone finds themselves with a friend or loved one who has been hospitalized, and that’s when a connection to that healthcare provider becomes the most important thing in the world.
That’s where social media comes in. A 2018 survey from Pew Research found that most American adults make regular use of social media platforms for news, information, and communication. By maintaining a presence on platforms that people are using anyway, hospitals can make their lives easier and reduce stress levels in what is almost always a very stressful situation.
As healthcare professionals, nurses should be very happy knowing the hospital they work for is using social media.
But it’s not enough to just have a strong social media presence. Anyone can set up an Instagram account. Keeping it up to date, responding to questions and comments quickly, and making it engaging and interesting enough to hold people’s attention is another story.
That’s why we’ve gone to the trouble of reviewing hospital social media accounts and ranking top providers on how they use these platforms to keep patients, families and faculty connected. We wanted to recognize the ones who have put time and effort into their social media presence and made it a resource that people can rely on.
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Social media is a tricky business. Getting it right takes a special blend of humor, tact, attentiveness, and writing skills that can be hard to find.
Even more difficult is doing it well across multiple platforms. The skills that make a great YouTuber aren’t necessarily the same ones that make a power Tweeter.
The top hospitals on our list have figured out the tricks and put the right social media teams together to cover all the angles on the diverse platforms that are available today.
We assessed them by looking at each of those platforms individually, scoring their effectiveness, and then adding the total score (with a maximum of 100 points possible) to establish the ranking. How we handled scoring for each individual social media platform is detailed below.
Facebook is the single largest social media platform in the United States and 68 percent of U.S. adults have an account. We give hospitals up to 25 points for effective use of the platform, distributed equally between their numbers of likes and followers… both significant signs of engagement.
Twitter offers a more contained, short-form brand of social networking that lends itself to announcements and informational updates. It’s quick and effective at these tasks, but the direct messaging feature built into the platform has also lead to an increasing use as a customer service system recently. We offered up to 25 points to hospitals based on their number of tweets and number of followers.
With 73 percent of American adults reporting that they use YouTube regularly, we also award up to 25 points for the number of subscribers, videos, and views hospitals have acquired on this platform. But despite the higher percentage of users, YouTube often has lower engagement numbers than other social media systems. It serves best as a platform for distributing information or education. Hospitals that are most effective in those roles tend to have the highest scores.
There’s another angle to social networking that happens well outside the public eye but is of immediate concern to APRNs and other medical professionals: the hospital as an employer. From getting hired to getting connected to other staff in other departments, LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice for keeping professional connections alive. Hospitals that are taking care of their staff here can get up to 5 points based on their number of followers.
Google can’t quite decide if it wants to be serious about social media or if it’s content to leave the field to Facebook, but the Google Plus platform is heavily integrated into the conglomerate’s other major services. That means a lot of people end up using it by default. With some key features that Facebook can’t match, such as improved search, integrated video chat and e-mail and better interaction management, Plus just hits the right spot for some people. We give 5 points to hospitals who have managed to figure it out!
Pinterest is a different kind of social media experience, one geared toward visual people. By pinning up pictures and links relevant to the hospital’s mission and the interests of patients and staff, a hospital can get up to 5 points for maintaining a presence here.
Snapchat can get a hospital another 5 points just for showing up. It’s a hard platform for the average business to use effectively, since, by design, content is supposed to evaporate after a limited amount of time. Still, 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, so hospitals that hope to connect with the younger generation need a presence there.
Instagram is probably the most popular photo-sharing social media site and it is worth up to 5 points based on the total number of photos posted. Hospitals have made great use of this to humanize staff and show how patients are taken care of, information that is of great value to families and friends.
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