Internet marketing strategies to build and manage your hospital’s reputation are a complex and challenging task. Hospitals are evaluated and rated by levels of patient satisfaction. So, reputation management demands an intensive proactive online patient engagement.
Let’s face it! We are all increasingly living out our lives online – social media, shopping, comparing, researching and consulting other people’s opinions to make our decisions based on their experiences. The Internet has had a profound effect in the way healthcare businesses operate. But ironically, you may have little or no control over the way people talk about your healthcare practice or hospital online. Reputation is everything in healthcare, as it takes years for any healthcare provider or hospital to build their reputation. It’s difficult to delight every patient who comes to you and receives care through your organization, which leaves you at a vulnerable front of getting negative/biased/false online reviews.
To ensure your hospital stands out from the competition and has a positive digital footprint, a well-designed online reputation management strategy is imperative. Here are a few strategies that can be used for building your hospital’s brand equity:
Be in control of your brand’s search results
Research studies have proven that online forums, review websites and social media content from strangers influences buying decisions more than recommendations from family and friends. The same is the case when people make their health decisions; they thoroughly research their options before making a choice of visiting a hospital. To ensure your hospital stands out in the highly competitive market, be in charge of its online search results. SEO is a great way to appear on the first pages of local search engines. Page results are critical to hospital reputation and brand recognition.
Leverage social media to your advantage
Refine your online marketing efforts by utilizing social media to your advantage. Targeting platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. can help create and develop your brand equity in the vast market of healthcare where patients look for quality services. Create a social media calendar so that you don’t miss posting updates. Think through the patient mind-sets and plan well in advance for your updates. Tools like Hootsuite make this task easier, as you can schedule the posts well ahead of time.
Some strategies that can be explored with social media are:
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
• If you aim to generate traffic to your website and want to increase your online visibility, you can pull unique visitors from social websites by running social media campaigns.
• If you’re looking to increase the number of people who follow you on social media, your metric should be the subscribers and followers on your social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Writing and sharing informative blogs is yet another way to engage people.
• If you want to build brand equity and develop a sense of trust and credibility, you should be very proactive in engaging in conversations/comments/tweets with patients and other readers. Every post about your practice should be handled diligently with an apt response.
Engage in online dialogue
For running successful social media plans, user engagement is the key. Be active on social media and try to respond to major posts by patients and other readers. Just be careful about the patient privacy laws. Responding diligently to what’s being said about you – whether it’s positive or negative – is an important aspect of patient engagement. Your response is seen and observed not only by the person who has commented, but by many others who can be potential patients in the future. If you respond aptly and humbly, it reflects an element of transparency in your practice. It also demonstrates that you care for your patients and want to give them nothing less than the best healthcare services. Further, it opens up positive lines of communication between the patient and physician.
Create spaces for patients to interact with each other
By creating platforms and opportunities for patients and other people to share their experiences, you can getter better online visibility. Hospitals can deploy a team to manage and provide spaces on your website or social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn for blogs/comments or initiate group discussions for people to share their “health success stories.” People who share their experiences about dealing with a specific health condition or disease may serve as an inspiration to those who are going through a rough phase. For instance, a success story of a person who lost weight and changed his lifestyle to healthy living habits to control diabetes and high blood pressure may encourage many others who primarily resort to medications for treatment.
By implementing this simple idea, your hospital can empower patients with knowledge to lead healthier and happier lives. This brings the patients together and helps create supportive communities. The nexus of this trustworthy platform will be your hospital.
A major goal of online marketing for hospitals is to be able to influence patient decisions. With positive social interaction and developing a positive online reputation, they can sow the seeds and reap successful benefits by attracting new patients to their practice.