Leveraging Social Media as a Communication Tool for Pediatric Practices

Social media can be polarizing, but there are many benefits that can be gained from using it as a patient engagement tool in your practice. Having open lines of communication with patients and their families is an important step for practice success, and social media can play a significant role in making this happen.

Pediatric practices have an obligation to care for all patients, not just those that call or visit regularly. By using social media as part of a more robust outreach strategy, providers can proactively communicate with all patients and create more opportunities for connection.

The PediaTricks Social Media Optimization for your Practice podcast features an interview with Sue Kressly, MD, FAAP, and offers some great insights into the benefits of using social media at your practice. Dr. Kressly shares her ideas and strategies for practices looking to better utilize social media with their patients. Here are some of the key takeaways.

How Social Media Can Help Pediatric Practices Connect with their Patients

Pediatric practices have deep connections with their patients and their families, and part of that connection includes being actively engaged outside of the office. Oftentimes, this involves reaching out to people where they spend a great deal of time, or where they’ll be receptive to new messaging. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are great examples of places that provide this setting.

As attention spans shrink, patients and their families may no longer be interested in traditional forms of communication like newsletters and phone messages. Additionally, some of the most vulnerable people in our community may not be actively seeking help, because they may not have the means or resources. To reach people broadly and offer useful forms of assistance, a tool like social media can be quite useful. Remember, even families who may not have an internet connection at home can still find “free” wifi at a library or local business, many who advertise this service on their front doors.

Here are some essential points to consider as you begin to incorporate more social media messaging into your practice’s communication strategy.

Understand push versus pull messaging. Pushing critical and time-sensitive information to families can help offer patients support when they need it most. However, if practices send these messages too often or if they aren’t tailored to the right audience, it can be off-putting. Instead, practices should push critical updates and put less time-sensitive resources in a place where families can reach out and pull them when necessary. A great use of “push” messaging could even entail a post about open appointment slots for those practices that are typically booked out months in advance, but find openings due to last minute cancellations.

Focus on short content. Skimming content is here to stay, especially for busy families juggling all sorts of time commitments. Prioritize short blogs, videos, and podcasts rather than longer content pieces. Parents, tweens, and teen patients prefer short, relevant content that answers their questions without extraneous information.   

Segment your audience correctly. Another great way to help your content reach the right demographic is to segment your audience. This ensures that parents of teens aren’t getting messages more suitable for parents of infants, and vice versa. And don’t forget to include special posts for your older patients, who are quite active on social media.

Embrace your imperfections. Don’t be afraid of getting out there and experimenting with new social media strategies! Often, the imperfect, spur-of-the-moment videos or articles resonate most with patients.

Ask for help from social media experts. Social media is a rapidly-evolving discipline. Practices should leverage the knowledge of a social media expert to help ensure they’re reaching the right audience, using the right platform, and conveying the right message. Together, doctors and social media experts can collaborate on valuable content that provides trustworthy information to patients.

By using social media to provide engaging, relevant content to patients, clinicians can help support the health of both their practice and their community. 

Want to hear our discussion on social media in full? Check out the “Social Media Optimization For Your Practice” podcast to learn more.

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