Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The power of social media in healthcare is inexhaustible - here are a few reasons why NHS organisations should be getting social on twitter and a few steps you can take towards your first tweet.
Twitter: Essential to your social media strategy
It was reported by TIME magazine in September of this year (2011) that Twitter has 100 million active users.
The daily average number of tweets was also reported to be in the realm of 230 million—up 110% since January 2011.
Using Twitter to implement your social media strategy is easy – the ability to share healthcare information is inexhaustible. Combine your online strategy and place/purpose in the NHS with honest conversation and relevant chatter – time to get social.
What’s happening while you are not tweeting?
Online conversation of patients, staff and nearby trusts occurs whether you are listening or not.
Twitter is a real time exchange of dialogue within a networked community – how can you contribute to your community when you are not engaging with them?
Tweets, trends and @mentions are something which on and offline organisations – including the NHS - can no longer afford to ignore.
Get started with Twitter
*Tweet – 140 characters. Keep it social, short and sharp.
*Retweet – regurgitate tweets that engage your followers and are relevant to your organisation/cause/campaign. Echo your organisations/campaigns, purpose and interests. Share it with your network.
*@mentions – tag your followers in a tweet. Direct tweets towards someone already listening. Ask questions. Manage conversation. Create Chatter. Build a network.
*#tags - create and follow trends on Twitter. #tags are meta data that connect tweets and birth trends across the Twitter platform #tags can brand a campaign and connect online champions – they can also be used for events and live twitter chats.
*#FF – Follow Friday. It’s nice to be liked. Build a network of like minded organisations and individuals with a digital salute.
Twitter is a tool which is savvy and an enabler of community, embrace this and your community will embrace you. So...
*Follow - check out those that follow you, provide timely responses, participate in conversations – what is going on locally?
*Keep it social – Has the Trust received an award? Have opening times to the clinic changed? Are staff administering flu jabs at a certain time and date? Talk about it. Let staff and patients know what is going on – even in real time.
*Keep it sweet – beware of language. Create a persona, be warm, be human.
*Build interest – promote with re-tweets of your followers. Invest time and effort to build a conversation and a relevant network.
*Plan - a content strategy will help focus your efforts on publishing content of value in a timely and relevant way.
*Location – add location data to tweets, push local healthcare information and news. Mobile usage of twitter means you can reach those listening for locations in real time. Location #tags can also be used in posts - #Leeds #London #Nottingham – this can be picked up by local press and individual users on twitter searching for these terms.
*Analytics– third party tools for your twitter strategy. Keep an eye on your metrics.
*Trends - Twitter is always on, make sure you have someone to monitor conversations, competitors and trends.
Entice your followers with relevant and local information, link to your website, release news and press releases, provide topics for conversation, get to know your network and execute searches. Dig in. Join in.
Third party tools for you and your twitter strategy:
For more information about using social media within the NHS then follow @nhssm* – and check out their blog
*there is a live chat at 8pm UK time usually on a Wednesday using hastag #nhssm where discussion around the topic of social media and the NHS occurs – join in or hang back and learn more about social media in the NHS.