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5 Key Tactics to help Engage Your Patients with Social Media

Nov 25, 2014 12:01PM ● By MED Magazine

According to IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, around 70% of adults use the internet to find information about their healthcare. At the same time, 42% of adults use social media to find out about a healthcare issue.  With constant changes in healthcare, social media provides physicians a culturally relevant way to connect with their patients.

However, according to Lee Aise, Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, "Physicians and other healthcare providers have been relatively slower to become involved, often because of fears or misunderstanding about what is appropriate. Physician and hospital involvement in social media can contribute to constructive online engagement."  

There is no reason to fear using social media.  Here are five tactics that will help healthcare professionals to engage with patients.

1) Use content that informs and educates. Don’t be afraid to share interesting facts about medicine.  Concerns arise about how professionals should contribute and interact on social media.  To start the dialogue, consider the questions a doctor’s patients ask throughout the day.  As a foundation, build on those commonly-asked questions and offer solutions or share industry-trusted resources.

2) Be genuine. Do not lecture or “sell” to your followers or friends.  Social media is a marketplace of ideas where informed and interested individuals, eager for more information, get their questions answered.  Be open to this dialogue with patients. Just be sure to communicate with authenticity and honesty.

3) Ask questions.  Collaborating with patients allows them to contribute and be part of their healthcare decisions.  Granting opportunities for patients to ask questions opens the door to a whole new level of trust and credibility.  Question and answer platforms on social media can also give healthcare professionals insight into ways they might their own practices.  The gesture also demonstrates that they are open to having these conversations and care about their patients’ engagement.

4) Use graphics, links and videos.  Using visually stimulating content like graphics and/or videos will add value to the dialogue.  Statistics show that using these tools helps encourage the engagement of patients, making them more likely to share a comment.  According to Joe Girard, a leader in social marketing, videos get 267% more clicks than straight content posts.

5) Be relevant to your local demographic.  Yes, social media removes all borders and connects individuals across the globe, but healthcare professionals should focus on their region and the primary concerns that directly affect those patients.  This helps build relationships and credibility.


Social media is becoming a cornerstone of communication for patient engagement. Practitioners open the door of collaboration with patients when they put valuable knowledge at their fingertips.  The above are simple tactics that will surely add value to meeting your patients’ needs. Consider them as the foundation for a strong social media plan.  


Kimberly Martinez is the Marketing Director and Jeffrey Nasers is Public Relations and Content Strategist at 724 Factory, a Medical Branding and Marketing company based in Sioux Falls.