If your hospital is like most, you have started a Facebook fan page only to wonder how you will increase your fans’ number. Many organizations can quickly get a few hundred fans but find getting a few thousand a challenge. You may also ask yourself, do people want to be fans of a hospital? They will if you give them a reason to, with well-written content that makes them feel connected to your organization.
In the beginning, the goal is to add fans. It’s essential to have relevant, engaging, and—most important—frequently updated posts to attract fans. Sure, anyone can build a fan page in less than ten minutes, and some big hospitals may even attract fans without any real effort. But even if your organization has thousands of fans, if the extent of their involvement with your brand is that at one point they “became a fan,” is that benefiting you?
The fan pages that are doing it right are the ones that are actively engaging with their fans. These pages have creative content, two-way communication, active discussion boards, videos and images, and a fun and casual tone to match the medium. Fans are your product advocates.
Expanding your fan list is like gaining friends in the real world. With social media, every friend is a potential customer. Social media is about building relationships; you have to give to get.
The golden rule is to reciprocate attention, make the other person feel important, and be real and authentic. Acting like an old-fashioned, corporate hospital on Facebook does not win friends and influence people. Like a doctor with a reasonable bedside manner, your organization wants to have a right bedside manner in its presence on Facebook.
This seems like a lot of work, but the payoff can be tremendous. Historically, the rule of thumb has been that one satisfied patient may tell two or three friends, but an unhappy patient will tell eight to ten. Compound that by the Internet’s reach, and you can see why you want to keep happily engaged fans.
To Attract Fans To Your Facebook Page, Always Give More Than You Take, and Follow These Common-sense Guidelines:
1. Update Your Status. Keep it Fresh.
Updates will be fed to your friends’ news feeds. You will want to post at minimum once or twice a week but no more than five or six times a day, as too frequent posts can be annoying. If a visitor encounters only three or four posts and all of them are six months old, the page and the hospital will be seen as out of date. Fewer people will become fans, and there will be missed opportunities.
2. Post Pictures Regularly, and “tag” (identify) Your Friends in These Photos.
Update your photo albums with photographs that will appeal to your friends and the friends of your friends. Your photo albums will be viewable on your friends’ photo tabs, exposing them to a new group of potential friends. Don’t know what to post? Here are some suggestions: * Photos of employees of the hospital’s award-winning cardiac team * Photos of the hospital’s award-winning stroke team * Information on the hospital’s upcoming speakers series * The hospital’s Humanitarian of the Year video * Photos of employees who attended the annual hospital gala
3. Always Respond to Posts to Your Posts.
If you don’t, you are ignoring your friends. Respond to disgruntled patients first via social media; if that doesn’t solve the problem, send a direct message, or make a personal call to them. A confident hospital will be able to accept both positive and negative comments on its brand. Keep in mind that responding to negative comments makes you look more real, responsive, and caring. You can engage your fans by asking them a question and participating in the conversation. Ask fans to upload the video to support your mission. A good example is Winter Park (FL) Memorial Hospital’s The Baby Place (www.facebook.com/wpbabyplace), where new moms are encouraged to upload photos of babies born at the hospital.
4. Create Events.
When fans, friends, and group members RSVP, their news feeds will notify their friends. You can post classes, workshops, or events in which your hospital is participating. When creating an event, send an update to your friends to get a notice in their Facebook email inboxes.
5. Post Messages in Industry-related Groups and Other Fan Pages.
Leverage your partners. There are groups for every disease and cause and plenty of mommy groups for hospitals that deliver babies. Make these partners part of your “Favorite Pages” section. Ask them to do the same for your fan page.
6. Review Your Fans’ and Friends’ Status Updates.
Commenting on their status changes keeps your profile relevant and makes your friends feel important. Their friends will see you and may decide to friend you. Sometimes it’s as easy as clicking the “Like” link.
7. Check News Feeds.
Look for news items you can comment on and showcase your expertise. Caution: Be careful that your comments are relevant and don’t come off as pretentious or promotional.
8. Acknowledge Birthdays.
A little recognition goes a long way. This small act of kindness will fill your “good karma” tank, and it will show up on your friends’ walls.
9. Add Friends Continually.
Facebook does a fantastic job of suggesting friends whom you may know. Capitalize on this list. Also, upload your email databases, and invite your current contacts to join. Usually, about 30 percent of your friends will agree to “fan up” your fan page. Employees “Fan Up” Hospital’s Fan Page When Waterbury (CT) Hospital made a recent effort to enlist fans on its Facebook page, the initiative met with a wave of enthusiasm from employees, their friends, and family members, who expanded the hospital’s fan base by hundreds in just a couple of weeks. Employees were encouraged to sign up on laptops during two sign-up sessions outside the cafeteria. The 500th fan to officially sign up on the page was given a special Valentine’s Day gift basket full of sweets and other goodies. Today Waterbury Hospital has 670 fans.
10. Maximize Exposure in Your Outside Marketing.
Post your Facebook URL on your blog, in your newsletters, in your hospital welcome packets, and on tent cards in waiting rooms. Please put it on your billboard, TV, and print ads. Try launching a Facebook ad that can be targeted by zip code and other targeting factors. Sometimes no matter what you do, your Facebook page won’t grow. This can be a side effect of Facebook’s demographic.
Understanding the demographic can help you decide if Facebook is worth it for your organization. However, keep in mind that Facebook’s demographics are changing quickly. Women over 55 are among the fastest-growing groups, so be sure to keep checking up on demographic changes over time. As Facebook changes, your campaigns may need to change with it for maximum effect.
Creating a Facebook fan page is simple, but getting it to work well takes time, dedication, and planning. Don’t expect to create a page and have a huge following instantaneously. Build good content, make it easy to share, and let people know about it, and over time the community will grow.
The Key Takeaways:
Know your audience, provide quality content regularly, encourage discussion and engagement—and don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun!
- When you have 25 or more fans, go to www.facebook.com/usernames and pick a custom URL for your fan page, so you have a direct, personalized link to it. Example: www.facebook.com/refinedinfo.
- Tagging your friends in a status update or any other post to your profile is easy. In the publisher, use the @ sign and begin typing your friend’s name. Facebook lets users tag their friends and Facebook pages they’ve become fans of and events they are attending. After the person, event, or page you want to tag is clicked on, the object will automatically be hyperlinked in your status update. Although this process is pretty evident for Twitter users, many Facebook users haven’t yet figured out how to take advantage of this feature.
- Go to www.facebook.com/facebook-widgets/ and get a profile, photo, like, or page badge. Use the HTML code to post your fan page widget on several places, such as a blog, a website, or even your email signature.
- Always have more than one admin on your account just in case. If an employee leaves your organization, you still have control of your page.
- Use http:/bit.ly or http://tinyurl.com (or another URL shortener) to find out how much traffic your social media efforts generate.
About The Author –
ESage Digital a Social Media Marketing Company in Jaipur, India, which helps Small to Medium Businesses to grow, develop, and succeed. Get in touch to grow your business.