Avoid the 7 “Deadly Sins” of Social Media

 In Competing in a Crowded Market, Preparing for the Future

People of all ages use social media platforms to connect with friends and family, share information and read news and other content. Millions of Americans who may be scrolling through social media feeds are also online searching for health-related information. This is a huge opportunity for healthcare providers, including providers of senior health services, such as seniors housing communities, home health, skilled nursing facilities, palliative care and hospice. Utilize the power of social media to engage family caregivers in meaningful ways that are valuable to them.

Social media cannot operate in isolation. It needs to be an extension of your marketing efforts to perpetuate your brand and engage your target audiences. Approach it with purpose and intent. Here are our recommendations for approaching social media strategically. We’re presenting it from the perspective of “what not to do.” Avoid these seven “deadly sins” of social media.

  1. Lack of planning
    Don’t be out there without a plan. First, create a plan that begins with how you intend to represent your brand on the various social media sites. What graphic elements do you use as a profile image and a banner graphic? Does the “About” or “Bio” section reflect who you are and what you do, or your positioning, succinctly? Then, determine which social media channel(s) you’ll use to reach your target audience. Next, determine the types of content you want to share on each platform. Social media platforms have different purposes. Make sure your content aligns with the format for the platform. Finally, create goals to measure success.
  2. Shotgunning every platform
    Don’t have an account on every social media site. Just because channels are popular doesn’t mean your organization should have a presence. Instead, consider the appropriate social media channel(s) to reach your target audience. The target audience most healthcare providers want to reach is the family healthcare decision maker, which most often means women age 45+. What platform(s) are they active on regularly? With 69% of adults using Facebook, this is likely to be one of the best ways to reach them. According to demographic data on Sprout Social, Instagram and Twitter users skew younger in age.
  3. Too much content focused on you
    Don’t post content just to post content. Within your plan, you’ve already documented the types of content you want to share on each social media site. Much of the content you post should benefit your followers. As novelist Margaret Atwood once said, “Social media is called social media for a reason. It lends itself to sharing than horn-tooting.” Share information that your followers would value, such as resources for caregivers, tips for caring for a loved one at home, or factors to consider when it’s time to think about a senior living community for a loved one, and so on. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through informative content. Regularly providing followers with content they find valuable will position you as their go-to resource. The goal is for your organization to be top-of-mind when the need for senior living, home care, skilled care or hospice arises.
  4. Omitting appealing images and videos
    Don’t leave it only to text to tell your story. As a writer, that stings a little bit! But seriously, photos, graphics and infographics support words to create compelling content on social media. Michael Patterson, a digital marketing at Spout Social, said, “Visuals are no longer a nicety; they’re an essential, core component of a successful social media strategy.” In addition to static images, incorporate gifs and videos into your digital library. According to Small Biz Trends, “Social video generates 12 times the shares than text and images combined.” And, “Companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users.”
  5. Ignoring your followers
    Don’t view social media as a one-way street to communicate with followers. Engaging with followers is key. Respond to all comments, replies or retweets. Another way to engage with your followers is to invite their input. Pose questions, for example. Consider a Facebook post that begins with information about the importance of caregivers taking time for themselves then asks, “If you care for a loved one, what are some of the things you do to take care of yourself?” The answers could provide a wealth of ideas for content to create for future posts.
  6. Infrequent or far too frequent posts
    Don’t post content once in a blue moon or every other minute. Posting content on a steady basis is key. You want to provide value to your audience without driving them away because you post too frequently. As a general rule for organizations with less than 10,000 followers, it’s best to post content for Facebook and Instagram once per day. According to Social Report, a social media management platform, the best way to determine how often to post content is to test and try. “On each social media network you have a presence, test out different posting frequencies each day, each week, and see what kind of engagement you get … whatever your followers respond best to is what you should go by.”
  7. Ignoring the numbers
    Don’t assume your social media efforts are effective just because you post content regularly. While the author is unknown, this quote speaks to the value of measuring the performance of your social media efforts. “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Based on the goals you established in your plan, determine key performance indicators you’ll track monthly. Some of the metrics to monitor include click through rates, video views and engagement with your posts – likes, comments and shares.

Social media is a powerful way to connect with your target audience. Start with a plan. Choose the right platform(s) to reach your audience. Create content your followers will value. Incorporate photos, gifs and videos to enhance your content. Engage your followers. Post the right amount of content at the right consistency. Track your performance and adjust course as necessary. In future posts, we’ll explore each of the “deadly sins” in more detail.

If you’d like to discuss your organization’s social media efforts, reach out!

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