There are several methods to communicate and provide information rich resources using social media. By uploading photos, videos, links and posting comments to your “wall,” you can efficiently create a resourceful environment that helps extend your disease education far beyond its current confines. Videos in particular, allows for a creative extension of your content. Advances in video editing software and hardware have made producing a quality video simpler and cheaper than ever before. By providing a variety of quality content sources, you will be setting the stage for a site used regularly by your existing patients while attracting new ones. At this point many educators have a hard time trying to determine what information to include on the social media site. A few items are key. 1) Good description of your disease education mission statement, credentials, etc. 2) links to any affiliated institutions and organizations where you are a member or follow 3) Collateral materials such as photos, graphics, etc. and 4) A few information nuggets ready to share. Use news sites, blog posts, search engines and industry web sites to track, monitor and post interesting disease and health information. Both Bing and Google have great news search capability allowing you to search news on key words such as “diabetes” and “heart disease.”
It is important to recognize that disease educators may not have the same social media goals as many other enterprises promoting web sites, products, etc. While these organizations are going to be focused mostly on generating “Likes” on Facebook or expanding a network of “followers” on Twitter, the disease educator’s aim should be crating a useful resources that patients come to rely on for disease information and lifestyle ideas. It is much more difficult to measure and quantify site usage, but it is the real indicator of social media success.
To determine whether your social media strategy is working, follow the discussions on your page to easily determine whether you have created an environment that fosters patient use instead of a simple “Like” or “Follow”. Start and participate in discussions to keep your social media site active and relevant. Be careful in the discussion sections never to provide patient specific information. Always put your self in the context of broadcasting out to everyone. HIPAA compliance demands that you always provide general information or comments. Never provide patient specific information within the social media context. Use more private methods such as phone or email to answer specifics and always within accordance of your HIPAA policy you are bound to.
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