The Coffey Blog

Small-town hospital makes big social media splash

Posted on: Monday, April 10, 2017

Melissa Welling, Editor

Whenever a social media post goes viral, savvy healthcare marketers try to replicate those results. But if you're marketing healthcare in a rural community, your hospital's accounts may not be setting the internet on fire—and that's OK. Your social posts don't need a huge, nationwide fan base to be effective.

Consider the Facebook page of Whitman Hospital and Medical Center (WHMC). By following a few sound practices, this 25-bed critical access hospital in rural Colfax, Washington, makes the most of a fan base that, while small, is passionate about their community hospital.

4 social media lessons for rural healthcare marketers

Looking to get off to a strong start on social media? Instead of hopping straight onto the latest viral trends, start with these solid principles that are at the heart of WHMC's success:

1. Show up. If you don't have a social media presence, you're missing out on conversations that are happening without you. And that could mean your key messages aren't reaching your audience—and your fans aren't helping you reach your goals.

For example: Colfax loves their community hospital so much that when WHMC didn't have a Facebook page, the community started one themselves. WHMC joined the conversation by claiming that community Facebook page, and the hospital started publishing their own content regularly, following a solid editorial plan.

The original fan base is still incredibly active, and their passion pays off in reach. In fact, on many of WHMC's posts, the majority of reactions come not on the original post but on shares to fan timelines.

2. Showcase local heroes. Stock photos are easy to find, and sometimes, they seem like safe shots to share on social. But people are the heart of your hospital. So get out into the halls with your camera, and put them in the spotlight.

Need incentive? Familiar faces are popular on WHMC's Facebook page. Photos of nurses, doctors and other staff routinely get more likes, shares and comments than posts with stock photography.

3. Listen to what people like. Once you have an editorial plan in place, it's tempting to set it and forget it. But it's important to make your content plan fluid and adaptable. Tune in to what your community wants. WHMC's followers, for instance, respond strongly to posts about job openings, awards, new services and local events. Find out what your community enjoys—and focus your resources there.

4. Engage. Consider enabling reviews and star ratings on your Facebook page. Star ratings have the potential to increase the organic reach of your posts, especially if, like WHMC, your page gets lots of five-star reviews. Ratings also suggest an openness and integrity that could positively influence your brand. And they give you an opportunity to respond empathetically to negative reviews—and turn critics into fans.

Daunted? Don't be

Coffey's social media experts can help you get your social media marketing plan off the ground—and keep it running. We're here for you with editorial planning, custom writing, content curation, posting and reputation management services. Call 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

Harness the buzz in 2016: How to use breaking news to inspire your healthcare content
7 ways your healthcare organization can use social media
7 tips for handling negative social media comments

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