Most healthcare organizations have (sometimes reluctantly) come to admit that they need a social media presence. From Ambulatory Surgery Centers to neighborhood clinics, healthcare companies know that social media posts are your chance to meet patients where they are. And that’s smart, because more and more patients are moving their healthcare searches into a social media ecosystem.
In order for social media to be effective, however, you need to ensure both wide visibility and an interactive audience. There are many ways to accomplish this, and hashtags are often discussed as one of the primary methods of doing so. The question is: are hashtags what your healthcare organization needs to ensure growth?
What is a Hashtag?
Whether you’ve been using social media for decades or you’re starting up your very first account, you may not have a very clear idea of what a hashtag even is! That’s no problem! A hashtag is simply a way of adding searchable terms into your social media post. For example, if you were writing a post for an ASC, you might use the hashtag #SameDaySurgery. (The # symbol is usually called a hashtag on its own; but the “hashtag” nomenclature also refers to the entire phrase that comes after the # symbol.)
Most social media platforms now allow for the creation of hashtags within posts. Some of these platforms may limit the number of hashtags you can use, while others won’t. In general, we don’t recommend using more than 3-5 hashtags per post.
How Should Hashtags be Used?
There was once a time when using the right hashtags ensured great visibility of your post–especially if you were strategic about it. For better or worse, that’s not really the case anymore. Using the right hashtags won’t lead to an explosion of growth. At least, not on their own (and not often enough that you can count on results).
This doesn’t mean that hashtags should not be used. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Modern hashtags are typically used to help social media companies categorize your posts. (The most transparent case of this is on Instagram.)
This categorization is important. You want your healthcare brand to be seen by people who are searching for healthcare content. So tagging your post with “#KneeReplacementResults” or “#SurgeryBeforeAndAfter” can help social media platforms sort your content in a way that’s appropriate.
As a result, a few hashtags per post can help get that post in front of eyeballs who are genuinely interested in your content.
So… How Do You Grow Your Engagement?
Hashtags were once exceptionally popular because they were the quick ticket to engagement and impression growth. Choosing the right hashtags was almost like a cheat code. And they can occasionally still work that way. But not often enough to make them a reliable part of your follower growth strategy.
Yes, use hashtags–to help these social media platforms categorize your content and show it to people who might be interested. But there are some other things you can do to help grow your engagement and your impressions.
- Post interesting content: Your content has to be something someone would want to engage with. It can’t be boilerplate or boring.
- Post visual content: For example, many healthcare organizations will post before and after images in order to generate visual interest (make sure all such posts are HIPAA-compliant). The more images you can post with your post, the better.
- Interact with your followers: It’s essential that you take the time to interact with your followers. Respond to comments, ask questions, and interact in a fun and authentic way.
- Post video content: If you’re able to post reels, videos, or stories, you’ll generate more interaction. And that can help you succeed in the long run!
If you’re worried you won’t be able to come up with interesting topics, just remember that many healthcare brands start by using social media to raise awareness around their services. That kind of content is a good place to start, as many people want to know about those services!
Hashtags are a Valuable Tool
If you aren’t sure how to proceed with your hashtags, follow this advice: keep it simple. Stick with uncomplicated, straightforward hashtags. This will help each social media service know where to put your content. And that can help you succeed.
But it will only help if your content is interesting and attention-grabbing. If you need help getting your social media strategy off the ground, contact PatientX today!
About the Author:
Michael is the CEO of PatientX, a fast-growing healthcare marketing and branding firm. PatientX strategically develops digital innovations and strategic ideas to encourage patients to view their healthcare providers with a fresh, forward-thinking perspective, and, thus, to nurture better relationships between patient and provider. In his role as CEO, Michael takes great pleasure in helping healthcare providers and healthcare B2B clients with the unique challenges they face. With over 15 years in his field, Michael is no stranger to the challenges one faces in marketing and branding, and he is able to draw from his deep well of experience to deliver optimal strategies and solutions.