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Tips for Using Social Media During COVID-19

Learn how to use your social media accounts to provide fast, reliable information to your followers during a public health crisis like COVID-19.

In uncertain times, leverage your social media to instantly connect with audiences looking for your healthcare organization’s guidance.

More Eyes on Social Media

During a public health crisis like the COVID-19 virus pandemic, people want to learn how to stay safe and healthy, and how to get care when they need it. Many are turning to their local hospitals and health systems for that information.

In fact, a Geonetric consumer survey, 33% said their trust in their local health system has increased or strongly increased during the pandemic.

Part of where this information seeking and trust is happening is on social media.

According to a New York Times analysis, social media, in particular, has seen a rapid increase in use during the social distancing, shelter-in-place, and self-isolation of the pandemic. More specifically, Facebook has seen a 27% traffic increase in desktop users and a 1.1% traffic increase in Facebook app users.

Answer Your Audience’s Questions

Social media gives your team a direct-to-consumer channel to engage audiences. Tools like Facebook and Instagram let you use images, videos, stories, and text-based posts to connect in real-time with people who have questions and concerns you can address.

As you engage your audience on social, keep an eye on the trending questions and concerns from your community, such as:

  • When to wear a face mask or use protective gloves – and how to use them correctly
  • Where testing is available
  • What common symptoms are
  • Healthy foods to make from pantry basics
  • How to exercise safely and effectively when quarantined

Questions coming from real people also open doors for other content marketing for your audience, and provide a supportive, educational perspective that people need.

If you aren’t sure what to post, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has created a free social media toolkit with copy, images, and infographics to share with your followers.

Lend an Empathetic Ear — and Voice

During a crisis like this, your community and colleagues are facing uncertainty and anxiety. This puts you – as a healthcare marketer – in a distinct position to guide, educate, and help. In times like this, it’s more important that you act as a neighbor, not as a brand.

Beyond sharing health and wellness tips, evolving updates, and other newsworthy information, you can foster empathy with social media marketing by sharing stories inside and outside your walls, including

  • Donations and gifts to your staff and front-line clinicians
  • Celebrations of your colleagues and patients in the hospital
  • Stories from doctors, nurses, and staff who are helping your community
  • Stories from patients and families

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shared photos of staff wearing donated masks across their social channels. The posts also linked to their website for more information about making donations.

Delivering Content with Empathy

The language and images you use in your posts are important to your audience. Engage tips on how to write for the web and use social media, and apply them to your posts:

  • Write in plain language and avoid jargon
  • Keep posts meaningful, write in the present tense (if possible), and use short paragraphs to make the posts easy to read and scan
  • Use empathetic images – even if they’re stock photos – that avoid anxiety and convey empathy and healthy tips
  • Cross-link to relevant content on your website, such as blog posts or content marketing, service line pages, or your crisis resource hub
  • Make posts actionable, to lead people to helpful information or next steps

Strategize Your Social Media

According to a study from Sprout Social, the optimal day and time to post vary by platform. It’s important to note that these recommended times to post on social platforms are based on pre-pandemic circumstances but can be used as a good benchmark to begin with and optimize as times proceeds.

Such benchmarks can help you reach more people by posting on the right channel at the right time – and take advantage of specific features and tools.

Facebook

For the healthcare industry, Facebook sees the most engagement on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The typical business workweek also gives reliable times for engagement from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Facebook implemented features for business pages to publish business hour updates and service changes. As Google My Business and Bing Places have done, Facebook lets businesses make updates including:

  • Making temporary closures
  • Offering online classes
  • Offering telehealth services

Instagram

The best time to post on Instagram for the healthcare industry falls on Tuesdays at around 8:00 a.m. Incorporate trending crisis-related hashtags, such as #flattenthecurve, #stayhome, and #quarantineandchill, into your content in an appropriate and tasteful way.

Use Instagram to provide educational content that points viewers to your website for up-to-date and credible information. Don’t shy away from using Instagram to share inspirational content to give viewers that glimmer of hope they need.

Twitter

Top times in the healthcare industry to post on Twitter are on Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Other weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. have also proven to show reliable engagement.

Twitter recommends using images and videos to attract users and reach a wider audience. Consider using threads for status updates and restrictions that just don’t fit into Twitter’s allotted 280-character posts.

LinkedIn

With LinkedIn’s target audience being primarily professional users, the best times to post occur during the workweek, Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, LinkedIn has increased efforts to assist organizations and communities dealing with the impact of the pandemic, including offering free job postings. This service — available through June 30, 2020 — receives additional promotion from LinkedIn to highly relevant candidates through the “Urgently Hiring” job category.

YouTube

The best time to post on YouTube falls during weekdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Views tend to peak during the weekday evening hours, so by posting in that window, you’ll have plenty of time for your video to be processed and indexed by Google.

Optimize your videos with accurate titles, descriptions, tagging, and transcription. When possible, include relevant keywords in the video title and description to attract search users.

Video content that is educational, inspirational, and helpful is a great resource for viewers.

Monitor Your Social Traffic

Posting on optimal days and times is a good starting point for any organization to engage on social media. After you’ve built a solid foundation of followers and engagement, check your channels’ insights and analytics.

These data points help you analyze when your page’s target audience is engaging most with your content. This strategy is especially important to utilize during the COVID-19 virus. With limited data right now on optimum times to post, it’s more important than ever before to look at your own social media metrics. Take these findings and adjust your schedule and content calendar.

Social media marketing metrics you should measure fall into three primary categories:

  • Audience – Shows gender, age, location, and other demographic information to help you determine who’s engaging with your content
  • Content – Allows you to spot patterns in engaging and less-engaging posts, including link posts, images, videos, and text-based posts
  • Engagement – Provides benchmarks to gauge performance, including likes, comments, clicks, shares, views, and more

You can typically find this information through each social platform’s insights/analytics tool.
Tools like Google Analytics and UTM parameters aid in tracking how social media drives traffic to your site. UTMs allow you to tag links to track which social platform is bringing the most visitors and how those visitors are engaging with your site.

The Most Important Thing is Empathy

Your social media presence can be a source of relief for some or a source of hope for others. Take your position in times like these as an opportunity to connect with your community beyond providing care in your clinics. This is a perfect chance to extend empathy and provide outstanding support during a difficult time for everyone.

If you’re not sure how to set up your social media analytics and tracking, or you need help building social posts and campaigns during the pandemic, reach out to Geonetric to get started.

Erin Schroeder

Senior Product Strategist

Whitney Weber

Digital Marketing Coordinator

Tips for Using Social Media During COVID-19