Using social media may feel counterintuitive for a behavioral health center. The private nature of behavioral health services isn’t exactly aligned with what we normally see on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But, according to Mark Zuckerberg, more than 200 million businesses use Facebook to reach 2.6 billion people.1
With that reach, social media is a tool you can’t afford to ignore.
If you’ve been avoiding social media, the time has to come to rethink your assumptions. Consider how leveraging social media in innovative ways can benefit not only your patients and surrounding community, but also your treatment center’s image and vision.
Social Media in Behavioral Health
You chose your profession because helping people is built into your DNA, so you’re always looking for better ways to connect with your patients and those who support them. Social media can do just that. Today we’re highlighting three ways to use social media—and the potential problems.
1. Educating the Public
Social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are incredible tools for patient education. Eighty percent of people2 have searched for health information online, and their top criteria for evaluating what they find is the perceived trustworthiness, expertise, and objectivity of the source.3
By sharing accurate information and debunking popular myths surrounding behavioral and mental health, you’ll connect with the people who need you most. Whether that’s prospective patients or people you’ll never set eyes on, social media is a direct line to provide the tools and resources they need.
Since now you know the vast majority of people are searching for information through social media, you’re obliged to make sure they get good information. Become a trusted source for them while at the same time strengthening and increasing awareness about your center.
2. Continuing Patient Care
Re-entering the world after their stay with you can be difficult for patients. A social media presence can provide the transitional support and community they need to stay on track. This doesn’t necessarily mean a direct line of communication between patient and provider. Facebook Groups are a great way to maintain a sense of community while offering resources and assistance. This type of peer support can be instrumental in ensuring lasting outcomes for patients.4
3. Connecting With Outside Resources
Social media is where people talk, argue and share ideas. In the United States, the average person spends two hours and three minutes per day on social media.5 Yes, the competition to be seen is tough, but social media still offers an excellent opportunity to deliver meaningful resources.
Making your own already existing assets available is just the first step. Share relevant news, post recent research in behavioral health, make recommendations for the best addiction recovery apps and provide links to support groups for friends and family of patients. Also consider creating content like informative videos or podcasts, how-to videos, or host online discussion groups.
Implementing any new marketing approach comes with benefits and pitfalls. Before setting up any social media presence, thoroughly discuss and plan how you’ll address these three concerns.
1. Protecting Privacy
Confidentiality is your greatest concern online. Patients and their families need to know their privacy doesn’t stop at your center doors. Educate yourself on what HIPAA compliance looks like in social media.6 Privacy is possible in a digital world if you take the measures to ensure it.
2. Maintaining Professionalism
Professionalism in social media is always a concern. Anything online is analyzed and judged. And a healthcare center will always be under increased scrutiny about the accuracy of the information disseminated. Double and triple-check everything you post.
Make sure you have a plan in place to deal with incoming messages and questions. Everyone on staff should know and understand the policy, even if they’re not directly involved with posting on social media platforms. Know how you will respond ahead of time and redirect patient inquiries when they do come up.
3. Protecting Your Time
A world where social media only and always has the most up-to-date, reliable information from leading doctors and researchers would be great. But we know that’s not our reality. As a busy digital marketer, you don’t want to be tied to constantly posting, monitoring, and responding to what’s happening on social media. Finding the perfect post that balances engagement and usefulness can take hours. Design sane, easy-to-use policies and procedures to guide behavior on the platforms, and then delegate!
Social Media and Behavioral Health Thought Leadership
Promoting your services and amplifying your brand doesn’t just help you. By proving yourself as a reliable source of information and education, you’re cementing a foundation of trust and capability with the community. The more high profile you are, the further your reach extends and the farther your message goes. Your followers will know who to turn to if they need your services in the future. Doing good on social media helps you do good for your center. It’s a win-win.
Need assistance managing your social media? The team at Dreamscape Marketing can help. Call us at 888.307.7304 to schedule a strategy session with our behavioral healthcare content experts to discuss the best social media plan to support your center’s goals.
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