Have you ever gone to a party alone? One where you didn't know anyone? It can be a weird and awkward experience. You enter the room and scan the scene, looking for a friendly face. Without a welcome, or a reason to stay, it's not long before you are checking your watch and making a beeline for your car. Social media can be the virtual equivalent of that!
As my Sanskrit teacher said, “The best relationships are formed one cup of tea at a time.” Social media is all about relationship-building. Every day, you get to set the table for your community and serve up quality information for everyone to enjoy. Follow these three rules of social media success and your virtual tea party will become THE place to be for quality hearing health care conversations.
Rule #1 – Be an Aggregator (someone who collects and shares related items). Quality content is key! Farm information from credible sources to create a sense of trust with your followers. Include topics to stay focused on your message and invite comments. For example, create categories like “Medical News Monday” or “Fun Fact Friday.” Categories provide a framework, allowing you the freedom to provide your audience with interesting information while creating containers to help you stay focused. Ask your online community for topics. Decide what style you will write in and stick to it–will it be in the first person (“I think”) or third person (“We think”)? If you have more than one person creating online posts, decide, as a practice, on a consistent “flavor” for your posts or unique entries, and make sure that everyone involved follows it.
Rule #2 – Be Consistent. To make an impact, you must show up! You are building your online community. They need to know when they arrive at your door that your posts, videos, and comments will be there to greet them. If social media is new to you, or if you are too busy to make a daily commitment, use a social media scheduler such as Hootsuite or Buffer. These allow you to create multiple days of content and set up specific dates and times to post your content. Experiment with the timing of your posts, and you'll learn that there may be times when you garner greater online engagement.
Rule #3 – Be Present. Review and respond to every comment. If you aren't engaging, it is the virtual equivalent of turning your back on the conversation. “Like,” comment, and thank your supporters for engaging. This is also your opportunity to respond to any negative comments. If someone expresses a concern with your posts, platforms, or positions, take the chance to provide a thoughtful response, and express your gratitude for their willingness to express their opinion. You may find that naysayers become your advocates when their issues are addressed.
Remember: Always adhere to HIPAA privacy rules when sharing information. Your patients and their influencers should never feel vulnerable to having their personal information exposed. Keep comments and examples general.
With some discipline and practice, you can become the “hostess with the mostest.” Your virtual community will grow, and the conversations will flow.