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An introduction to social media for GP practices

Many practices managers are discussing how they should promote their Practices on social media platforms. With the NHS, CCGs and CQC very much in the social media sphere, it seems like a logical step for GP Practices. But how do you reach out to the public and how can it benefit your patients?


Which social media platform is best for a GP Practice?

With all the different social media platforms out there, it’s difficult to decide which one is best for your practice. Here’s a quick run through of the top three platforms:

  • Twitter: Twitter is probably the easiest social media network to set up. Unlike Facebook you don’t require an existing account to set one up. You can be up and running within an hour.

Twitter is mainly about status updates called Tweets. You can retweet updates from people / organisations you follow. You make friends through following people and organisations and they can follow you back. Twitter is also a great source of news.

  • Facebook: Facebook is definitely one of the most popular social media channels. To setup a page for your practice, you already have to be a pre-existing Facebook member as you will log into the Practice Facebook page via your personal account.

Instead of friends and followers you are chasing elusive ‘likes’. It’s likely that a good proportion of your patient list is already on Facebook, so it’s probably your best bet for rapid growth.

  • Instagram: Instagram is a platform that is more informal and fun. People like to see “behind the scenes” as well as interactive, creative and fun which means that posting promotional and technical content will not work for you. For example, you can post about your practice’s social events or talk about trending healthcare topics. Posting pictures of your practice rooms and staff is also a good idea to make your account more personal to your audience. 
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the largest business networking social media platform in the world, and a great way to stay in contact with professional people. Probably not the best platform to speak to patients to, but definitely something to keep in mind.

 



What are the positives of social media for a GP Practice?

1. Interaction

From a marketing angle, the benefits of social media outlets are twofold. Firstly, social media allows you to interact with your customer i.e. your patients; you can react to things in the news, share health advice and communicate practice information and events such as closures or even a CQC inspection.


2. Raise Awareness on Specialised Conditions

Social media can be a great platform to raise awareness of specialised medical conditions. With social media platforms such as Facebook, you can create useful sub groups.

Does your practice have a high number of diabetics, obese patients or does one of your GPs have a special interest? Your practice can set up sub groups that allow patients access to a virtual support group where they can get access to knowledge and advice.

3. Feedback

Another key positive to gain from social media is feedback. As part of your patient participation group, you can set up a private group and invite patients who are already on Facebook to join and leave feedback on the practice’s performance.

As with anything however, there are downsides. Dealing with complaints via social media platforms can be time-consuming and demanding. Complainers are often more difficult and very insistent and want you to be quick to resolve the issue on their terms.

All in all though, social media is a great platform to stay in contact with your patients, invite feedback and become a stronger member of the local community.


  Top tips for social media in a GP Practice:

  • Have a social networking policy in place
  • Have a complaints / customer service procedure in place
  • Make it clear that patients cannot make or cancel appointments via social media
  • Make staff aware of privacy setting available on their social network platforms
  • Pick a social media channel that suits your practice best
  • Clearly outline a code of conduct on your surgery website
  • Only be active during practice hours
  • Commit to it. Doing things half-heartedly is worse than not doing it all


Don’t forget you can find First Practice Management on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook

In addition to the information above First Practice Management subscribers can obtain more information about social networking policies in the FPM Policies and Procedures Library.


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