How can GP Practices utilise Twitter?

Social Media is an easy and cost effective way of sharing information about what’s happening at the practice and sharing relative content with your patients. Over the last year I have seen a definite rise in GP Practices taking on Twitter and Facebook accounts to communicate with patients.

Here at First Practice Management (FPM) we have recently seen an increase in enquires come to us about social media and how GP Practices can benefit from it and what is best practice.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to write a series of articles about social media in relation to GP Practices. In my first article I’m going to talk about Twitter. I’ll discuss how to set up an account and edit it, what you should tweet about and share, how to promote your profile and how to manage the account.

Setting up your GP practice’s account

Visit www.twitter.com and set up your account. The sign up process is really simple, and here are some key things to consider:

  • Your Username: Try and get your Practice name in i.e @Greenfield_Surgery be careful as you are restricted to 15 characters
  • Your Name: A personal identifier (sometimes a business name or real name) displayed in your profile page.
  • Website: Adding your practice website allows your followers to identify that it’s the practice that they attend. Plus it can direct additional traffic to your practice’s website.
  • Bio: Try to include some information about the practice and contact details. It’s really down to personal preferences.
  • Profile Picture and Header: Try and get some pictures of the practice and the staff (Make sure you get confirmation first). Including pictures of the practice and staff makes your profile more engaging and friendly.

More information can be found at support.twitter.com

What should I Tweet?

For many social media channels, especially for businesses, it is about transparency, engagement and communication. The first type of statuses that might spring to mind are opening and closure updates, evening surgery times and PPG Meetings.

What you also might consider sharing is information about improving diet, exercise and lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking, simply retweeting statuses from appropriate accounts. The Government and the NHS have many incentives that might be of interest to your followers such as Couch to 5k, Change For Life and Move More initiatives.

Other content you may consider sharing are events in the practice such as birthdays, work anniversaries of the practice staff, exam passes and retirements (as long as they are happy for you to share this). Not only is this a nice way of thanking your employees it can also make the practice appear more human and approachable.

Thinking about your practices Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may not keep you up at night panicking (unlike CQC inspections) but what is also worthwhile sharing is anything that is happening in your community such as a village fairs or charity events. Again, this works towards making the practice more human, less of a faceless entity and part of the community.

Promoting your profile

Promoting your profile needn’t cost the earth. I doubt it’s worth paying to promote your practice’s account through Twitter Ads, as it can be costly and I doubt you will see the return.

What would be worthwhile is creating some posters to stick up on the notice board and reception area that invites patients to follow and add it to your practice leaflet. You could also add links to your Twitter account via your practice website.

Managing your twitter account

In my previous article on social media for GP Practices I outlined the positives and negatives of using social media. To make sure your accounts are managed correctly here are some top tips:

  • Have a complaint procedure in place: In my experience I found it best practice to move it away from the open environment of social media and get in direct contact with anyone filing any formal complaints. All social media platforms allow you to report abusive attacks; many often result in the attacker’s account getting taken down or blocked.
  • Be active only in practice hours: Make sure you include this in your profile bio, like many GP Practices you’re not running an out of hours’ service.
  • Have a back up plan: We all know about the proverbial bus, but on average, a London bus hits two pedestrians / cyclists a day (Source BBC) so you never know! It’s important that you have an additional member of staff who is able to take the reins when you’re ill, lying in intensive care or just simply lying on a beach sipping a pina-colada.
  • Hoot, Hoot: If you take on more than one platform it might be wise to adopt Hootsuite; don’t worry its FREE. Hootsuite syncs all your social media platforms to one location where you can manage all your posts and interactions.

Tweet Tweet!

So there you have it! If you are a member of First Practice Management and you need any additional help or more information about social media please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Plus, don’t forget you can find First Practice Management on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+

In my next article I shall look at using Facebook. 


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