How Healthcare Providers and Nonprofits Can Use Social Media Together

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linkedin social mediaThis is an excerpt from my article on LinkedIn Pulse. 

Click here to read the full article.

For Medical Professionals:

Don’t keep your passion a secret! I know otolaryngologists who fly around the world for cleft pallet surgeries and plastic surgeons who make donations to local breast cancer funds with every breast augmentation they perform. Some doctors even enjoy something as simple as a toy drive in their office, or spending time at a soup kitchen during the holidays. Post about it! Take a photo while you’re doing it, ask for donations from your Fans to support the cause, and shout it from the rooftops – “This is what I do because it makes me feel good!”

Keep it focused. Every charity would love your help, but if you want this to be a two-way-street, pick a local program or find a local chapter for something you want to support that’s national. Then, work with one at a time. It will focus your efforts for better benefit to the nonprofit and save your sanity. Plus, you’re much more likely to get new patients from local publicity.

“Flirt” with them online. Retweet them often, share their post on Facebook from their Fan Page to your Business Page, know their favorite #causes hashtag, and mention them with links and @tags. It’s not an affair that will distract you from your business goals. The attention is mutually beneficial. Their local followers will see your business name and see that you are supporting a cause that they are also passionate about.

Create a cause together. It doesn’t matter what the nonprofit is for, you can still collaborate. Do an online crowd funding event and raffle a prize or give a coupon to everyone who donates. Host a silent auction at your office and pay for the catering. You can *probably* write it off, your patients will see your big heart, and chances are you’ll get new referrals, too. Or help a shelter by posting an adoptable pet each week on your Facebook Page for a month. Ask staff to get involved and share the pictures of them with you at a food bank asking for donations one night. Short term events like these can be planned during your slow season and everybody wins. Make sure you make a really big deal about it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other platform you use.


For Nonprofits:

I listed you second because everything doctors can do, you can do. Approach businesses who are active (and responsible) on social media sites and give them ideas for collaboration opportunities. Especially that doctor you know that volunteers with you every Thanksgiving.

Tell us our impact. Healthcare nonprofits often have the greatest need – openly show it. And no, I don’t mean like those sad commercials of skinny puppies in cages. What I do mean is be specific in your request. We all know “there are starving children in Africa,” but that’s too global and something we won’t feel like we can impact. If you are working with a village that has 100 new cases of Polio each month but you were able to drop that to only 85 cases last month and this month you just need $xxx to drop it down to 40, we see how we can help. When your clear about your need, people will know how to help.

Openly thank local businesses. @Tag businesses you know have made a donation or impact for your nonprofit. All you need to do is say “Thank you!” and the message will be clear. Each business page has Fans of their own who will see the generosity of the business they are already following and may see a way they can help you, too.

Create dedicated albums. Show off your successful campaigns with an album of adoptions, a mission to Honduras, a thank-you dinner… any event you do needs to be journalistically documented with social media photos. Give some of those photos to the medical specialist who helped you, too, so they can post them. Remember to ask them to tag you when they share!

Hold contests with tangible donations. Were you able to get a free pair of tickets as a donation? Don’t just give them away, make a social impact! Ask for a photo submission or a story of how Diabetes has impacted someone you love. Get permission to publicly share these as part of the contest, then share away. The contest should help strengthen your cause.

Tag your volunteers and thank them publicly. When their friends see it, they might join your cause, or at least give you an engagement boost.

Look for similarities. While it’s possible to promote an animal shelter through the Facebook page of a neurologist, it’s mostly because of the old marketing adage, “puppies and babies sell.” If you work with skin cancer, talk to a dermatologist for cross-promotion. If you supply wigs for woman with breast cancer, a plastic or reconstructive surgeon is likely to get on board and help you. Vaccines for childhood diseases in less-fortunate countries? Try a pediatrician or a pediatric heart surgeon.

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