Social listening gives your practice a crucial opportunity to track, analyze, and respond to conversations with your audience on social media. It is an important piece of audience research that, when done correctly, allows you to crowdsource community health problems and solutions using a community problem-solving process.
What is Social Listening?
Social listening is the process of gathering data from social platforms — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the like — on a predetermined topic. This topic could be your specific brand, general healthcare practices, questions people have about healthcare, or any other topic you are interested in tracking.
The data you collect is then analyzed to find trends and useful insights — like what patients think of your clinic or what kind of COVID-19 advice they are sharing. The data and trends you find can influence and change a wide range of your practice’s business operations, advertising approaches, and patient interaction policies.
Cold Hands: A Case Study
Not sure how this applies to you?
Imagine you are at a coffee shop (appropriately socially distanced of course) and hear the person in front of you say, “Man I love my doctor — but his hands are so cold!”
Their companion responds, “Oh man! My doctor too! I feel weird mentioning it, but I hate it!”
You, the doctor, start to wonder: Are my hands cold? Does everyone feel this way? How can I fix this?
You start asking around, questioning patients and staff — you start listening — and make changes based on what you hear.
This is an incredibly simplistic example, but when you do the same thing online, that is active social listening! It’s that easy! You listen to what people have to say, and you respond to it. This is a fantastic way of addressing community concerns.
Why Active Social Listening Matters
If you are not engaging in social listening, you are leaving insights on the table and working in the proverbial dark. Instead of wasting time, money, and energy on the wrong voice, content, campaign, or patient engagement process through trial and error, listen to your patients when they tell you what they want. You can then back that information up with the unlimited resources of the internet.
Everyone has an opinion on the internet. Harness those opinions for the good of your practice.
Engage With Patients
When you keep an eye on what people say about your practice online, you have the opportunity to open a dialogue and interact in meaningful ways. For example, maybe someone left a glowing review on Facebook or complained about wait times on Google. Either way — respond! Apologize and let them know you want to do better, or thank them for their kind words.
The best thing about being responsive in this way is that it creates goodwill, not just with this one patient but with everyone on social media who reads it. It also boosts engagement — when people know you respond, you better believe they will start talking (or typing).
Another benefit of social listening is it allows you to address any PR snafus before they become a bigger issue. You can respond to bad reviews and watch for trends. Are people complaining about the same thing over and over? Consider making some process changes, and be sure to make a public announcement when you do!
Complaints about a certain doctor’s bedside manner, negative comments about wait times, or mentions of cleanliness issues: These are all things you want to take into serious consideration. Try to get past your natural defensiveness and really listen to what people are saying when they are unhappy — these can all be opportunities to improve satisfaction and better serve your patients.
The Community Problem Solving Process
The great thing about active social listening is it is a symbiotic relationship between you and your audience. Listen to what they want and need, then deliver it! In return, your patient engagement, your community reputation, and your new patient count and retention rate will go up.
When you are transparent with people about trying to improve, you will be shocked by how fast they jump in to help with suggestions of their own. When you make people feel involved in your success, they want to support you — so don’t forget to say thank you for suggestions when you implement a new solution!
Tips on Active Social Listening
Find out where your patients are on social media — not just on what they say — so you can concentrate your efforts accordingly. You may find Facebook is where your demographic spends the most time talking about your brand while Instagram is less used.
Cast a wide net before you tighten it. Remember your conversations will be very different from platform to platform. Your voice and your audience on Twitter, for example, will be completely different than on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to branch out! Maybe TikTok isn’t your thing now, but you could be the next “Dr. Campbell” (if you haven’t seen this doctor dance in his scrubs, you’re missing out)!
The important thing is talking to your patients in an easy and accessible way for them.
Check out what your competition is doing in the realm of social listening. Are they responding to comments and asking questions? How can you emulate what they do or do it better?
Remember to look at what they are not doing, too. Learn from those mistakes and improve before you have to do it the hard way.
Just like in a normal conversation, you start to feel a sort of “flow” when you practice good social listening. Once you have a solid basis of understanding for how people talk about you and the give and take in your conversations with them, noticing when it changes becomes much easier.
Major changes in engagement or general sentiment may mean the overall perception of your brand is changing — whether positively or negatively. You need to understand why and how those perceptions are changing so you can adapt your strategy accordingly. Maybe this means riding the wave of positivity and approval and making the most of it, or maybe you need to correct a misstep to get back on course.
Ready to Start Listening?
If you are interested in starting your own community problem-solving process with active social listening, contact iProv today! We will provide a free evaluation of your practice’s social listening score and give you pointers on how to improve!