Leveraging Facebook Groups for your Health System, Hospital or Medical Group

As a CMO or other valued member of your healthcare marketing team, we venture you’re intimately familiar with using Facebook pages as part of your social media strategy. But what about Facebook groups? Not yet? Let’s look at some new opportunities.

Facebook groups can take your health system, hospital or medical group to the next level by giving you the platform and tools you need to build and strengthen relationships with your consumers. Facebook groups are like virtual offices or dens where you can engage with your customers directly by having authentic conversations centered around your programs, services and events that are of special interest to them. And unlike Facebook pages, Facebook’s algorithm often shows group activity ahead of other Facebook content, meaning group activity is often front and center on the newsfeed when your members log on. That’s free brand awareness!

Let’s look at ways you can put the value of Facebook groups to work for you in your healthcare setting:

Event-based groups: Is your hospital hosting an annual cancer awareness dinner or health fair? How about a NICU reunion or a medical group conference? What about a fitness center member challenge or the grand opening of a new facility? Creating a group surrounding any event will boost your promotional efforts and allow folks the opportunity to ask questions and get the answers they need beforehand. A group also allows them to share their own event photos after the fact to keep interest and excitement going. And if this is an annual event you are promoting, you already have a captive audience to share the news and excitement as next year’s event rolls around.

Support groups – cancer, diabetes, stroke, transplant or any other type of support group: Facebook support groups can be highly effective patient support communities, especially when your members are looking for support outside of regular monthly meeting times. Before you react with “No, we don’t want to go there. HIPAA, blah, blah, blah,” consider what using Facebook groups could mean for your patients: In this article from Becker’s Hospital Review – Can participating in Facebook groups improve patient satisfaction? 4 findings – this study found that 95 percent of survey respondents said joining the group positively affected their care.

Ready to get started?

Six best practices to increase brand visibility and enhance consumer engagement using Facebook groups: 

  1. Establish appropriate group settings: Facebook offers three optional group settings to suit your needs:
  • Public group – all of Facebook can see group members and the entire discussion. This is a great setting for an event-based group, like a community health fair
  • Closed group – the group and its members can still be viewed by the public, but only members of the group can see any content shared within (e.g. comments, photos/albums, videos, files, etc.)
  • Secret group, the most private of the three – the only people who can see a secret group and its members are those you add to the group – a good setting when you desire full privacy.
  1. Make use of “post approval” settings: When it comes to posting within Facebook groups, you can turn on (and off) post approval, meaning that instead of allowing members to post within the group at all hours of the day and night, member posts can sit in a pending folder until you allow the posts into the group. This is an effective way to review, approve and then manage group conversations at only those times of the day or week when you are available to oversee the discussion. Keep in mind, members can still comment on existing posts at any time, but new posts will wait until you add them.
  2. Convey group purpose and culture – and don’t forget the rules: Add a cover photo that shares your brand and communicates group subject content. Post group rules along with a good description that conveys the tone so that member expectations are set from the moment they join your group. As group admin, post often to stimulate conversation and illustrate commitment to the community.
  3. Assemble your admin/moderator team: If this group is expected to grow large, you may wish to add a team of admins and moderators to help manage. If so, you will want to set up your channels of communication and responsibilities for your other team members. This may include but not be limited to creating a Secret admin/mod group or messenger thread.
  4. Choose members: Start by adding a core group of engaged people to help create the foundation and add helpful content; then begin adding others to grow your community. You can set group settings so that only an admin can add members, or you can allow members to add others, too.
  5. Ready. Set. Engage: Be active in your group by engaging members in conversation. Using a content calendar is always helpful. Like Facebook pages, you can schedule content in groups as well. Some members may be intimidated by participating at first – help them be heard by using group features such as polls, FB Live, and asking open ended questions.

How will you use Facebook groups? Share with us!