Natalie Crawford, MD
A hashtag campaign can be a powerful social media movement used to inspire and educate consumers. Hashtags are searchable terms on social media that can connect groups of posts and users around a central theme. This can be especially powerful for both connecting with a community and for creating a social media movement.
Healthcare providers have successfully utilized hashtag campaigns in order to speak out on important public health issues. By connecting with like-minded individuals with a hashtag campaign, you not only get to gain more traction with a post and more exposure to other potential social media followers, but you are also using your platform to reach others. Reaching and connecting with others, building a network, having clear social media goals – these are some of the huge benefits of being on social media as a health care provider. Not only do you stand out, you also are able to stand for something.
Successful hashtag campaigns are well thought out. First, you need a common goal and a searchable hashtag – made up words or acronyms are not typically as successful as actually words and phrases which make immediate sense upon reading. Do a trial and search your potential hashtag – the best hashtags have not been used at all or very much, thus all posts with that hashtag are related to your campaign.
For example, #verifyhealthcare has 2,089 posts on Instagram with different providers stating who they are and what their healthcare credentials are. This successful campaign encouraged transparency on social media so consumers understand who is providing medical education. You can look through that campaign and see that over 2k Instagram users came together for one post. Many newer users gained followers, appealed to their core audience, and a platform pertaining to healthcare.
After finding a hashtag that works for your goals and is not over used, the best plan is to reach out to people to post with you. Don’t only reach out to people with huge followings, they may not have the time, see your message, or be on board. But ask people, regardless of follower count, who you want to be linked to and who you believe will best support your message.
Remember that many social media users plan out pictures and posts in advance. A clear plan helps the most. Reaching out with “Hi, I am starting a campaign to talk about transparency in social media and we are posting on May 5 at or after 10 am CST with any picture of you in your white coat, with diplomas, or in your office using the hashtag #verifyhealthcare.
This will make it easy for the central group to know what, when, and how to post. Also remember that in order to gain traction, the easier it is for people to jump into the campaign the better – so if the picture requires a lot of planning or props, it will be harder for others to join in on your movement.