Social Media Lessons from the Best American Hospitals

May 15

Social Media Lessons from the Best American Hospitals

The best social media marketing blends storytelling and PR. It seamlessly integrates advertising and relationship building, fighting its way through the social noise while never losing sight of the human stories driving brand successes. Social media for the nation’s top hospitals is no different, with an extra bit of responsibility: As community cornerstones, hospitals have a unique platform for educating and inspiring the public. Hospitals with top-notch social media aren’t just using their channels as marketing machines—they’re creating healthier communities.

The team at Convince & Convert investigated what successful social media looks like for the best hospitals in the U.S. We collected our research in a detailed report, The Best of Social Media from America’s Top Hospitals, and rounded up the highlights below.

How We Identified the Best Hospital Social Media Posts

Using Rival IQ, we gathered all public Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts from the top 53 U.S. hospitals, as determined by bed size and the U.S. News 2017–2018 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. We then looked exclusively at posts from February 2018, giving us a data set of approximately 10,000 social posts. Engagement metrics from Rival IQ helped use narrow that group of 10,000 to the best 50 posts. We also limited each hospital to a maximum of five posts and chose to include posts boosted by paid support.

What Makes a Great Hospital Twitter Post

Twitter is a high-priority channel for the nation’s top hospitals. Most tweet an average of three times per day, and the best-performing hospital Twitter accounts often post much more. The health and medical communities are also active on Twitter chats and seasonal hashtags like #HeartMonth, and hospitals who participated saw notable boosts in engagement.

OSUWxner Twitter post

The type of content posted affected engagement, as well: photos attracted the most, followed by videos and posts containing links.

What Makes a Great Hospital Facebook Post

The most “loved” Facebook posts were (perhaps unsurprisingly) videos showcasing patient stories, moving recoveries, and other successful outcomes.

Most loved hospital Facebook posts

Uplifting stories weren’t the only kind of content driving engagement, however: Audiences also engaged using Facebook’s “sad” and “angry” reactions on posts commemorating patients who had passed, research on preventable disease, etc. Also of note is the content that didn’t perform well on Facebook: Posts linking to other content were the most common post type published by top hospitals yet attracted the least engagement.

What Makes a Good Hospital Instagram Post

Faces appear to be the key to engaging Instagram posts for hospitals. Half of the best posts included two or more faces. Carousel posts also attracted high engagement, contradicting most other data on carousels’ effect on social engagement. Posts with a strong storytelling angle—behind the scenes photos of doctors on the job or moments from the hospital’s history—attracted the most comments on any other post type. Hospitals also used hashtags to draw eyes to their posts, averaging about three per post (but no more than eight).

Top hospital Instagram posts

The Hospitals Leading Social Media

From our group of 53, we narrowed our list of hospitals to the top 20 on social media according to the size of their audience, post volume, engagement rate per post, and total engagement during the month of February. A few trends emerged among this elite group, including an obvious preference for Twitter and Facebook over Instagram. The top five hospitals showed an even more serious commitment to Twitter and Facebook and published twice as frequently as the group average. The top three were especially committed to strategy and included:

  1. NewYork-Presbyterian
  2. Cleveland Clinic
  3. Mayo Clinic

Every hospital on this cream-of-the-crop list exhibited smart social media strategy, but NewYork-Presbyterian stood out for a few reasons. One was its larger-than-average publishing window (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and its commitment to publishing content on weekends, not just weekdays. NYP posts to Facebook and Instagram a minimum of once per day, averages more than seven tweets per day, and participates in real-time Twitter chats like #HealthyHeartTalk. NYP’s social also prioritizes storytelling and visual content like none other. Their strategy is photo- and video-driven, and the payoff is evident.

NewYork-Presbyterian leads social media


Hospitals that prioritize storytelling and visual content see higher engagement on social media.
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Learn from the Nation’s Best Hospitals

The best hospitals on social media are masters of bringing a human face to the services they provide. They show a rigorous commitment to storytelling, original visual content, being a reliable presence in their audience’s social feeds. Our full report includes even more examples of the top social posts, more data on publishing habits and engagement, and an even deeper analysis of our findings.

Download The Best of Social Media from America’s Top Hospitals to get the full story.



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