The past few months have been challenging for us all, both as people
and as health and social care organisations. But despite these tough
times, we’re all in the same situation. As social distancing and
remote working have become commonplace, the importance of digital and
online communication has been greater than ever. And despite being
physically further apart, there’s never been a greater need for us to
be closer together.
Whilst plenty has been written about the pros and cons of video
consultations, virtual meetings and how the digital transformation of
the NHS has been accelerated out of necessity, one thing that’s
perhaps gone under the radar is the use of digital marketing and
public engagement. So, how should healthcare organisations be
approaching social media during the pandemic? And what should
communications sound like, at a time when communities need more
support and guidance than ever before?
Be human, build trust
It might seem obvious, but any communication needs to be delivered
with a human approach. Be straight-forward, be empathetic, be you. Now
more than ever, patients and the public need reassurances and
consistency. It’s a tough time but we’re all in this together.
If you don’t have a defined tone of voice, now might be a good time
to form one or at least draft some guidelines. It’ll be a useful
toolkit to use across your organisation and ensure that messaging is
clear and consistent.
For both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related health messaging, a
balance of simple communication, accurate information and clear
expertise will go a long way to building that all important trust.
At its core, social media is designed to create communities, share
stories and bring us closer together; regardless of where we are. And
with more people working from home and having more time to themselves,
we’re seeing screen time being higher than before. That makes it the
ideal moment to share positive news and engaging stories.
This could be COVID-19 related activities or something more general,
either way we’ve seen the great responses that real, inspiring human
stories can have. Think powerful initiatives like Captain Tom raising
£33m, the nationwide clap for carers or even our very own round up of care
As well as sharing serious messages, these stories, videos and
initiatives help spread positivity and keep spirts high during a
Keeping partners and the public up to date
The way people search and find information is changing. People are
now much more likely to use social media and online resources as their
first point of call for general service status, contact information
Unlike other industries, health and social care has not come to a
standstill during the pandemic; as we all know providers have been
busier than ever. However this doesn’t mean that some day-to-day
services and procedures haven’t been reduced or halted. If this is the
case, make sure your partners and the public know about it.
Even if formal communication has been made, it’s always good practice
to share relevant, informative messages on social media. It will also
help if you proactively reply to any comments or queries on posts and
Fighting back against misinformation
While tackling misleading information and false stories relating to
COVID-19 is a major challenge for social media platforms, we can play
our part by making sure we share as much clear, reliable and
informative messages as possible. Recent
research in the UK showed just 10% of people said they trusted
news about COVID-19 on social media - let’s do our bit to change that!
It should go without saying, but make sure all information is from
official sources and government guidelines. It’s clear that there’s
never been a more important for your communication to be accurate,
clear and informative on everything related to COVID-19 and beyond.
The show must go on
While as previously mentioned, some patient services have inevitably
been disrupted, that doesn’t mean that people have stopped having
heart attacks, developing cancer or suffering serious injuries.
One of the most concerning side effects of the pandemic has been a
reduction in people seeking help for the most serious conditions. In
revealed that nearly half of the public have concerns about
seeking help while the threat of coronavirus is here.
In reality, NHS staff and healthcare settings are well equipped to
make sure people can get services like cancer checks and treatments
safely. Equally, online consultations mean people don’t necessarily
need to go to GP surgeries for check-ups or appointments. COVID-free
cancer hubs have also been set up to provide surgery, along with
independent sector hospitals who have signed an unprecedented deal
with the NHS.
Clearly communicating this type of information to our communities
could help save lives.
Here to stay
One of the most powerful outcomes from the pandemic is the public’s
relationship with the NHS. There’s never been greater respect and
admiration for health and social care workers and the crucial services
they provide. This means that long after COVID-19 is gone, the
foundations will have firmly been set to re-engage patients, partners
and providers across the country.
Alongside that, it’s worth noting that your organisation and brand is
here for the long haul. Keeping it active, reliable and consistent
during these unprecedented months will go a long way to building
relationships and trust for years to come.
If you need support with your communications, marketing or public
engagement during COVID-19 and beyond, take a look at
our service offering
and get in touch.