People are brought together by the act of communicating; it is engrained in our DNA. We have been connecting and forming relationships through conversations since the beginning of time, why would business relationships be any different? We form relationships by connecting through a subject we are passionate about (sports, food or interoperability standards). That conversation then grows into something bigger, which may lead to a new opportunity, RFP or a new client. So what has changed? The art of communicating to connect is still the same; we just have access to more mediums.
Social media exploded as people began to niche themselves into smaller groups. Social media has allowed us to talk to anyone at any time and form small social circles based on our interests. The social savvy healthcare industry is exactly the same. There are social circles that love to talk about workflow, interoperability or even revenue cycle management. If you want to learn about a topic or take a thought leadership stance, this niched mindset provides a unique challenge. How do you find the right group of people to connect with and how do you seamlessly fit into the existing conversation?
It can be very daunting to get your feet wet if you aren’t already active in the network, and you may be struggling to find a way to integrate yourself or your organization into the conversation. Yet many of the same rules apply to Twitter as they would in any social setting. Here are four ways you can break into a niche conversation on Twitter (or any social network):
- Find a conversation. Take the same approach as you would at any social gathering. Work the room and listen in to a handful of conversations to see where you can add value. Instead of using your ears, search hashtags of relevant topics that you company can easily talk about. When you find a conversation that interests you, hang around to see where you can fit in. Some hashtags that I check daily are #healthIT, #ICD10 and #populationhealth.
- Go to the source. We all know what it was like to be in high school. There were the group leaders, and they guided the actions of their group. Social media behaves in a very similar way. Find the “popular kid” or the thought leaders involved in the conversation and add to it. Adding to existing conversations can help you make connections that will share your brand or at the very least let you show off your skills around an active audience. Use a free service like Topsy to search hashtags and determine the top influencers.
- Speak often. Social media conversations happen so fast that your impact is quickly buried in a pile of new tweets. Even if you offer ground breaking advice or facts, you may be overshadowed by a cute cat picture. (Yes, they even occur in niche healthcare conversations!) Keep your message fresh by always offering your view point through your profile. However, you do want to stay away from repeating the same message over and over again. If you are struggling for time, you can use hootsuite to preschedule your posts to have a constant presence and then respond in real time when you can.
- Add value. If there is one thing you take away from this post, this is it. Every tweet you put into the world should give your audience value. Provide them with one tidbit of knowledge they didn’t have before or give them a tip on how to make their lives easier. This type of messaging will cut through the digital clutter and bring back the heart of relationship building. Plus, you will quickly stand out from the vendors that are using Twitter to only show self-promotional messaging. So how can you add value? Easy – ask yourself if you would be interested in what you are about to share. If your tweets don’t provide value to you, how will they add value to people who are interested in the same topics.
Go on and get your feet wet. Still not sure where to begin? Check out our post on “How To Get Started On Social Media in 4 Steps” or check out TedMed’s 20 Greatest Health Challenges for monthly Twitter chats. The conversation has already begun but you can join at any time.