Kimberly Erskine discusses how her team redefined Penn Medicine’s organic Facebook strategy to humanize the hospital and become more visually engaging

A couple months ago, Kimberly Erskine, Web Content Coordinator at Penn Medicine, and her team started reevaluating the hospital’s main Facebook page. Multiple departments, including marketing, public relations, and development, were posting their own content on the page — leaving it over-saturated.

Kimberly and her team set out to create a more deliberate and sociable Facebook strategy to drive engagement and help humanize the hospital.

Kimberly’s team noticed their content wasn’t performing as well as it should have been.

We want to reach our audience wherever they are, and that's not always on Facebook. Kimberly Erskine
“We blamed a lot of it on the algorithm changes,” Kimberly said. “But we’ve also been noticing that it’s probably more than that because some of our community pages were still doing well.”

That’s when she realized they may have become disconnected from their audience by posting too often and posting content that wasn’t relevant to their followers. She explained that some of what they were posting on Facebook might just belong on a different page. “For example, things that don’t really have a strong visual weren’t working well,” Kimberly said. “People don’t want to read through a post with a large chunk of text.”

She said they started discussing a ‘less is more’ strategy and considering goals other than gathering leads through their social platforms.

The team had been using stock photos, so as a part of their strategy shift, Kimberly emphasized the importance of moving away from those images.

“Stock images make it feel like you’re being sold something,” Kimberly said. “It doesn’t have that personal touch and connection. It’s harder for patients to engage with and relate to that.”

Now the team is working to create more visually engaging posts, including infographics, videos, and user-generated content.

Anything that comes directly from patients is just more raw and organic, and it does pretty well for us. Kimberly Erskine
Kimberly explained while user-generated content can be difficult to obtain, it’s worth it. “Anything that comes directly from patients is just more raw and organic, and it does pretty well for us,” she said.

And in alignment with their more visually compelling strategy, the team has begun experimenting with Facebook profile frames as a way to create more awareness for the Penn Medicine brand.

“The only challenge is that Facebook seems to be really limited in how much data we can get on them,” she said. “So, we’re not sure how many people are actually using the frames or what kind of effect they’re having. We’re seeing them being used, we just don’t have a way to measure that yet.”

Creating more visual and streamlined content requires regular cross-team communication.

Kimberly and her team work closely with their creative team to create infographics and develop new strategies to make their posts more engaging.

Kimberly said as they’re launching the new campaign, they’re trying to work with different departments outside of marketing to get everyone on the same page — but getting everyone in the same room can be a bit challenging. “We’re trying to make that happen at least once a month,” she said.

Another key aspect of the new strategy is engaging with patients on social media in a more personal way.

Penn Medicine is made up of people — physicians, doctors, and staff members — that really care about the patients. Kimberly Erskine
“We want people to see us as humans they can relate to,” Kimberly said. “Penn Medicine is made up of people — physicians, doctors, and staff members — that really care about the patients.”

The team is working to respond to comments in a way that makes the commenter feel like real people are conversing with them — not sending generic canned responses.

“Some of these people might be limited in how often they can go out and how many conversations they have each day because they’re sick,” Kimberly said. “Having that personal touch really makes a difference.”

Through refreshing their Facebook content, Kimberly’s team has become more strategic about choosing the best channels for certain types of posts.

They have a social media committee that meets once a month to look at different kinds of applications for their accounts and deciding which channel is most appropriate for each type of content.

“We need to look at different channels beyond just Facebook that we might not have tried before,” Kimberly said. “We want to reach our audience wherever they are, and that’s not always on Facebook.”

She said more clinical things tend to be better suited for Twitter or LinkedIn and they’re working to utilize those channels more.

People don't want to read through a post with a large chunk of text. Kimberly Erskine
“Our LinkedIn gets a surprising amount of engagement. So, we’re working on finding more opportunities for that page, especially with physician-related content rather than patient-facing,” Kimberly said.

According to Kimberly, they’re still experimenting with their Instagram page, but it’s been a good source for them. “We’re trying to include it in our posts more because we know that’s where most of our patients and engaged users are,” she said.

They’re also starting to determine which physicians would be comfortable giving them content to share on Instagram.

Kimberly is looking forward to streamlining the strategy and developing an even more centralized voice for the Penn Medicine Facebook page.

“Ideally, we’d like to post once a day rather than three to five times a day because the page is still getting a little too saturated,” she said. The team also hopes to become more selective about the types of content each department posts to the page and drive consistency by using the same voice and tone across the board.

According to Kimberly, they intend to continue working with creative on developing the best graphics possible. “We want to take our time and make sure they’re amazing,” she said.

For other hospitals looking to refresh their Facebook organic content strategy, Kimberly advised being selective.

She emphasized the importance of choosing the best content to share — and deciding which content should just exist on the website for SEO purposes. “Just because you have a new blog post up doesn’t mean it has to go up on Facebook,” Kimberly said. “It might not make sense to promote it there.”

She said it’s also important to think visually and consider different ways to approach your existing content. “If you have a blog post or other kind of written content that you’ve decided to share on Facebook, think about ways you can create an image based on that,” Kimberly said. “Then, you can promote the same content in a different format.”

Kimberly Erskine has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.