Digital communications and social media

Digital communication and social media should be at the heart of your campaign. By leveraging social media, you can reach your audience in an instant. People spend hours every day on their phones and on social media, so this is the perfect platform to capture at least some of their attention to highlight what you are offering - in this case, the ability to access their health record.

Whereas television, radio or print advertising traditionally facilitated one-way conversations (a message is printed and money is spent to get the message in front of the public), social media has fundamentally changed the way that communication works. In this digital age, we can essentially create a public forum for communication between an organisation and its users (or patients). Communication between organisations and their customers is now a two-way street, enabling patients to engage with their healthcare service in a completely new way.

Campaign messaging lends itself to social media content. The message is simple and clear and can be shared directly. If relevant, you can also target specific groups and create an instant dialogue with them. However, when thinking about which social media platforms to use, understanding your audience is key.

According to an Ofcom report published in 2019, half of UK adults now use social media for their news - 35% of people use Facebook as a source for news. Household internet take-up is at 87%; and 79% of UK adults personally own a smartphone. With this in mind, social media is an extremely powerful tool to engage with both patients and staff.

Did you know?

According to YouGov, the top 3 most popular social networks in the UK are:

  • 55% - Facebook: the most popular and most famous social network
  • 42% - Instagram: the 2nd most popular and 3rd most famous network
  • 40% - Twitter: the 3rd most popular and 2nd most famous network


Facebook: this is a fairly informal social platform, and many NHS organisations use Facebook pages to stay in contact with their local community and staff.

Top tip! You can use paid-for services such as Facebook Ads or promoted posts to reach certain demographics, such as by age, location, or specific interests.


Instagram: an online image and video sharing platform primarily accessed via mobile devices (as an app). Although Instagram isn’t typically used within healthcare organisations, it could be an innovative channel to communicate your offer. For example, you could feature images of existing staff that patients may recognise, in the environment they work in. Think about how to make your posts eye-catching, and use relevant hashtags in the description to link your images together.


Twitter: There are over 330 million active users on Twitter. To use Twitter effectively, use hashtags such as #AccessYourRecord, to get noticed. You can also search Twitter for conversations and content relating to health records or patients in your local area. To learn more about using Twitter, see our ‘How to’ guide.


LinkedIn: a social media networking site specifically designed for professionals, which has around 260 active users. That means a significant proportion of your workforce - and staff from partnership organisations - could be reached using LinkedIn.


YouTube: Video is fast becoming a mainstream communication channel of choice. With video creation and editing software tools now readily accessible, it’s easier than ever to create quick, straightforward and polished video content, and YouTube is a key platform for hosting and sharing this type of content. You can group your videos together using a YouTube channel. Think about how you can bring the campaign to life with short films that help to relay your key messages.


Top tips!

  • Familiarise yourself with your organisation’s social media policy.
  • Always write content that is appropriate to the channel. You could start by looking through Twitter or Facebook timelines to get a feel for language, style and tone.
  • Reply, mention and follow others to build an engaged online community, and be responsive – make sure you have someone who is able to respond to queries in a timely fashion.
  • Use a short hashtag that is relevant and memorable, i.e. #MobileHealthcare.
  • Incorporate multimedia – images, graphics, videos, and GIFs will help your content go further. Research suggests that using images on Twitter results in 150% more retweets and 18% more clicks.
  • Include backlinks to your website – using a link shortener like Ow.ly or Bitly will help you to track links, which can be useful for evaluation.
  • Tag key stakeholders in your posts; for example, local organisations that can help spread the message.
  • Test your timing of social media posts to assess what works best for your audience.
  • Be constant and consistent - draw up a social media calendar of activity before you begin to ensure information is sent out regularly. A scheduling tool like Hootsuite is helpful in allowing you to plan social media posts across all your platforms in one go.


Other important things to think about

  • Is it obvious where patients can find information about how to register on your website? Which areas of your website are patients most likely to navigate towards, and could you add digital banners on those pages?
  • Is your web content easily accessible on a smartphone?
  • Will patients be able to find the information they are looking for using search engines?
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): What are the keywords that patients might use in online searches, e.g. ‘health records’. Make sure these are used on relevant web pages and inserted into your website metadata.
  • Use plain English and avoid jargon in your copy.

Example of Social Media Post (Facebook)