Background: Although health care organizations such as hospitals and clinics have widely embraced social media as a means to educate the community on health topics and increase patient loyalty and satisfaction, little is known about the content these organizations actually share when using social media channels.
Objective: This study aimed to explore the types of content US hospitals post on their Facebook pages and how hospitals’ Facebook activities differ with regard to content types.
Methods: We collected and thematically analyzed more than 1700 Facebook posts made over a 3-month period by 17 US hospitals. During the first phase, the 2 researchers coded a set of 159 posts and created an initial thematic web of content. During the second phase, the researchers coded the remaining posts and then revised, refined, and validated the initial web of content accordingly. Coding consensus was achieved on 1184 of the 1548 analyzable sampled posts (76.49%).
Results: We identified a list of 13 unique health social media post themes and classified those themes into 3 thematic groups that included announcing, sharing, and recognizing activities. The most frequently used theme was sharing health information, which appeared in 35.81% (424/1184) of the posts analyzed. Such posts sought to provide health tips and advice to community members. Recognizing special days and recognizing employees were the second and third most frequently used themes, respectively, with 14.95% (177/1184) and 11.82% (140/1184) of the posts containing those themes. The frequency of these themes was surprising as the content was geared more toward stakeholders internal to the organization, although most previous literature has focused on social media as a tool to connect with external stakeholders. In addition, we found many of the posts involved more than one theme, and selected sets of themes co-occurred frequently. For example, 25.4% (45/177) of the posts recognizing special days also included content to share health information, and approximately 38% (32/85) of the posts announcing research activities also included content to share health information. Finally, we found similarities and differences between the sampled hospitals in terms of the types of content they posted more frequently on their Facebook pages.
Conclusions: Hospitals use Facebook as an inexpensive way to educate people on health and wellness topics and to communicate different types of information and news to the public audience. Hospitals and clinics that are expanding their social media activities or are starting to embark on social media strategies can use the results of this study to better formulate their activities on Facebook.
Kordzadeh, N., & Young, D. K. (2018). Exploring hospitals' use of Facebook: Thematic analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(5), Article e190. http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9549
Journal of Medical Internet Research
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