Social media, simple for hospitals still waiting

Okay, social media tools seem like they’re here to stay (dripping sarcasm) and if your hospital isn’t on this list (only 367 hospitals have any kind of social media presence, that leaves a few thousand still to start), it’s really time to be there.

You don’t need a social media expert to jump in, many of them are selling snake oil anyway.  Send an email to everyone in your organization asking for assistance if you’re uncomfortable, someone will respond.  It’s really pretty easy.

There is a minimum level where health care organizations should be with social media.  Here it is:

  • Have an account on the major networks in descending order of priority: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.  The others don’t matter much.
  • Pay attention to two things 1) people that are talking about you and 2) people who are talking to you, which nicely segues into the most important point…
  • Encourage conversation, not dissemination.  Unless you are Mayo or the Cleveland Clinic or maybe five other hospitals in the United States, people are not going to follow/friend/fan your organization for health information.  Sure, work in the topical stuff.  You’re much better off carrying on conversations with locals, but don’t just push.

    Press releases: boring.  Job announcements: also boring (if you want to do it, separate the functions between two accounts).  Is there a place for pushed content? Yes, as long as you’re also having a conversation with the the folks who follow you about said content (no one wants to talk about your press release? that’s a clue…).  (Here’s a great example of a Twitter account that only pushes, this article says the company is using it to recruit physicians.  This will be the success rate: zero).

    Even though social media allows you to spread your brand worldwide, think logically about what you’re trying to do: engage locally.  Almost everyone in Seattle doesn’t care about your hospital in Tuscaloosa.  Health care has always been a very locally delivered service (if you’re trying to catch national notoriety for your social media work, that ship has mostly sailed unless you’re doing something really cool…).  So focus on the locals.  Have conversations with patients about your services.  Help them if they have a problem.  Highlight local events.  Hold a contest.  Build partnerships with other agencies to develop a unified approach to crisis communication.  Etc.

There it is.  If you’re ready to get all strategic on social media, start here.

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