Everyone is abuzz about the social media. Yet its application for healthcare is not entirely clear. When you consider that 64 percent of word of mouth conversations happen face-to-face and not online, well the luster dims a bit. And when you consider that, unlike other industries that use coupons and other devices to drive immediate sales, healthcare services are something that people, by and large, do not want. We can’t issue a Groupon that says “Buy one nursing home day, get the second free. Act now.” So let’s simplify the social media equation for healthcare organizations.
Here is my take on how healthcare should use the social media.
Facebook - most people are looking for deals, coupons, etc from services and products that they use on an ongoing basis – think restaurants, retail. So it is not a perfect fit for healthcare. However, to the extent that you can build communities of people based on their affinity – caregiver community, Alzheimer’s community, weight loss community, diabetes community – that would help. And for everyone else, it is not about what you do as an organization but about what you share that can help him or her live a healthier life.
You Tube - picking up from the last line above, people will care less about viewing a procedure or process as they will care if your activity professional produces a video on activities elders can do at home to promote quality of life. Provide information people can use. Over time they will remember who provided it and think of you when they need what you offer. That also ties to your CRM efforts in which you collect data about prospects and clients so that you can give them what they want in both marketing and customer experience.
Twitter – the best use is to use one of the many Twitter tools out there and monitor mentions of your company. That is what Comcast does for their company and they identify customer service issues immediately. So using it in service recovery is becoming essential. A family caregiver leaves your facility and tweets about something that went wrong. You can deal with it immediately.
But you can also use these for breaking news that really has an impact and to create flash mobs at events or even in advocacy efforts. Take a cue from the following event.
A flash mob of dancers dressed as grey-haired senior citizens recently hit New York City’s Times Square to draw attention to long-term care insurance. Members danced a choreographed waltz in pairs, while a string quartet accompanied them. After the waltz, the dancers tore off their costumes and began a swing dance number. Following the dancers, an eldercare expert addressed a small crowd of spectators and spoke about the increased need for seniors to purchase long-term care insurance.
The mob was sponsored by non-profit group 3in4 Need More, which focuses on long-term care advocacy and the need for LTC insurance.
The Power of Four
Erik Qualman in a blog post “Social Media Made Simple: The 4 Steps” outlines four steps for success.
- Interact: Join the conversation
- React: Adjust your product or service based on 
Notice what is last? Companies often jump straight to step four, selling. Start with listening. Without listening the other three steps will not happen.
Want a jump start on all of this? A free e-book exploring why and how to use social media in medical marketing is available from bryantBROWN Healthcare. It contains eight short chapters covering:
- An overview of social media and the power of building brands by building databases
- How to craft effective email campaigns
- The 20 websites we all should know
- How to blog your way to success
- Understanding SEO, SEM, and website analytics
- Developing brand advocates
- The value of web alerts
- Repurposing social media content across all media
Don’t be afraid of the social media or think it is too big and too much to handle. And please don’t bow to the gazillion so called social media experts out there who can tell you how it is done or promise incredible SEO ratings for your efforts.
Go slow. Learn and adjust. Watch others and absorb best practices.