Recently, I attended the Health Care Social Media Summit (#mayoragan), co-hosted by the Mayo Clinic and Ragan Communications. The engagement around social
media for hospitals is healthy and vigorous, as health care marketers look for ways to influence behavioral change and increase awareness of their brands.
One thing I heard in almost every session was that social media is about building communities. If this is true, then why are we are we still calling it
social media? Social media is simply a set of communication technologies that allow us, as marketers, to interact directly with our customers.
Stop saying social media. Start saying community engagement. When you sell a service like health care, you are asking people to change their behavior—to
choose your doctor/hospital/clinic instead of another. Most people find greater success when a community supports their behavioral changes. Focus on
building a community, rather than on channels, technology or deployment.
5 ways to start engaging patients
Listen more than you speak:
It’s an easy enough adage. Social media is a great monitoring tool. Yes, you should be tweeting and posting relevant important information about your
hospital or health system, but remember to listen. Use social media as a way to connect directly to your users—there’s nothing between you but a screen.
Have a great story to tell:
You don’t always need to have a super touching narrative to tell, but have stories in your back pocket you use to engage people. As human beings, we have
an aching need to connect. Don’t forget how you learned your earliest lessons about life—from stories. Make sure you are using different types of stories
as you engage with your communities.
Focus on your content:
Content is a BIG word for a much smaller word—information. Think about it. When you hear content, you probably get nervous. When you hear information, it’s
an easy, familiar concept. So remember, your content is simply information molded into a recognizable content type for your users. Ads, direct mail, press
releases, tweets and posts—they are all versions of content that people instantaneously recognize. Work this and choose the right type of content to best
serve the story.
Hire a community engagement manager—NOT a social media person:
What I hear is that most hospitals want to hire a social media “guy” or “gal.” What you need is someone who understands how to transform your hospital’s
online social activities into a community. Then the engagement part needs to happen by LISTENING to what patients, families and visitors want and need.
Community engagement is really the intersection of several different parts of an organization: marketing, PR, customer service, crisis communications and
emergency response. Work with other people in those departments: ensure you are delivering the best possible experience for your customers as they engage
with your brand using these technologies.
Ahava Leitbag is a digital strategist and content creator. You can read more