Sunday, June 10, 2018

It’s Not Social Media Anymore. Social Has Become the New Mainstream Media. Now what?

A funny thing happened to what was ‘social’ media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Instagram, etc., where communities of people formed and came together to share funny videos of baby’s and dogs and photos of “here are the dishes I am having for dinner” postings.

Social media platforms have evolved for better or for worse into the new mainstream media #NMM. Twitter and other platforms now drive the news cycle. A racist tweet comes out, and a TV show canceled. The last petulant Twitter escapades of POTUS make headlines. Reporters post their stories on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard for example, before they ever hit the website or print editions. 

Reporters who previously loathed the ICYMT in an email, now use the acronym to accompany their story posts and reposts.

Action and reaction drive the news cycle. Everyone is a reporter without the benefit of an editor or having to fact check. “If it’s on the Internet and social media than it must be true.” A statement which has gone from being a standard joke to some ridiculousness posted, to the new standard of acceptability as true without verification.

What does the mean for hospitals and health systems?  

It means a new approach strategically and tactically to social media. Strategy and tactics that are proactive for media news generation that is much more serious and refined. An evolution from the look at what we do, evolving to the significant news of the day that will have an impact on your health and wellness. From pretty pictures of buildings and smiling staff, to content and messaging that will impact the news cycles. From hoping someone will follow the hospital to following reporters and editors to pitch the news.

Consider the following hypotheticals. A person decides to examine the hospital history of malpractice settlement and tweets out the findings. Someone takes the mortality rate information from CMS and computes the number of patients that die in the hospital each year and say it is from preventable medical errors.

No warning. No anonymous news tips to reporters or assignments editors. A tweet. Blog posts. A Facebook post. A YouTube commentary. The story goes viral. News media outlets pick it up, and now there is a media crisis communications situation.

Do you still think social media is unimportant or just fluff?

It’s the new mainstream media.

And if you aren’t finding ways to leverage and build relationships with reporters and key influencers using the new mainstream media, then you risk losing control of the narrative you want in the market.

It’s time to stop calling them ‘social.’

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives,  and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is an established influencer. Inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

What is Your Hospital Marketing Strategy Around Micro-Influencers?

All health care is local and is shaped by events nationally, regionally and locally. Changes in healthcare policy and reimbursement such as the Affordable Care Act, state regulatory action, and new or experimental payment methodologies change the game on a regular basis. 

But in the end, it still comes down to medical care delivered in the physician’s office, the local hospital and other alternative and nearby ambulatory care settings that may or may not be hospital-based. Places of care where the healthcare consumer forms opinions and then shares in a variety of ways.

Even with all the market uncertainty, growing healthcare consumerism, data transparency driven by third parties along price and outcomes, retail innovation and non-traditional competition, health care is still a game of influence.  

Many hospitals and health systems are turning to macro-influencers to promote the brand in pithy clever campaigns. Then you see the same macro-influencers in the same market promoting other non-healthcare brands.  One must ask if they are really influencing the hospital brand in the market or just causing confusion? And what happens when the macro-influencers go bad?

The time had come for creating a brand strategy around the micro-influencer.

Instead of macro influencers like celebrities which have a limited lifespan and are fraught with their endorsement dangers from ill-advised behavior or comments in social media on a much larger scale, it’s time for a better influencer strategy.

The age of impactful micro-influencers is here.

Micro-influencers are based in the community in the local hospital market and carry more significant weight with the brand endorsements than many realize. Think of it this way, what is of more value to the hospital in swaying the healthcare consumer? The celebrity with millions of followers all over the world, tweeting or blogging about the hospital, or the micro-local influencer with several thousand followers who is blogging about the hospital in the community?

Since most of the healthcare consumer searching for hospital and physician services are online, then the value of using local micro-influencers in the hospital service area increases exponentially.

Micro-influencers are the new word-of-mouth influencers for the hospital and physician.

So how can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?

What it is about is identifying who the micro-influencers are in your local market and building long-term relationships. It’s like making a friend. Would one make a friend just by tweeting or commenting on a Facebook post or reading a blog? No magic bag of tricks here.  It takes hard work, but the micro-influencer of choice payoff for you is brand growth and revenue. Now, who doesn’t want that?

Since influencing the influencers is all about relationship building, it’s about getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, writing a personal email.  Influencing the influencers is traditional stuff that healthcare marketer’s use to do and still do to a certain extent, but instead, chase the shiny new channel or technique. Its old-fashioned relationship-building applied to a new way of reaching people.

Consider the following.

Micro-influencers can assist in recommending insurance plans one is a provider member of in the exchanges. Influencers can recommend hospital friendly physicians.  Influencers can make a great difference and speed up the brand and reputation recover efforts after a major public relations or media disaster. Micro-influencers work and live in the community and our friends, family members, community leaders, and local radio personalities, etc.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Adding an influence, the micro- influencer’s component into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some very large long-term brand, reputation and revenue impacts.

Why isn’t a micro-influencing strategy part of your hospital marketing?

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Changing the Role of Hospital Marketing for Today’s Market, Six Essential Steps.


I came across an old post from December 2010 written with the passage of the Affordable Care Act on how the role of hospital marketing needed to change to meet the new evolving consumer-directed marketplace.  Then in 2012, a reader asked if hospital marketing had changed nearly two years later. My answer is 2012, sadly enough not much has changed in the current state and role of hospital marketing.  

Today on May 20, 2018, nearly eight-year after the original post, I decided to revisit the question. The answer is still; not much has changed overall. 

Oh, we have added an expanded social media and online practice, but much of the changing role and strategic marketing leadership that I envisioned with the passage of the Affordable Care Act hasn't taken place.  It's pretty much standard operations as in the past.  And that is disappointing. 

Understand that I am not talking about pharma, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies, suppliers and retailers moving into the healthcare space.  They get it.  A few hospitals and health systems get it. They understand the power and importance of marketing.  

What I wrote about eight years ago, still stands. Hospitals are falling behind daily in their overall marketing, engagement of the healthcare consumer and managing the patient/consumer experience.  

One new concept added to the post is marketing to the health insurance exchange consumers. Why? It’s an opportunity to have people select insurance plans in which you are a network provider. It’s is potentially a brand marketing opportunity that few if any hospital tries to take a competitive advantage. Hoping the buyer of an insurance plan where you are one of the network hospitals is not a strategy. 

Here we go….again. 

Marketing Leadership 

Marketing is strategy first, tactics second.  The voice of marketing should reflect the voice of your customers and not be a second thought.   Your future programs and services should be determined by the needs of the market, not your gut feeling.  You cannot become a customer-driven or market-driven organization if the skills and experiences of marketing are not at the leadership table. 

Managing the Patient Experience 

If anyone is prepared to understand and manage the patient experience across the organization, it's marketing. Patient experience means just that- understanding what that patient experience is at all touch points. And then changing or managing that experience to its fullest potential for the benefit of the patient and the organization. Patient experience is an integrating process across the entire organization internally and externally.  One organization to the patient, one patient to the organization. It is not simply another quality program or flavor of the day.  

Understanding and Executing Demand Management 

The hospital is no longer the center of the healthcare universe.  It isn’t about “putting heads in the beds” anymore. The Affordable Care Act is designed to keep people out of the hospital.  Outside of emergency care, care for complex acute medical conditions and intensive care, hospital admission is a defect in the process of care. Marketing needs to understand what the demand for healthcare services will be, when they will be needed and manage that demand is making sure that the hospital or health system has the right resources, in the right place, at the right time to meet demand.  Gone are the days where marketing departments will be driving demand to fill hospital beds. They will drive demand to the appropriate place and location of service. 

Becoming a Revenue Marketer and Having Revenue Accountability 

Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) is necessary for anything marketing accomplishes, traditionally, socially or online. Marketers in healthcare organizations need to become revenue producers, not resource consumers that show little value beyond, it looks nice.  In fact, marketing should have P&L as well as an SG&A accountability for many of the products and services offered by a healthcare organization. 

Marketing the Manager of Change 

Who better in an organization than for marketing to manage the healthcare organizations transformation from an inward-focused it's all about me, to an outward-focused market and consumer-driven organization?   Open to much debate, this is probably the most controversial look at the expanding role of marketing.  Individuals who have worked at their organizations all of their careers, do not necessarily have the skills, training or abilities to change an organization in any meaningful, transformative way. 

Marketing to the Insurance Exchange Consumer 

Marketing to the exchange consumer is more than negotiating with every plan available and being included. In the new world of consumer-directed healthcare, purchasing health insurance is a big deal. Consumer shopping behavior is clearly at play in the exchanges. When there is a 10 percent difference in premium, the healthcare consumer exhibits consumerist shopping behavior and chooses the lower cost health plan with the narrower restrictive provider panel limiting their choice.

If I were running a hospital, you can bet my marketing department would be figuring out the educational campaign to target those healthcare consumers buying health insurance in the exchanges, teaching them how to buy insurance that included the hospital and the affiliated physicians. And that doesn't mean a list of insurance plans or doctors. 

The role of hospital marketing needs to change sooner rather than later. Eight years is time enough.
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.
For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Hospitals Have the Yips Over ‘Yelpification’ of Healthcare. Here is Your Marketing Response.

I read an interesting article on April 27, 2018, “Providers jittery over the ‘Yelpification’ of healthcare”, Tony Abraham, Healthcare Dive from the Manhattan Institute report, “Yelp for Health”. The striking part of the report is that consumer Yelp reviews and other text-based reviews correlate with Medicare consumer surveys. Oh, oh.

We all know that consumers are increasingly turning to social media to find and select healthcare providers.  Why is that such a surprise?

Now that the horse is out of the barn and not going back anytime soon, what is the hospital to do? 

It’s time to stop having the yips or jitters over patients and consumers using Yelp and other social media channels. It’s now time to respond strategically and tactically from a marketing perspective.

You must get over it organizationally and stop believing your press releases about how great you are. The yips and jitters come from inaction and refusal to accept the reality of the market driven by the growing consumer dominance of healthcare. Consumers desire actionable information and transparency. If you are not going to give them either, then the healthcare consumer will create their version based on their experience for others to learn.  You reap what you sow. And the silence from the hospital is deafening to the consumer. Silence is acceptance and acquiescence on the part of the hospital reinforcing for the consumer that it must be true.

Yul Benner as Rameses in the movie 10 Commandments says it best, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

What to do?

The time for the yips, jitters, and silence on the ‘Yelpification’ of healthcare has passed. It is now time to accept the reality of consumer reviews and treat them like the survival of the hospital and health system depends on them.  After all, the healthcare consumer knows one only needs three services from the hospital or health system, emergency care, intensive care and care for acute complex medical conditions. Period.

It comes down to the following key factors.
1.       Know the audience. Know the markets. Know what information the healthcare consumer is searching out. Know what social media platforms they use to gather information and engage. 
2.       Build a social media response plan and a proactive social media content plan integrated into the overall marketing plan and strategy for the hospital or health system. Include in your plan, goals and objectives, key messages, engagement strategies. How it will be measured and evaluated and who is responsible for executing the plan. What gets measured gets done. 
3.       Monitor, monitor and monitor some more the social media channels where consumers are posting reviews on the hospital, health systems, and physicians. 
4.       Engage and build a meaningful relationship with the healthcare consumer. Stay away from meaningless fluff and anything that looks like it’s all about the organization. And listen. Listen very carefully to social media and respond accordingly. 
5.       Allocate the resources for someone to do this full time all the time.  Don’t say the hospital doesn’t have it.  Reallocate the marketing budget to social media from more traditional areas. 
6.       Invest in staff training on social media, identifying the skills sets that may be lacking and if need be, hire from the outside. Experience counts as the healthcare enterprise does not have the time for trial and error. 
7.       Budget is marketing IT resources and systems for measurement, automation and reporting on social media channels and activities.

There you have it. The beginnings of a strategy and tactical execution plan to meet the healthcare consumer on their terms on their ground.

Or, you can have the yips and jitters about the ‘Yelpification’ of healthcare, feeling sorry for yourself while all around you the healthcare consumer burns and takes you to the ash heap of history.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.