As I look across the hospital and health system landscape, one thing that has struck me for the most part, is that little attention is paid to social media outside of using it as a billboard for various programs and announcements. Doesn't matter whether or not if it's a clinical service or wellness program to heralding quality awards, its static. There seems to be a lack of creativity and engagement that one would think is the hallmark of a vibrant healthcare consumer engagement strategy on a social media platform.
But then, maybe that is the problem and the solution? That there is no vibrant social media strategy to engage the healthcare consumer, so it just becomes another marketing channel to yell at someone about how you provide " world-class" care.
Okay, that's a little synclinal, but healthcare is evolving in ways we didn't imagine which includes how networked the healthcare consumer is today. Yet we continue to reach out to that networked healthcare consumer with social media like its nothing more than an advertising platform.
Here are 10 steps you can take and turn a moribund social media effort into a strategic social media engagement:
1) Engage the healthcare consumer with the CEO and medical leadership. No more hiding in the background to come out when there is good news an or an award. Leadership guided by marketing, should be out in front in social media. If you're a for-profit, that means paying particular attention to SEC regulations about what you can and cannot say, but it's not impossible.
2) Encourage the healthcare consumer to interact with you. Social media is about active engagement not passivity or reactive yelling at someone. The consumer won't react with you as long as your efforts are perceived as nothing more than an ad billboard.
3) Integrate your blog, website, LinkedIn, twitter, facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pintrest and other social mediums. Understand where your healthcare consumer goes and be there. If you're not there then create a presence.
4) Sorry Mr. CFO, the game has changed. Hire somebody full -time. This is not a part-time effort or strategy. You can't just give this to someone on top of all that they are accomplishing. Devote resources, budget, time and personnel for the task. Your challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time.
5) Be clear about your messages and what value using these tools will bring to your healthcare consumers. The purpose is to engage in a dialogue not shout at them. You have to understand what type of information and content your consumers want. Without that knowledge you can say whatever you want, but chances are no one will be reading, responding or listening.
6) Remember at all times your are building brand, perception and experience. This just isn't nice to have, people will remember what you say and do. Be right the first time.
7) Measure everything. Evaluate. Adjust based on your findings.
8) Be creative, don't limit yourself to the tried and true or what a competitor is doing. Be an innovator.
9) Use social media with your physicians and employees to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.
10) Have fun with it and build excitement around what you are doing. Nobody like dry, boring or stuffy. Social media is interactive and has a tone all of its own. What's your tone? Set it or someone else will set it for you.
The patient and healthcare consumer of today are social media savvy and networked to the nth degree. They expect the same of you.
Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. Like us on facebook at the michael J group.