Sunday, May 11, 2014

What does it take to implement a strategic healthcare social media program?

Over the past few weeks we have discussed the need for hospitals and health systems to partake of the social media revolution in reaching, engaging and driving the healthcare consumer to make favorable decision and choices.

It’s easy to talk about the rationale about the importance of an effective and efficient hospital or health system social media program.  Or to suggest social media channels as a starting point to drive consumer engagement and business.  It’s another thing to discuss the how you actually do it in a time of scarce marketing resources, lack of knowledge or the willingness to lead change.

What follows for your consideration are steps that need to be taken for a hospital or health system to embark on a fully integrated and effective social media program.

1.       It starts with leadership. If marketing does not have Board, CEO and executive leadership support, it’s not going anywhere. Why? Because it all about resource allocation and slaying some sacred cows.

2.       Improve the organizational marketing process. Let face it, we all do things that don’t make any sense or has become so ingrained it’s done without thinking. Take a step back and look at the marketing processes. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn't work and move those resources to social media.

3.       Find the one person on the organization that knows social media and put them full time on the job or hire someone.  It takes an FTE dedicated to successfully run an integrated, efficient, engaging and effective social media program.

4.       Commit to social media all the time. The challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time.  Attention spans are short.  If someone sees no changes on a pretty regular basis in your content or information, they will fall away.

5.       Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed.

6.       Use social media with your physicians and employees to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.

7.        Do the market research to understand and not guess.

8.       In the end if the resources can’t be allocated or the will is just not there consider outsourcing the social media function.

Bottom line is that the healthcare consumer and patient’s are out in social media searching for the hospital, health system or physician. So it is probably about time that the hospital, health system or physician is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

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