Saturday, February 21, 2015

Learning to love social media- the easy button hospital guide?

Or, how would the hospital or health system like to create a sustainable, engaging and experienced based social media strategy and program?

Both questions are equally important and two sides of the same coin. Use of social media for engagement and experience management, can be a hit or miss proposition without the proper strategy and resourcing. When one considers that the healthcare consumer and patient have over 145 touch-points that impact experience, engagement and their decision making choices, social media is now a strategic business imperative, not a nice to have.

Provider marketing is no longer about puffery, grandiose statements or claims of excellence without proof.  That doesn’t work in a retail consumer- driven market. Provider marketing is now about meaningful engagement, managing the experience and meeting the healthcare consumer’s needs and expectations.

A tall order indeed that takes a strategic business outlook, an unrelenting  focus on the meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer, is meaningfully engaging and manages the experience across all touch-points, not just one to two.

What does the provider need?

First is an understanding of the social media channels that the hospital or health system needs to be participating in.  The following slide illustrates the easy button guide to the hospital using social media.

Now what?

Alignment. Alignment.  Alignment.

With clinical. With physicians. With executive leadership.  With the business plan. With the entire healthcare enterprise.

Effective social media utilization does require alignment and integration.  Danger alert- it can be very tempting to assign social media to one person and start publishing by throwing a lot of stuff against the wall.  To be successful in social media, it takes planning and execution that is in alignment with the healthcare enterprise, and the messaging is integrated across the social media channels and platforms that the healthcare consumer and patient is found. 

It comes down to the following key factors.
  • Do the market research. If you don’t know what social media platforms the healthcare consumer and patients are engaging in, then how can one decide what social media platforms to choose?  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. Secondary research may give one clues in how to proceed with primary market research in the hospital service area, but these are guides only.
  • Build a social media content plan that is integrated into the overall marketing plan and strategy of 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. Obtain executive by-in. If leadership does not support the plan or is not engaged in the effort, stop now and go find something else to do.
  • Evaluate constantly and learn what the healthcare consumer likes and doesn’t like. Test messages. Test engagement strategies.  Fail fast and become the learning organization and not repeating the same mistakes.
  • 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 what is being said in social media and responds accordingly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Budget marketing IT resources and systems for measurement, automation and reporting on social media channels and activities.
Social media done correctly will drive engagement, revenue and growth. It will also provide the healthcare enterprise with a continuous presence in the market that supports and is part of all the other marketing activities.  

In a retail medical retail environment, presence builds preference.

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