Saturday, November 7, 2015

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

A lot of discussions occurs nearly every day regarding social media in healthcare.  Providers and some vendors still continue to lag in taking advantage of this channel for amplification of the brand message. The need for healthcare companies to actively use and mine the social media channels in reaching, engaging and influencing favorable decision and choices is no longer a nice to have but a business critical skill competency.

It’s easy to talk about the rationale and the importance of an effective and efficient social media program.  Or, to suggest social media channels as a starting point to drive engagement and business. It’s another thing to discuss the how you 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 within providers and vendors to embark on an integrated and measurable 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 we react 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 in the organization that knows social media and put them full time on the job or hire someone.  It takes an FTE dedicated to run a successfully integrated, efficient, and engaging 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 brand evangelists, followers, customers, physicians, employees, etc., to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.
7.       Develop a content plan and editorial calendar.
8.       Repurpose all content across social media channels.
9.        Make it interesting and about the challenges the organization is solving.  All about you is boring and glossed over.  All about your customer’s or patient’s and how you are helping will.
10.   In the end if the human resources are not available in the department, consider outsourcing the social media function.
The bottom line is that the multiple stakeholders and audiences are out in social media searching for answers.  So it is probably about time that the provider or vendor is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

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

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