Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dear CEO, this is how you use social media.

“But HIPAA keeps us from doing social media.”

In light of the above let’s make this simple today by asking this question.  How would the hospital or health system like to create a sustainable, engaging and experienced-based social media strategy and program?

The use of social media for engagement and experience management is one of the business plans for today to grow revenue, market share, and brand.  When one considers that the healthcare consumer and patient have over 145 hospital touch-points impacting experience, engagement and their decision making choices, social media is now a strategic business imperative, not a nice to have.

Marketing is no longer about puffery, grandiose statements or claims of excellence without proof.  That doesn’t work in a retail consumer- driven market.  Marketing in 2017, 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.

So let’s keep this simple and avoid the obvious telltale response of why we can’t do social media. And since the vast majority of providers are still enamored with bricks and mortar with shiny new high-tech equipment and messaging all about you and we care more than the next guy, here is how you can use social media to drive revenue, growth, and brand.

We start today’s lesson with how you would use social media to promote a new MRI. No worry about PHI here! It’s shiny, new and in a building.  

Start with the social media basics and integrate across and channels.

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

From the above, you have just used nine social media channels with integrated, clear and concise messaging about the provider and how you use a particular diagnostic tool that looks cool.  There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Now what?

It’s all about alignment in the new word-of-mouth world that is social media.

Effective social media utilization requires 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. 

It comes down to the following seven key factors. 

1.       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 seeking. Know what social media platforms they use to gather information and engage. Secondary research may give one a clue in how to proceed with primary market research in the hospital service area, but these are guides only.  
2.       Build a social media content plan 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 buy-in. If leadership does not support the plan or is not engaged in the effort, stop now and find something else to do. 
3.       Evaluate continuously 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. 
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.  Listen very carefully to the voice and content in social media and responds 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 sufficient is marketing IT resources and systems for measurement, automation and reporting on social media channels and activities.

Social media done correctly will drive revenue, market share, growth, engagement, and brand. 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 environment, social media use builds presence and drives preference.  And you can’t grow revenue, market share, and brand without social media.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

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

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