Sunday, April 8, 2018

Social Media Use for Hospitals, the Easy Guide to Message and Channel Integration

Social media isn’t hard. What is hard is developing the strategy, content and then integrating your messages across multiple channels. Since the healthcare consumer and patient are omnichannel, hospitals and health systems must be as well. It’s an online world that moves beyond the brick and mortar features approach still prevalent in today’s hospital marketing.

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 a strategic business imperative.

Effective hospital marketing is 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?

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 in alignment with the healthcare enterprise; the content can integrate across your social media channels and platforms seen by the healthcare consumer and patient. 

It comes down to the following 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 searching out. Know what social media platforms they use to gather information and engage. Secondary research may give one 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, and calendar fully 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 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. 
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. And listen. Listen very carefully to dialogue and tone of the conversations and respond 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 the appropriate marketing 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. 

The healthcare consumer and patient is omnichannel. You need to be too in a consistent and engaging manner. And in a retail medical environment, presence builds preference.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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