Social media in healthcare: people + planning before posting

Putting up a Facebook page does not constitute a social media strategy for a healthcare organization. Social media is but one part of an overall inbound marketing program that can help pull people to your healthcare brand, and it uses the power of community and conversation to do so. Authentic healthcare brands understand this dynamic and take the time to consider what motivates people—those inside your organization and the consumers you serve—to interact within this space. Combine this audience insight with proper policy planning, and the odds of a successful social media strategy will increase exponentially.

Consider these planning steps and resources before you start creating social media channels for your healthcare organization:

1. Listen to what people are already saying about you. There are a number of tools available you can use to monitor conversations about your brand and healthcare as a whole. They range from the basics such as Google Alert and  Twitter searches to more comprehensive platforms such as Trackur, SocialMention and Addictomatic. By listening to the people around you first, you can gain insights that can help you develop relevant strategies for content development.

2. See who’s doing it right out there. We’re a big fan of Ed Bennet, a web strategist at the University of Maryland Medical System. Ed understands that social media is no longer a marketing luxury, but the new standard in responsible communications—and he doesn’t shy away from telling you that. Check out his Found in Cache, a social media resource for healthcare professionals. In addition to some inspiring case studies, you’ll find a list of social media policies developed by a number of hospitals and other healthcare related groups.

3. Develop a social media policy that acknowledges the power of employees as brand advocates. We love this post from Bill Weider, CandidCIO, whose willingness to put a draft of his healthcare organization’s social media policy right there on his blog—and ask for feedback on it—epitomizes the spirit of open source collaboration among professionals. Secondly, we applaud his acknowledgement of employees as the strongest online influencers a healthcare brand can have.

4. Address and protect patient confidentiality and routing of clinical questions. The University of Texas: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center does a nice job of specifying social media protocols as it relates to patient confidentiality, and provides instructions for appropriate routing of clinical questions. Mayo Clinic also provides easy-to-understand guidelines to employees on appropriate participation in blogs and other social media channels. Posting the guidelines within the blog, for all to see, is reflective of Mayo’s open attitude toward social media and appeals to the employees’ sense of goodwill toward patients.

5. Develop a strategy for interdepartmental collaboration and engagement. Don’t develop your social media policy, marketing strategy, or workflow plan in a silo. While the marketing department should lead and manage this endeavor, it’s important to remember that social media is of, for, and by the people. That includes other people in your healthcare organization. Take the time to engage these influencers from the beginning, and you’ll reap the benefits in the end.

This entry was written by Teresa Coles, posted on September 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm, filed under Offerings, Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

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