Be more social
No matter how often I hear this statement, I still can’t believe it: “We don’t do social media.”
Yet, that’s exactly what some healthcare marketers say to me when I start talking about using social to help with reaching a particular marketing goal.
Despite the meteoric rise of social marketing, only about a quarter of the more than 5700 hospitals in the U.S. use social media today.
But given that more than 40 percent of people say they use social media as a health care resource (Source: National Research Corp. 2011) more hospitals and healthcare organizations could do themselves a favor and start “doing” social as part of an integrated marketing strategy to reach their target audiences.
In fact, when done right, social dovetails nicely with traditional and interactive tactics. For instance, a print ad can drive to your website or landing page which can link to your Facebook page which can, in turn, create more awareness for your brand. Plus, social can move the needle for larger, more strategic goals for the organization.
Still not swayed that social should be part of your marketing mix? Here are five more reasons:
#1: Social is efficient. For far less than the time and money it takes to create, write, design and place an ad or update your website, a social campaign can help you tell your story visually through image-based posts. With only a short lead time from creative to executive, it’s easy to augment existing info on your corporate site . . . just by creating a different post everyday and sharing it on your social outlets with your already-interested audiences.
#2: Social is timely. Breaking news at your organization? Used to be that traditional PR was the fastest way to get the word out. But today, having a social strategy in place can help you get crisis communications or newsworthy happenings at your organization out in virtually seconds. Best of all, with social you control the conversation and can easily squelch any negative feedback or comments immediately.
#3: Social can help spotlight a number of areas of excellence. In a recent campaign, our agency recommended that a healthcare system showcase one clinical specialty or health-related cause per month on social. With this approach, the client was able to create more continuity with messaging for the particular area of excellence as well as strengthen awareness for its entire brand. Not to mention drive more patients to its front door.
#4: Social can be measured. Thanks to the very measurable nature of social, hospital marketers can get a nearly instant read on how a campaign is doing via likes, shares and retweets. But more than that, we find these “metrics” can have an impact on overall hospital ROI. For example, let’s say one of a hospital’s strategic objectives is to help more patients at their new heart center. So a social campaign that drives people to attend “heart health” classes, can in turn get more people to join groups on this topic, which can then increase overall traffic to the hospital’s cardio website for more info, possibly boosting call volumes for a particular service and ultimately paving the way for more visits to their heart center.
#5: Social can help create good will. Often times, we suggest healthcare organizations spotlight nurses or clinicians in social. After all, these are the people that have lots of interaction with patients, a.k.a your friends and followers. Sharing information about them and how they’re helping others on your social channels can translate into more engagement with your hospital. And more good will internally from staffers who don’t usually get as much attention as, say, your physicians.
Bottomline? Try to be more social. Just might be good for your brand.