How Twitter takeover by Elon Musk, transgender care misinformation affect digital marketing at Lurie's

As Elon Musk continues his takeover of Twitter, making dramatic changes like charging subscriptions for blue checkmarks, hospital and health system marketing chiefs are monitoring how it will affect their strategy on the social media platform.

Becker's asked Kary McIlwain, chief marketing and communications officer of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, what the shifts at Twitter might mean for the way her hospital interacts with the site.

Question: Will the new ownership of Twitter alter your hospital's Twitter marketing strategy?

Kary McIlwain: We hope not. Elon Musk is talking about a more open platform, but he is also talking about filters. We will wait and see how this balance plays out. If we see an uptick in misinformation and hate speech, particularly related to gender-affirming care, we will change our strategy.

Q: Has misinformation and hate speech about gender-affirming care been an issue you've run into on social media?

KM: Oh yes! And in fake newspapers dropped at people's homes during the election.

Q: How effective has Twitter been as a marketing tool for your hospital?

KM: We use Twitter as a provider/academic tool and in that regard it is fairly effective. We share research press releases and other applicable news that other providers and researcher scientists may be interested in.

Q: What social media platforms have you found to be most effective for hospital marketing?

KM: They all have a different role.

Facebook helps us reach special interest groups and grateful parents. Instagram allows us to visually celebrate our patient and provider stories, Twitter, like Doximity, gives us a more professional-to-professional connection: provider to provider/ research community.

And LinkedIn is a showcase for our talent and recruiting. We also love YouTube for videos, demonstrating surgery, etc.

Q: What social media platforms do you avoid and why?

KM: We avoid Snapchat (too young, temporary) and until recently we avoided TikTok, but after some testing it is a good platform for reaching recruits and young moms.

Q: What are the pros and cons of marketing a hospital through social media?

KM: Nothing different from any other brand: The pros are reach, targeting, dialogue, in some cases sight, sound and motion.

The main con is also a pro — dialogue — we have to accept the comments or turn off commenting, which we only do in very rare cases [like with the transgender care issue].

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