5 Tips for Social Media Success in Healthcare

Healthcare reform and the aging population are not the only forces changing the healthcare landscape: social and digital media are as well, according to Kendra Simpson, vice president of Social@Ogilvy.

Ms. Simpson and Brian Camen, an account director with Social@Ogilvy, discussed strategies healthcare organizations can use to succeed in social media during a June 25 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Medline.

One telling statistic Ms. Simpson shared was 41 percent of people say social media would affect their choice of a specific physician, hospital or medical facility.

For healthcare organizations that are ready to dive into social media, Mr. Camen and Ms. Simpson shared the following as places to start in the social media journey.

1. Know the rules. The Food and Drug Administration recently released draft social media guidance for industry, and Mr. Camen encouraged everyone to take a glance at its contents. He highlighted two key takeaways:

•    Benefit claims and product promotions need to be balanced with risk information
•    Organizations must make an effort to correct misinformation found on different forums, but the FDA will not hold the organization responsible if the website host does not make the correction

2. Content is king. "Good content gets good results," Mr. Camen said. Good content should have a good story, invite people to participate and remind them to spread the word while offering value.

3. Community management. The community manager of a provider's social media account can be the gateway to current consumers and potential brand advocates. The community manager's job is much more than just publishing content — the person needs to be more of a community director, Mr. Camen said. These experts should have the following seven skills:

•    Content creation: Have the ability to show a variety of content types
•    Relationship management: Engage with different kinds of comments
•    Embody the brand's voice: Define what voice is appropriate in the social space
•    Crisis management: Be well-prepared with risk and response scenarios
•    Targeting expertise: Know how to get great results with paid social media
•    Audience segmentation: Understand who the super fans, brand advocates and other audience members are on the social properties
•    Performance analysis: Able to evaluate which metrics are working and which to optimize to improve results

"Gone are the days where companies and brands should throw interns on to manage their social platforms," Ms. Simpson said. Instead, organizations should opt for a seasoned marketer to be their community director.

4. Crisis management. Mr. Camen encouraged organizations to be proactive and develop a crisis management plan for social media platforms that can be used for a variety of events. This can help save time in an active situation and keep everyone on the same page.

5. Talk to consumers in their natural habitat. "Don't make them go out of their way," Mr. Camen said. "Be part of their behavior."

Tied to this is choosing the right social media platform. Though many organizations use Facebook as a jumping-off point for their social media strategy, Ms. Simpson encouraged considering other platforms. For example, starting a YouTube channel may pay dividends because of the platform's relationship with Google. "It allows people to easily find [content] just because they're so closely tied to the search parameters for Google," she said.

She also emphasized the importance of starting small, with possibly one social media platform, rather than jumping onto many platforms all at once. "It's better to do a little really [well] than a lot not so great," she said.

Overall, to find success in social media, healthcare organizations need to find their target audience, maintain consistency and know what's right for their audience.

Download the webinar presentation slides here.

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