Grab the Tums; Let’s Have a Conversation

By Jean Kelso Sandlin, Senior Strategist

If just thinking about the possibilities of adopting social media for your hospital gives you indigestion­–so many possibilities, so little time–get ready to grab the Tums. Brian Solis and Jess3 just introduced the updated version of The Conversation Prism 3.0. It’s a visual map of the social media landscape organized to indicate where the function of specific social media tools intersects with business purposes – such as sales, marketing, public relations, and crisis management.

Although the options are certainly overwhelming and, at first glance, will definitely have you reaching for your Tums, Solis, once again, has done a wonderful job of turning what could be considered the unwieldy proliferation of social media into a useful strategy tool. He gives marketing directors hope that chaos can be turned into capabilities.

To each category of social media, Solis has attached functions. For example–pictures, discussion boards, location, blog platforms, social networks, video­–28 different functionalities in all…and each one has three to 12 tools within the function. Okay, I admit, there is still a bit of the “Tums-factor” when you glance at it, but if you consider it as a strategy tool, then it can be empowering. For example, how do people find your hospital? There are nine other options besides Google Maps.

Forget the old saying … ignorance is never bliss, and this is especially true in the fast-moving social media landscape. Now, with the help of The Conversation Prism, you can see at a glance what tools you might consider for the function you need, and then investigate the options within the function to make the right choice for your specific need.

As he relays in his blog, Solis first introduced The Conversation Prism in 2008 when the idea of “listening” and “monitoring” were new concepts for social media. Most companies simply wanted to expand their reach into the social media by engaging everywhere. Whether it was from exhaustion or the lack of results, brand managers and marketing directors soon figured out that trying to engage with everyone was not possible, and not good strategy. The focus soon became listening, monitoring and, when appropriate, engaging in conversation.

Solis explained that his 2.0 version unveiled in 2009 was designed “to inspire the socialization of business and to introduce conversational touchpoints across the organization.” That means that social media is not just the job of the marketing director anymore … although marketing directors can be helpful in pointing staff to the opportunities. For example, the director of a hospital’s Sleep Center might be encouraged to engage with a local insomniacs chat room to let participants know that most insurance companies will cover a sleep study for patients with persistent insomnia, and invite participants to tour the center. The director will have more credibility than the marketing director and be able to converse in more depth about the Sleep Center’s services.

Solis and Jess3 make a download of The Conversation Prism available for free, or if you want to impress your hospital colleagues with the opportunities in social media, you can order the poster to hang in your office. Hmmm, all those social media options staring you in the face all day…pass the Tums.

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