The Right Course: Connecting with Patients One at a Time

Last summer we helped a hospital manage a run/walk for Cancer. We’ve been managing the event for a dozen years, and it operates as a well-oiled machine.

Flickr: chego101

It’s a community event. We arrive in the dark to set up the course. As the sun rises, volunteers begin registering the runners and walkers, members of the high school cross country team take their positions at strategic points to direct the participants through the twists and turns of the course, and at 8 a.m. the starting blast splits the air. They’re off and running/walking.

Our first hint that something was wrong was when volunteers at the walker’s water station called to ask if the race had been delayed. No one had come by the water station yet.

Soon our observers identified the problem. One of the cross-country team members was not in the right spot, and the first walker sped right by a critical turn, everyone behind her following happily along.

Fortunately, she made a turn a quarter-mile later, leading all the walkers to reconnect with the official course and finish the final stretch. Aside from missing the chance to gulp down some water along the way, no harm done. But I couldn’t help imagining the problems if the lead walker had not made the later turn and the whole pack had taken off aimlessly in a new direction.

So what does this experience have to do with hospitals and social media? A number of lessons come to mind, but I’ll focus on just one.

Each person is valuable. One 16-year-old high school athlete out of position sent a bunch of walkers on the wrong course. Even as that happened, a single walker led the whole group on a blissful detour.

As you build your social media program – establishing your Face book page, Twitter account, or YouTube channel, or gathering subscriptions to your e-newsletter – don’t worry so much about huge numbers. Instead, create useful and interesting content that supports your marketing strategy and concentrate on the one.

Each person is important – particularly since you have no idea how many others he or she is influencing.

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