This blog is part five of an eight-part series on launching your hospital’s social media strategy.
Confession: I was once an egregious over-committer. One of the strongest traits of my character is that I fall hopelessly in love with a lot of things and I don’t want to be without any of them. So, instead of risking missing something, I tried to do everything. You can imagine how well that went. Or how my husband felt about all these jumbled passions vying for my time. “Honey, I auditioned for a play!”
One of my great adult life lessons, much to my chagrin, is to be realistic. Which often means saying “no.” Or, at least, “not now.” Or, sometimes even, “If I say yes, my husband will give me that look…”
My blog today draws on this lesson learned. In fact, it’s vitally important to be realistic when implementing social media into your hospital’s marketing plan.
Now, before your first tweet or blog, is the time to assess your resources and ask: Who is going to do our social media? And, how? We’re well aware of the packed schedules of most hospital staff, and adding social media responsibilities can seem well nigh impossible. However, two preliminary steps can help:
First, do a careful assessment of your current staff load. Break down your available time and resources and see if anyone is in a position to take on additional tasks. Are there responsibilities that can be shared or transferred?
Second, audit the work you are already doing. Take a hard look at your projects. Is there anything you can eliminate because it is no longer effective? Are there projects that can be outsourced more effectively? We call this a marketing department audit, and if you’re stuck, we can help.
Once you’ve done that, here are some tips for making sure your social media plan doesn’t cause over-committer’s regret:
1. Passion is motivating. Find the person on your team who loves his or her job. Did someone spring immediately to mind? This doesn’t necessarily mean your most outgoing staff member—in fact, many mild-mannered people can be engaging through social media. Passionate people can’t get enough information about what they love. They also want to communicate what fascinates them and stay abreast of developments in their field. Knowledge and experience, combined with personal investment, make compelling social media content.
2. Passion isn’t enough. Okay, I know I just said a lot about love, but passion and realism aren’t mutually exclusive (thank goodness!). The right person for social media doesn’t just harbor passions, he or she manages time well. She can say, “This half hour is for Twitter. Period.” Or, “I will blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I will only take an hour.” She will also be able to set priorities and not be easily distracted. Social media, because of its community aspect, can be hard to unplug. Be sure the person you choose isn’t easily swallowed up in chatter. We’ve given you more tips on how to manage your social media time here: Managing Twitter in 40 Minutes Per Day; Manage Your Social Media Campaign Without Feeling Overwhelmed.
3. Nitty-gritty details keep larger goals intact. Responsibilities and deadlines for social media should be crystal clear. An accountability system helps ensure targets don’t get pushed aside. Projects should be broken down into manageable tasks with stated goals. Roles should be clearly defined. I love the Getting Things Done system for accomplishing tasks.
4. Be prepared. Like that emergency flashlight on the nightstand, be ready for when things don’t work out as planned. People get sick. Docs are needed in surgery. So, keep extra blogs on hand and write down (or voice message) ideas as you think of them (Things on my iPhone and computers helps me do this). Make a list of interesting topics to Twitter when you don’t have time to research. Have an emergency assistant who can navigate your YouTube or Facebook page.
5. Don’t be afraid to reassess. You set the ball rolling…and it’s been two weeks since a blog was posted. Uh-oh. Time to sit down and see if, realistically, something needs to change. Is it a temporary matter? Or is it a true case of over-commitment? Is it a problem with content generation that can be solved with weekly partner brainstorms? Or does someone have paralyzing digital stage-fright? Once again, lighten the consequences of this scenario by having a backup from the beginning.