Okay, Mr. or Mrs. Hospital CEO. It’s time to man up. We know you’re afraid of social media. But it’s time to drag that bogeyman out of the closet and take a cold hard look at him in the light of day. What exactly are you afraid of? Come on, say it.
“We’ll be risking HIPAA violations!”
In regards to HIPAA, social media is no different than your other marketing efforts. Don’t disclose personal health information without consent. Ever. Have clear policies in place for everyone, post them prominently and make sure everyone follows them. Fire the people who don’t. Scan and scrub your social media platforms for questionable posts and comments at least once a day.
More than 900 US hospitals are actively involved in social media. They’re still in business. Take reasonable measures, and you’ll be on safe ground.
“We’ll be flooded with negative comments!”
You’ve got to embrace the fear. Remember the first time you ever dealt with a serious complaint? You handle negative comments the same way. But, you say, if they say something negative on our Facebook page everyone will know it! I’ve got to tell you something. Everyone already knows it. These unhappy people are blogging, tweeting and posting everyone they know with their complaints.
It’s time for you to join the conversation. Use social media to do what you always do with negative comments – do your best to turn a negative into a positive.
“You can’t prove the Return on Investment (ROI)!”
Let’s take a logical approach to this. Suppose you launch a social media strategy. You’re not going to take every penny out of your marketing budget and pour it into social media.
Keep doing TV, newspaper, transit, direct mail and all the rest. Scrutinize every dime and analyze every rating point. And then take a portion of your budget and launch a social media strategy that supports your overall marketing objectives. A little bit of yeast can make a huge difference.
You already know that traditional advertising works best as a 3-legged stool. Television, radio and direct mail. Or newspaper, television and radio. Or radio, outdoor and television. How about television, newspaper and social media? Why? Because it’s just smart marketing to target your market in different ways.
“We don’t trust our employees!”
Do you hear yourself? You’re telling me that the same people I’m depending on to save my life, give me the right meds and remove the right body part are not smart enough to engage patients with social media? Wherever hospitals give marketing departments and employees freedom to participate in social media, they are some of their biggest cheerleaders. Give them the chance to show you what they can do.
“We have got to maintain control!”
In today’s digital media age, message control is a complete illusion. You think you have control simply because you’re plugging your ears. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of voices out there are sharing their opinions in the digital world, and study after study shows that people tend to believe what their friends say about you rather than your polished advertising messages.
Now that we’ve exposed that bogeyman for the over-inflated little windbag that he really is, let’s look at five reasons why you absolutely, positively, unquestionably, irrefutably MUST launch a social media strategy for your hospital.
It’s where the money is!
Why did Willie Horton rob the banks? Social media is where your patients are. Newspaper subscriptions are plummeting. Everyone is DVR-ing television programs and fast-forwarding through the commercials. Your patients are going online to trusted sources to share their opinions and gather healthcare information. To increase patients and build market share you simply must have a presence in the online community.
It is true to your mission!
In this gargantuan world of mega-healthcare organizations, the heart of what you do is still to help every possible patient feel better, one person at a time. Social media is putting the “one” back in healthcare communications. Sure it takes time and energy, but when it’s done right, it provides rich, personal experiences and helps form genuine, trusting bonds for everyone involved.
Women are using social media by the boatloads!
56% of all the people on Facebook are women, and they’re averaging seven hours a week. We all know that once the women in the family love you, everybody else is coming along for the ride. It’s the perfect place to connect with moms and wives.
The revolution is happening now!
In another five minutes every single hospital in America will be engaging patients through social media except you. Well, maybe it will take more than five minutes. But the fact is, the train is leaving the station, and if you’re not on it, you’re going to lose some serious market share.
It’s the right thing to do!
When you do it right, social media will revitalize your relationships with your patients. Why? Because you will build strong relationships based on open and honest communication. Our Hive Strategies core values will keep you on the right track.
So please, Mr. or Mrs. CEO. Take a deep breath. Count to three. And throw open that closet door. Social media is not scary, foolish or insignificant. Once you accept that, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t shine the light on the bogeyman a long time ago.