Step #6: The Dead Man in the Doorway: Establishing Clear Goals when Implementing Hospital Social Media.

This blog is part six of an eight-part series on launching your hospital’s social media strategy.

I saw True Grit last night, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and nominated for Best Picture (and more) at the recent Academy Awards. I am a big fan of the Coen Brothers and have been looking forward to seeing their adaptation of this western novel.

The first shot of the movie informed me I was watching a great film. Initially, the onscreen image is out of focus, just a blur of warm light and darkness. Very slowly, the camera pulls focus and tracks in until the scene is clear: a dead man lying twisted in the yellow light of a doorway under lightly falling snow. The murderer, on the dead man’s horse, blazes past into the darkness.

This beautifully composed image sets the tone and motivation of the whole film. 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie Ross, who is intent on avenging the death of her father, the dead man in the doorway. This long tracking focus shot could be a visual metaphor for her own narrow determination—which is so clear and concentrated that it easily drives the whole action of the film.

This shot actually brings me to my main point today—establishing goals. Anyone who has acted knows that it’s vitally important for a character to have an objective, like Mattie Ross. An actor asks of her character, “What do I want? And how am I trying to get it?” This clear definition of focus is important in many aspects of art and, certainly, everyday life. It most definitely applies to effective marketing.

Most hospitals have goals and objectives stemming, hopefully, from a clearly-defined purpose. These are often stated as, “We want to make our ER experience more efficient for patients in order to boost satisfaction levels.” Or, “We want to establish trust in our five new specialists in order to build their client bases.” Your next question should then be, “Which of these goals could best be supported by social media?”

Just like some unnecessary movie scenes, though beautifully shot and acted, end up on the cutting room floor, throwing the whole array of social media arbitrarily at everything, simply because it’s available, is not a good plan. Rather, a thoughtful discussion about which social media tools would best benefit specific goals will ensure that you’re not wasting time or money. Can ER efficiency be improved through social media, or would it be better to allocate social media efforts to expanding the practices of your new specialists?

Once you’ve defined which goals can best be met by social media, make more goals that will help you determine your plan’s success. David Allen, in his immensely helpful book Getting Things Done, says, “In order most productively to access the conscious and unconscious resources available to you, you must have a clear picture in your mind of what success would look, sound, and feel like.” (Getting Things Done, pg. 67)

In other words, clarify what particular success would look like according to your specific goals. In patient surveys, did your community state that having ER wait times on Facebook was helpful? Did patient satisfaction with ER experience improve as a result, and by what percentage? Or, did the number of YouTube views of new doctor videos lead to increased requests to referrals to these practices?

In some cases, the effects of social media are hard to measure. However, with a combination of tools, such as online traffic analytics, patient and staff feedback and survey results, you should be able to gain a clear picture of whether your established goals are being met. More about defining success coming up in part eight of our eight-part series.

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