Congratulations! Now that you’ve listened to the chatter, built your internal support team, ensured that your efforts are HIPAA compliant, set a sound strategy that leverages your marketing objectives and selected your social media channels, you’re ready to launch!
How will you know if you’re successful?
Track your statistics
One of the terrific things about social media – and other online efforts – is that there are plenty of statistics. So, if you are starting a Facebook page, track the number of those who “like” you, and watch it grow. On Twitter, count the number of new followers. On YouTube, tally your views. And on your hospital blog, make sure you’re monitoring the number of visits. These statistics will tell you if you’re providing compelling content that makes people want to engage with you.
But statistics are only part of the story. You may have lots of friends and followers, but if none of them are visiting your hospital, your efforts are not really paying off, are they?
What you really want to ask: Is all this activity helping to accomplish my marketing objectives?
Connect your social media efforts to marketing objectives
Remember that social media is only one leg in your overall marketing strategy. If your goal is to increase evaluations in your sleep lab or schedule more MRIs, you’re probably going to support those goals with direct mail, television, radio, newspaper or another form of traditional advertising.
That makes it difficult to prove that growth came only or largely as a result of your social media efforts. But that’s okay. Social media is not meant to be a stand-alone marketing strategy. You’ll always want to reach out to those who are not involved with social media. And we all know that patients act as a result of multiple messages. As a result, it may always be difficult to show a direct return on investment for social media.
There are, however, a few things you can do to identify a correlation.
Match your “likes” and followers to your admissions. Your Facebook and Twitter connections identify themselves. Take that information and match it to your admissions. It’s not a perfect science, since you won’t know exactly why that patient chose your hospital, but it will provide some useful information.
Include questions in your patient satisfaction surveys. When you survey your patients, ask them if they are aware of your social media efforts and if those connections were influential in their decision to come to your hospital.
Conduct random surveys in your waiting areas. Although not statistically significant, random surveys can provide more insight. Spend an hour or two in your waiting areas. Ask patients if they are familiar with your social media efforts and if those efforts have influenced their visit.
Surveys can be conducted in an informal visit, or you can hand out a printed survey. Including a gift card to the coffee cart as a “thank you” for participating would be an unexpected treat.
Are you having fun?
Clearly the most important purpose of social media efforts is to leverage your marketing objectives. But it is also important to ask the question: Are you having fun? After all, social media is about building relationships, friendships, connections, and ties. It is a golden opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your patients. And you should really feel good about that.