The Power in Naming Your Social Media Tools

What's in a name?

flickr: jack dorsey

Last weekend I was in Washington D.C. visiting colleges with my daughter. One of the campus representatives introduced our student tour guide’s major as “exploratory.”

Later, during the tour, the student explained that the college did not have an “undeclared major” label or “undecided,” but that they supported helping him explore and discover a major that would fit his interests and skills–an opportunity he did not feel he had in high school.

I could tell by his explanation that he felt comfortable and even empowered because his major was named “exploratory” rather than “undecided.”

In communication studies, the theory we use to explain that student’s feeling of empowerment is Symbolic Interaction Theory.  It suggests that meaning is created in the language that people use, and that language allows people to develop a sense of self and to interact with others. In this theory, people are motivated to act based on the meanings they assign to people, things, and events.

Naming can be powerful and should not be overlooked as you plan your hospital’s social media strategy. Just as the college named its undecided major “exploratory” to reflect the student experience, consider what you’ve named your hospital’s blog, YouTube channel, online videos and other social media outreach tools.

Do the names reflect what you call them in-house among staff and physicians? Or do they reflect the patient experience? For example, do you call your Cancer Center’s YouTube channel “Information for Oncology Patients” or “Cancer Care?” Names do matter.

It does not take long to complete a name audit for your social media tools.  Simply record the names of all your hospital’s social media tools and those that are affiliated with the hospital, then analyze them.

Do they reflect patient needs and help build trust and relationships with your hospital–or do they reflect a cold, unfeeling institution? If it’s the latter, start brainstorming … remember, people form their perceptions from names.


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