Hospitals: Social Media Lessons from the Apocalypse


One friend told me he and his wife were going to dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday so they would be able to enjoy dessert before 6 p.m. I suggested they time it so they didn’t have to pay the bill.

Of course we were joking about the predicted apocalypse, the rapture, the end of the world as we know it. The story was compelling, the word of mouth was pervasive and it seemed everyone I met had something to say about it. And yet we’re still here.

Seth Godin wrote a brilliant blogpost for Saturday. His key points:

“Sell a story that some people want to believe. In fact, sell a story they already believe…. Not everyone wants to believe in the end of the world, but some people (fortunately, just a few) really do. To reach them, you don’t need much of a hard sell at all.

“Too often marketers take a product and try to invent a campaign. Much more effective is to find a tribe, find a story and make a product that resonates, one that makes the story work.

“That’s the whole thing. A story that resonates and a tribe that’s tight and small and eager.”

So, who is your social media tribe?

In healthcare, tribes are all around us. The tribe of breast cancer survivors and their friends and families may be the most visible of all. But there are many others.

Take, for example, the people who believe that immunizations cause autism. There’s a tribe that’s looking for a story to believe – a simple answer to a complicated problem. They’re active online, and they’re gathering information – any information – that confirms their beliefs.

Another example: those who are newly diagnosed with an illness or disease. They’re hungry for information, and study after study after study shows that after meeting with their doctors they go online to get it.

What about the tribe of hospital volunteers? The tribe of wives of sleep apnea sufferers (poor souls)? The tribe of bariatric surgery patients?

Interestingly, although these are very different groups, your opportunity is the same – to do your best to listen and to provide accurate, proven, research-based information to enlighten and educate. As importantly, you have an opportunity to do it in a real, generous and compassionate way that promotes conversation and community. The simpler the better!

An important question

Are you engaging with a community of passionate, involved people who really care?

My lesson from the (un)apocalypse: Take a close look at your social media efforts. Are you building a tribe that’s “tight and small and eager?” Or are you trying to be everything to everyone? The truth is, when we try to be all things to all people in our social media efforts, we miss the mark. We end up being almost nothing to almost no one.


How we help

Hive Strategies helps hospitals engage patients through social media. We don’t manage social media. Instead, we help hospitals develop an effective social media strategy and mentor them through the implementation process. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.


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