Hospital Social Media: Personality Included

Rohit Bhargava

In Rohit Bhargava’s book Personality Not Included, he talks about the importance of what he terms the “likability factor” in social media and gives a shout out to doctors.

He writes, “In the medical profession, for example, one thing every doctor knows, which many marketers are still ignorant of, is that likability matters. Statistics time and again prove that people don’t sue doctors they like regardless of how badly they screw up.”

How can you bring that “likability factor” to your hospital’s social media efforts? Maybe you’ve considered introducing a blog written by key staffers or physicians, but they’re pressed for time and bogged down in their daily duties. Is there another cost-effective way that doesn’t require the cooperation and time from C-Suite staff or your physicians?

Find and tell stories

One way you can infuse personality into your social media efforts is to find and tell the stories of local celebrities (I use that term very loosely). The other day one of our local papers had an interview with IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball. I admit I don’t follow racing and had never heard of Kimball before, but I was so fascinated with the story that I read the entire story. Why? What attracted me to the story and held my attention? Kimball has Type 1 diabetes and in the article he explained in detail how he copes:

“I have a couple of tools in the cockpit to make sure I’m healthy, safe and performing at my maximum during the race. And I have a glucose monitor Velcroed to the steering wheel. I have my car’s data and my body data right there on the dash. So when I check water temperature, oil pressure, speed, I also check glucose. It gives me confidence that things are going to plan.

“The other half of that is, because racing is so physical, blood sugar tends to burn off. And the big fear for me and my doctor is going low. So I have a drink bottle mounted in the car that’s filled with orange juice. So if I need to bring my sugar back up, there’s a tube that runs right in through my helmet that I can suck on like a straw. I don’t have to take my hands off the wheel to get my blood glucose up so that I don’t have to stop.”

That kind of detail and the expression of his commitment to overcome his health condition to pursue his passion is a fascinating story, and people love stories. It humanizes the experiences of both being diagnosed with a disease and then demonstrates how people cope. And it doesn’t have to be a racecar driver.

Two examples of local “celebrities”

There were two campaigns I was involved with that were well received on a client’s website. The first featured a local realtor who talked about how thankful she was for being able to have her cancer treatments locally, and the positive impact being surrounded by family and friend had on her recovery.

For the Center, the story beautifully expressed their key message: they provide quality cancer care close to home – no need to travel to the “big city.”

A second campaign featured a “hero-sized” firefighter who touted the openness of the hospital’s new open MRI. Watching him in action responding to a call and then having him be so comfortable in the new MRI really told the story of how the new MRI could accommodate larger patients (up to 500 pounds).  Featuring a local hero who was large helped larger patients feel more comfortable.

Stories are nimble enough to be shared on a variety of social media platforms. Whether they are done in written form (as a guest blogger or feature), or in a YouTube video, or even in a 140-character Tweet that links to a news media story, people are attracted to personal stories.

Whether it be a national racecar driver or your local realtor or firefighter – sharing personal experiences that shine a light on your hospital’s key messages or pointing them to your hospital’s resources is one more way to add the “likability factor” to your hospital’s social media efforts.


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.

2 replies
  1. Jean Kelso Sandlin
    Jean Kelso Sandlin says:

    Rohit – Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your next book sounds interesting. My current research (dissertation) is on perception of authenticity in blogs and although I am just diving into the data, I think the”likability factor” may just turn out to be a marker for “perception of authenticity” – at least among my 17-year-old college-bound subjects. Can’t wait to read about other examples in your book!

  2. Rohit
    Rohit says:

    Jean – Thanks for this great post and mention. I loved the additional examples and it’s so interesting that you focused on this idea of likeability, because it is a big part of what I am using for my next book, called Likeonomics. The principle is basically that personal relationships and likeability are often not just a “nice to have” but might turn out to be the MOST important thing in many situations. In any case, keep the great stories coming!


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