Where to Start Your Hospital’s Social Media? Try the Meaning of Life

My summer reading isn’t the typical light summer reading. Yesterday I read my first book of the season in preparation for an ethics course–Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning published originally in 1939 (under a different title) and then expanded in the 1960s.

You know you have social media on your brain when, in this powerful book that wrestles with life’s biggest questions, you find a paragraph that you want to share with your social media community, particularly you brave marketing directors who are charged with kick-starting your hospital’s social media efforts.

If you haven’t read this classic, I highly recommend it; it’s both moving and insightful, and, if you’re like most readers, you’ll find yourself pondering this one long after you’ve put it down. But as far as its connection to social media…here’s where it starts for me: in a response to a patient’s question, “What is the meaning of life?,” Frankl explains that it is comparable to posing the question to a chess champion, “Tell me Master, what is the best move in the world?” And Frankl writes in response, “There is simply no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and a particular personality of one’s opponent.” Frankl adds:

“The same holds true for human existence. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Thus he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated.

“Thus everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.  As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately man should not ask what the meaning if his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

Many times, social media strategists and marketing directors will receive the question … “What’s the most important thing we need to do? Create a Facebook page? A YouTube channel ? A Twitter account?” In other words, “Tell me Master, what is the best [social media] move in the world?” And our response is, there is no one right move.

Marketing directors must first answer for their hospital’s own existence…what is it we must do? Why does this hospital in this place serving this demographic exist? What challenge is our hospital asked to solve for our community? For our elderly? For our teens? For our local schools? For our expectant mothers? For our recovering addicts? For our veterans? For our physicians? For our nurses? For our pharmacists? For our imaging techs? For those rushed to our ER?

What’s the most pressing problem to which your particular hospital is called to respond? Answer that…and that’s where your social media program needs to start.  This is your “concrete assignment that demands fulfillment.”


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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