Why Generosity is a Smart Social Media Policy

Here’s an experience that’s been on my mind for awhile. You’ll be scratching your head at first, but if you’re patient, I think you’ll see how it ties directly to hospitals and social media.

Megan, our creative director, sent me a link to a website offering a web service I was interested in. I went to the site and discovered that they specialized in smaller accounts.

Hmmm, I thought, maybe this service would be right for me. We could get some help and not have to pay a million bucks. Hmmm. Maybe this would be a good fit for some of my clients.

The company was offering a guide. Hmmm. This will tell me more about the services they offer. I’ll find out if they know what they’re talking about.

So I filled out the form and requested the guide.

A different approach

Now most service sites I’ve visited operate like ours. If you want one of our e-books or our white paper, you enter a name and email, maybe a company name, press submit, and you receive your guide, white paper, or e-book.

In this case, however, they asked for information, then said I would receive a link to the guide via email.

In a few hours I received the following email:

I received your request for our XXX Guide; however, after looking at your site/services, it appears we operate in the same space. Since you currently offer XXX services, we’d prefer not to share the guide we spent many hours putting together with a potential competitor.

If you are seeking a potential partnership where we provide XXX services to your clients, I’d be interested in speaking with you about what we offer in terms of partnership opportunities.

I hope you can understand our position here.

Best,
John

To clarify, I am definitely not a competitor. Here is my translation: We think you’re trying to rip us off, so we’re not giving you the guide we’re giving to everyone else but you. But if you’re not trying to rip us off, call and we might consider working with you.

My response? Delete.

Generous is good

Here’s the social media lesson: First of all, in your relationships with your community (and people inquiring about your services or physicians or quality of care are definitely part of your community) be generous (one of our seven Hive Strategies core values). Running around assuming people are going to rip you off is not a good place to work from.

If not generous, try trusting

But if you want to be less generous, at least try to be trusting. Suppose the email had said instead:

Thank you for requesting our guide. It looks like we may be working in the same space, so before we share it with you, I’d love to talk and see how we might be able to work together. We really like new clients! Can I give you a call?

Every communication with every person in your community is a chance to help people feel better about you and your hospital. Don’t blow it by assuming the worst.

Update: For a follow up on this blogpost, read “The Amazing Power of Simply Saying I’m Sorry.”

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8 replies
  1. Dan Hinmon, Principal
    Dan Hinmon, Principal says:

    Thanks for your comments, Jill and Casey. There is definitely something magical that happens when we are generous with our time, help, and information. I’m glad you agree!

    Reply
  2. Casey Quinlan
    Casey Quinlan says:

    Wow. Great example of how a simple act can both inspire the observer (you … and the rest of us) and make the actor (“John”) look like a rat cowering in a corner.

    Competition can be scary if you look at business as war (paging Sun Tzu, Pentagon’s on line 3!), and a business does have to view its clients as assets that must be protected. However, a spirit of generosity will always take you further than trench warfare. Even your competitors can become advocates, even collaborators, if you’re smart about how you play the generosity game.

    It’s that old honey vs. vinegar metaphor.

    Reply
  3. Jill Celeste
    Jill Celeste says:

    How ridiculous. Obviously, this company isn’t very confident in its product or services. I share with “competitors” all the time. Life’s too short not to be generous.

    Reply
  4. Dan Hinmon
    Dan Hinmon says:

    Okay, so this is proof that I was not simply being thin-skinned? I’m really taking this one to heart as I think about all my interactions with my community. Thanks for your comments, Meredith.

    Reply

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