Zooming to the Top of Social Media: A Case Study of MD Anderson

flickr: jurvetson

In the August 10 issue of Oncology Times, Lola Butcher wrote an article called How They Did It: How MD Anderson Zoomed to the Top of Oncology Social Media. For hospital marketing directors whose social media efforts are still lagging, or maybe have been stalled-out somewhere in the “C” Suite, here’s an outstanding case study that breaths life (and persuasion!) into many of those social media mantras you’ve been hearing and repeating.

Butcher talked with MD Anderson’s Jennifer Texada, program manager of digital and new media. The fact that MD Anderson had the vision to establish a position to be the point-person for their social media effort is a lesson in itself (and has, no doubt, contributed to their “zoom to the top”).

When Butcher wrote the article, MD Anderson faculty and staff maintained about a dozen Facebook pages, 50 Twitter accounts, 5,000 LinkedIn accounts, along with blogs (like Cancerwise) and online publications (like Focused on Health). Here are the lessons from her article:

Start slowly, but get started

MD Anderson started their social media efforts in 2007 when, according to Butcher, “most of the physicians had neither knowledge of nor interest in any of the emerging media.” I would add, don’t expect overnight results. It took a year before one physician recognized an uptick in his patient numbers, and his enthusiasm helped spread the word about social media’s power internally, which led to her second important lesson …

Find a champion

The physician who recognized results helped spread the word via an internal podcast that focused on social media in healthcare.

Define and redefine your goals

Butcher noted that Texada isn’t afraid to revise her goals as new people and new technologies become part of the social media landscape.

Monitor web traffic

Listen intentionally

Butcher writes that “no complaint should go unaddressed, and no question should be ignored.”

Prepare for the future

Prepare for the future when social media becomes mainstream.

Butcher’s article helped affirm my conviction that there is a place for social media to advance patient outreach. I couldn’t help but notice that Butcher’s real-life lessons from MD Anderson reflect Hive Strategies’ “8 Steps to Launch a Successful Social Media Strategy”– a series we kicked off with blog posts in March, and now make available as a free downloadable e-book. I’ve listed our eight steps below with the links to the original blog posts that address them:

Although guides are useful (and we try hard to make ours useful for you), it’s always helpful to have a real case study to get other’s attention and support. Use Butcher’s article to help pave the way for you to initiate or expand social media in your hospital or clinic. And remember her first lesson … get started!


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. Read about our services. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.

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