In-Your-Face Social Media Preparation: Six Painless Activities

flickr: Horia Varlan

During the US Open, after his victory over David Nalbandian, Rafael Nadal was sitting at the press conference desk answering questions when he got a severe leg cramp. The news footage shows the fit tennis player struggling to endure his pain. It’s a long two and a half minutes, and it’s uncomfortable to watch.

As memorable as that news conference was, what made the biggest impression on me was when, just a bit later, Mary Joe Fernandez interviewed Nadal, and he said the post-match pain he endured from cramping during that press conference was nothing unusual–the only unusual part of it was that it happened during a televised press conference. (He noted that it usually happens in the locker room, and no one knows).

That glimpse into what an elite athlete has to endure, especially when he makes tennis look so easy on the court, was an eye-opener. It reminded me that there is an enormous amount of preparation (and pain) that goes unseen by the fans.  The actual televised match is just a brief moment in a lifetime of preparation.

There’s a lesson in Nadal’s press conference drama for those of us who plan and implement social media for hospitals and health clinics.

On the surface, social media looks easy and cost effective. The portion of social media in which the public engages (i.e. blog posts, Facebook pages, support chat groups, YouTube Channels, etc.) is only be a small percentage of the preparation time required.

The majority of your staff’s social media strategy time should be used for ongoing preparation activities so that your implementation continues to be relevant for your patients.

Here’s a list of 6 worthwhile “pre-match” activities to assure ongoing preparation for your hospital’s social media.

Listen to your consumers 

Listen to your consumers (on line and off line) to measure your offerings against their expressed needs.

  • Read patient surveys. Are there concerns expressed that a social media tool could help address?
  • Talk to patients and families. What’s their attitude about social media? How do they spend their time online? What information would they like more easily accessible? (If you doubt the usefulness of this type of qualitative research, read Clay Shirkey’s “McDonald’s Milkshakes” case in his new book Cognitive Surplus(on page 12 in the printed version or click here for a preview version and scroll down ½ page.)

Investigate and experiment

Investigate and experiment with new analytic tools to get a better measure of who is engaging and what activities they are engaging in. (Adam Vincenzini just published his take on the best of 2011).

Talk to physicians, techs, nurses and support staff

Talk to physicians, techs, nurses and support staff. Find out their experiences and attitudes regarding social media, and take note of where you have social media advocates. Solicit their ideas for social media uses in their areas, and gather valuable content ideas.

Review other hospitals’ social media efforts

Take advantage of Ed Bennett’s comprehensive list and visit other hospitals’ websites and social media efforts. Take note of great ideas, ease of navigation overall design, how they structure buttons and links to integrate their social media efforts. Which ones work well? Which ones are too clunky or hidden behind too much click-through clutter?

Broaden your view

Use a tool like Brian Solis’ and Jess3’s Conversation Prism 3.0 to broaden your view of social media. Experiment with new tools that may meet your patients’ needs.

Learn from others’ experiences

Link up with your professional network via social media, conferences or in-person meet-ups and learn from others’ experiences (and mistakes) with social media.

This work may not be as immediately satisfying as engaging patients (or winning a US Open match on national TV), but if you want to continually engage patient communities and have your program evolve to serve them, preparation is key.

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.

5 replies
  1. Jeanne
    Jeanne says:

    I love your analogy of preparation and what you see does not represent all the behind the scenes preparation.
    thanks so much for a great story


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