The Potency of Print: A Social Media Strategy for Social Services

flickr: stylianosm

If you read my blog posts on any regular basis, you’ll know I’m a social media advocate.

I share information that I hope will help hospital and clinic marketing directors persuade their “C-Suites” to begin adopting social media. I ferret out studies and statistics that shine a light on the expansion and adoption of social media in healthcare. I share information to help break the stereotype that social media is only a tool to engage the young and should be dismissed by hospitals because most patients are not.

Yesterday Pew Research Center published an interesting study that shines a light on how people access their news in an area of healthcare that local hospitals and clinics need to be especially concerned about – social services.

Print is still potent

For those of us concerned about social services, the take-away from this study … print is still potent! The highest percentage of adults seeking social service news access is via their local newspaper (13%), local TV (8%), the Internet (6%) and then word-of-mouth (5%).

Much of this preference can be explained when you examine who is most likely to follow social service news–47% don’t use the internet, 44% are retired and 43% are living in households with incomes under $50,000.

This slice of information regarding social services news was part of an overall study that looked at how adults acquire local news. The new information that this study offers that other studies lack is that it categorized the news into 16 topics – for example: community events, breaking news, crime, jobs, real estate, local politics, taxes, social services, etc.

The internet’s emerging role as a news source for local news

If you are a social media skeptic (or work for someone who is), it’s important to note that Internet is still among the top three sources where people get their news about social services. According to the researchers, “The internet has already surpassed newspapers as a source Americans turn to for national and international news. The findings from this survey now show its emerging role as a source for local news and information as well.”

Pew has two great graphics to help aid in the understanding of their rich data. The first is an interactive chart that enables you to click on one of the 16 categories and see a comparative chart of what medium people are using to access news related to each category. This interactive chart also gives you the ability to view it as it relates to all adults, or compare age differentials­ (adults over 40 compared to adults from ages 18 to 39).

The second graphic details the demographic groups who are most likely to follow each category (scroll down to view figure 4).

Consider long-term reliability

If you are thinking about moving all your communication efforts regarding your social services to local newspapers, I encourage you to consider long-term reliability in getting the information to those who need it.

Unless you have an advertising budget, coverage in newspapers and television are editor-reliant – that is, if your story is not big enough in scope or repeats too often (like those free blood pressure screenings or discounted mammogram programs), then it may not be covered as prominently or as consistently as you would like.

Consider, instead, creating a local print and TV campaign that moves people to your Internet resource.  Partner with local social services agencies and libraries to provide online access and training to those who may not have Internet access in the home.

Mix online and offline offerings

Even as I encourage integrating print and online media, Pew’s research is a good reminder for those of us who have shifted our focus to primarily online media.

To reach and serve all of our patients, even as we grow our online offerings, we must continue to share our information with offline media sources in an effort to assure that all who need social service offerings have the greatest opportunity to access the information – no matter what their media preference.


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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