What I Wish I Said About Hospital Social Media at #HCOC11

flickr: saragoldsmith

I had a great time attending the fall conference of Healthcare Communicators of Oregon on Friday. This is a good group of professionals who gathered to learn and share ideas about a range of healthcare communication issues

I enjoyed sitting in on the discussions about social media. There is no pioneering Mayo Clinic or Swedish in Oregon. Hospitals are feeling their way. It was an interesting mix of optimism, curiosity, frustration and apprehension. I contributed how I could, but left feeling I hadn’t really said it as well as I could have.

Here’s what I wish I’d said:

Social media is awkward – at first

If you’ve spent your career in traditional marketing, social media is awkward, uncomfortable and downright overwhelming at first. It takes awhile to figure out where and how it fits. And it’s a moving target. If you’re feeling like a fish out of water, join the crowd.

Don’t force things

Resist the hype about building tons of followers overnight. Instead, focus on becoming a trusted source. Look for natural communities to connect with. Focus on engagement, not volume. Start small and grow naturally. Listen, share, inform, respond.

Start simply

Many people I spoke with came from small marketing departments, and some have social media tacked onto a huge existing list of duties. In that case, start with one thing and see how it works. Fold it into your routine. You may have to stop doing something else in order to start doing social media. It’s that important.

Fail fast

Take a tip from the lean startup movement. Try something. If it doesn’t work, pivot and try something else until you find the thing that resonates with your community.

Be remarkable

Social media is different than traditional marketing in a big way. Remarkable doesn’t mean eye-popping creative. It means being real. It means connecting with people in a way that means something to them. It means caring, but not in the trite way hospitals use it in slogans.

This IS the future

Most importantly, understand this IS the future. People are tired of interruption marketing and hungry to connect with trusted sources in online communities. Only those who get it – and do it — will thrive in the new online world.

How we help

Hive Strategies helps health systems create HIPAA-compliant online communities for better health, lower costs and greater loyalty.

3 replies
  1. Jason Boies
    Jason Boies says:

    Great post, Dan. “Don’t force things” is the one takeaway for me on this one. As a relative newcomer to the healthcare/social media space myself, I can vouch for this point. Becoming a trusted source has little to do with racking up followers and endless self promotion. Through simply adding to healthcare discussions on blog posts (such as this one), engaging in some Twitter hashtag chats and sharing relevant content (not from my own company mind you) I have seen my follower count grow and more importantly, made some great online contacts/friends. And like you say, it certainly didn’t happen overnight. Good points here all around.

    All the best,

    Jason Boies – Radian6 Community Team

    • Dan Hinmon, Principal
      Dan Hinmon, Principal says:

      Thank you, Jason. You are certainly doing it right. I have really appreciated your comments on our blogposts and RTs on our tweets. Hope to get a chance to meet up in real life one day!


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