Six Tools To Localize Twitter for Your Hospital

One concern I’ve heard from hospital marketing staffs is that social media’s footprint is too wide-reaching to be effective for local hospitals.

They wonder if it is really worth the time and effort, since the only people they are concerned about connecting with are in their local community. My answer is simple: Yes, because people in your local community are using social media.

I do appreciate the concern about this new boundary-less medium. It’s so much easier to manage a medium that has limitations, such as selecting a cable channel covering a certain region or targeting regional editions of certain newspapers.

What if you are focusing on a local Twitter strategy?

When people discuss building community in social media, they are rarely referring to geographic terms. Most communities in social media develop based on mutual interests. Hospitals, however, work to build communities of both mutual interest and locale … and that’s the greater challenge.

Here are a few tools that can help you build communities based both on interests and locale.

Building a Twitter community based on both interest and locale

  • Listorious lists people by category, and treats regions as categories. Here’s an example when I searched “Los Angeles.” But the real power is to combine the two, such as “Los Angeles, Parkinsons.”
  • Find and follow local people. You can use www.twellow.com. They have a neighborhood function, Twellowhood, that enables you input the communities you are interested in and see and easily follow those people in your neighborhood who are on Twitter. Their list is helpful because you can search even very small communities. You can also list your own Twitter account so other local people can find you.
  • Follow local trends using trendsmap.com. By following local trends you can tap into the interest that social media followers in your geographic area find interesting or controversial and engage in the conversation. Even a seemingly unrelated trend such as “county fair” opens opportunities for a conversation about the prevention of heat stroke. Be proactive. You can search by geographic location or topic.
  • WeFollow is a Twitter directory where you can find people who have self-identified themselves according to their interests. When you begin searching, it displays related categories (much like a Google search). For example, a search for “cancer” (with 652 self-identified) also displayed cancersurvivor (192), cancerresearch (107) canceradvocate (65) and cancerwarrior (33).
  • Trendistic is a very interesting tool that graphs trends based on your search. You can search both topics and regions. You can see when the trend spiked, and then click on the chart to see the tweets associated with that trend. I even searched for zip codes. However, I did not have much luck combining searches. Most of my combined searches came up empty. Hashtags.org combines Trendistic’s trending function with their search function.
  • Use Twitter hashtags. Hashtags help identify a community that has interest in a specific topic, such as #Alzheimers and can identify communities, such as #SantaMonica. Combine them for a more targeted reach. You can also create your own for a targeted campaign, such as #fightcancerParkCity. When tweeting, use both an established hashtag (such as #cancer) and the new one you created (such as #fightcancerParkCity) to begin fostering a community that shares both an interest and a locale.

In addition to using these tools for their search functions, don’t forget to add your hospital to the directories and lists to help others with similar interests and locales find you.


How we help

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

2 replies
  1. Jean Kelso Sandlin
    Jean Kelso Sandlin says:

    Susan: Thanks for the comments. You’re right about the application to traditional PR. With such a focus on social media, we shouldn’t forget about the importance of integration of traditional PR with social media – and these tools can be applied to both. Thanks again!

    Reply
  2. Susan Gosselin
    Susan Gosselin says:

    Dan:
    Love this story. You’ve got some great tips here. I’ve used a few of these but was not aware of trendistic or trendsmap. You can bet I’ll be checking those out! You know, these tools have more applications than just social media. You can use this information to help map out your content strategy for traditional p.r. too. It would even help to make a list of key influencers you can use for your p.r. efforts in general. Media lists, after all, aren’t the cut and dried affair they used to be.

    Reply

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