Does Facebook-in-the-News Matter to Healthcare Social Media?

In the same week, GM announced that it would stop advertising on Facebook (they spent $10 million last year), Facebook’s IPO made history at $38 per share (3rd largest in history), then made news again when the stock price began to drop. Then, to add to the already hyped-up hype, Mark Zuckerberg gets married.

It’s hard to avoid the Facebook news, and CEOs are paying attention. If you are in hospital marketing, you should be ready to discuss, and possibly defend, your Facebook engagement. Even if you do not spend advertising dollars with the social network, be ready to defend the staff time your department spends engaging with online communities through Facebook or other social network sources.

Here are a few suggestions to ready your defense:

Use research

Even though those participating in a recent Associated Press/CNBC poll said Facebook was a fad, 40 per cent of them checked their Facebook accounts at least weekly. To me, that’s the more important statistic.

Pew Research Center has compiled a tremendous amount of information that helps understand how Americans use the Internet and social media in health-related decisions. Even though it is a few years old, one of my favorite go-to pieces is The Social Life of Health Information. It offers a nice overview of the last decade, and then you can scroll down or search for more current reports and updated statistics related to social media and health.

Not all companies know how to use Facebook well

When GM comes up as an example, point out that not all companies know how to use Facebook well, and mention that GM may have not been using the social network in a manner that was sufficiently engaging.

For entertainment and information, read B.L. Ochman’s insightful article Doing it Wrong: 11 Boring Things GM Posted on Facebook. You may also want to note that although GM stopped advertising, they still maintain a presence.

Share an inspiring story

If possible, use a story from your own hospital’s social media engagement. However, if you need to go outside to find one, Susannah Fox of Pew Research shared the Internet’s impact on one man’s life that relates to his health diagnosis.

Marc Santos also wrote an inspiring account, How the Internet Saved My Daughter and How Social Media Saved My Family. Rohit Bhargava inspired my post on the power of storytelling and its contribution to a hospital’s likability. It also contains a few examples.

Condense your social media strategy into an elevator speech

Two of my previous posts may be helpful as you structure your pitch for retaining resources dedicated to social media:

Trust Me. Hospitals Should Adopt Social Media.

A Kinder Gentler “Engage or Die” for the C-Suite

It’s not easy to predict the future of specific social media tools (or the price of their stock), but whether it is in the headlines or not, social media will continue to be a contributing factor in building strong communities within healthcare, and hospitals need to retain resources in order to participate.

How we help

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

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

    Thanks for your comment, B.L. (and I follow McLeod’s blog – love his thought-provoking cartoons). There’s a fun video about that changing advertiser/consumer relationship from the Idea Forum way back in 2007 that I continue to share with my students – too bad it is still relevant! I think you’ll chuckle. Here’s the url:

  2. B.L. Ochman
    B.L. Ochman says:

    Jean – thanks for including my post in your insightful article. I think advertising can work in Facebook if it’s clever and not a hit-you-over-the-head sales piece.

    As my friend Hugh McLeod of said, “If you talked to people the way advertising talks to people, they’d punch you in the face.”

  3. Jean Kelso Sandlin
    Jean Kelso Sandlin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Jason. And you’re right about GM. I do mention in my post that GM is still maintaining a presence, but I could have been clearer on what that presence will look like. I think the entire marketing/advertising industry is discovery traditional ad concepts don’t work on social networks. Max Bloxham has a nice commentary in Online Media Daily today called “Is Facebook an Advertising Medium?” You can read it here: Thanks again for all your insights. I agree…original content is becoming easier to create and more important to share.

  4. Jason Boies
    Jason Boies says:

    Another nice post, Jean. I was under the impression that although GM was pulling its ADS from Facebook, it was going to focus more on engagement and putting out better content. I believe they still see value in Facebook as a platform for reaching consumers, just not via actual ads. If anything, this is a great example of why brands needs to start creating their own content to draw in more views, fans and ultimately, paying customers.

    Cheers as always – Jason Boies – Radian6 Community


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