Private Facebook Group or Branded Online Community?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked when we help our healthcare clients develop online communities is “Why not use a private Facebook group?”

Given the fact that Facebook is “free” and the audience is huge, that’s a great question. Here are eight things you need to consider when choosing your community platform.

Branding and customization

Your organization has invested a lot in its brand online. Owning your own space (e.g. allows you to extend that brand to your community in a robust way and make the user experience your own. Your organization can control the experience from end-to-end. Read more

The Intimate Public: Extending the Benefit of Healthcare’s Online Communities

flickr: kaybee07

Recently, when reading an article by Chelsea Lonsdale in the Slughorne Journal titled The “Intimate Public” of Mommy Blogs, I was reminded of the concept of “the intimate public” first introduced by Lauren Berlant. It’s a helpful concept as you consider how online communities can be used to prevent or manage illness, as well as how to extend the benefit of these online communities to offline patients.

Lonsdale borrowed the phrase “intimate public” from Lauren Berlant’s book The Female Complaint (2008) and related Berlant’s definition of intimate public: “a porous, affective scene of identification among strangers that promises a certain experience of belonging and provides a complex of consolation, confirmation, discipline, and  discussion about how to live as an x.” Read more

Social Media: Pinch Hitting Medical Home Runs

With discussions of healthcare reform permeating our hospitals and clinics, I’ve been on a quest to read “success stories” to gain insight into how organizations have achieved improved care with reduced costs.

My quest uncovered an article in Health Affairs by Arnold Milstein and Elizabeth Gilbertson who highlighted four care sites in the United States that constituted “medical home runs” because their patients incurred 15-20% less spending than patients treated by regional peers, without evidence of reduced quality. Read more

What Makes a Successful Hospital Facebook Page?

By one measure, Adam Lee runs one of the most successful hospital Facebook pages in the U.S., and he does it in just two to four hours a week.

Adam is social media coordinator for Adventist Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, and the measure is engagement. The Facebook page he manages consistently ranks in the top 5% of U.S. hospitals for engagement, according to the Ubicare EQ chart. (We’ve written before about Ubicare here and here.)

In a recent interview, Adam shared some important insights into how to build engagement. Some of his comments are edited for brevity. (You can follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamLeeDesign.)  Read more

The Future of Health Care (Marketing) Is Community

flickr: alicegop

I’m presenting at the 4th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit October 16-18. My topic is Health Care Reform Meets Social Media: Cultivating Online Communities to Prevent and Manage Illness.*

We settled on this topic last March, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it since – and doing a ton of research, including interviews with some of the people most involved in online communities.

I have become more and more convinced that the future of health care itself, and marketing specifically, lies in community. Here’s why. Read more