Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My hospital has a Facebook page & a Twitter Account! Now What??

Your CEO/Administrator came to you and told you that she/he wanted you to get your hospital on Facebook and Twitter. You jumped right to it and got it done. Great! Check that off of the "to-do" list! Back to the newsletter, newspaper ad, direct mail campaign, the 132 unread emails in your inbox - whatever you were working on.

You ask yourself - "Self, what do I do now?" Self replies - "Do you have a strategy?" - You answer- "Sure, to make the CEO/Administrator happy?" Ok - so the cart is now in front of the horse and you need to reign it in a bit and get a plan developed.

As Chris Brogan stated in his June 13, 2008 (yes there was social media before 2009) blog article "Starting a Social Media Strategy" ( - "Begin with the End in Mind" - further defined that "strategy isn't the goal. It's the path you plan to take to get there."

As a simple financial minded person - my approach is a bit elementary - it is the 5 "W's" of "who/what/where/when/why"...

WHAT - Before you start some busy work answering the "Now What?" question - figure out what you are trying to accomplish - what is the goal - what is the end game. Are you trying to increase your patient/customer base, increase market share, reduce outmigration, promote your medical staff, become a health information resource in your community, improve internal communication with your staff, promote service lines... the list goes on and on...

WHO - who is going to maintain your social media activities? while these are "free" tools - there is considerable staff time required to maintain them and execute your plan appropriately. Make sure you get this figured out and and make sure that "who" matches up with the "what" - get the right people/person on the right seat on the bus!

Where - what social media channel are you going to be on besides Facebook and Twitter? There are dozens of social media channels/tools/avenues available to you. My advice - start small - do not over commit yourself - do a couple right to begin with - make sure you have solid execution of your plan/strategy. From a hospital perspective - I would probably advocate for just starting with a Facebook page. You will be amazed at how many of your employees already have a Facebook account. Invite them to "fans" of your hospital - encourage them to promote your hospital page to their friends - this is where the "viral" component comes into play. Facebook is very powerful and has many tools to use - i.e. video, audio, etc.

When - when are you going to provide updates/information? daily, weekly, hourly, monthly?? This really depends on what you are trying to accomplish and what messages you are trying to convey. Remember that a key component and advantage of these social media tools is to "engage your community (fans)" not necessarily "market" to them. Encourage a dialog among your community. Be consistent - your community/fans needs to "hear" from you on a fairly consistent basis or they will forget about you - remember this is a "microwave" world now.

Why - this needs to be tied back to your strategy - why are doing this? Why are you promoting your Women's Services, new docs? You should be past the point of justifying why you have adopted social media tool(s). You do not want to be part of the "the internet is a fad" crowd. These tools are clearly here and either we adopt them or we will be left in the dust.

In summary - like anything else you do , to be successful you need to have a solid strategy, plan of attack, and answers to the 5 "W's". There are MANY resources available to you by simply doing a Google search on "How" to use the tools - but these are more logistical-based rather than answers to your facility-specific goals and objectives.

Best wishes and good luck with your social media journey!


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