Archive for May, 2010

Social Media and Its Impact on Brands

May 12, 2010

For many of our healthcare clients, social media is a medium they aren’t quite comfortable using yet. Many question whether it’s useful, how the flow of information can be controlled, who is going to manage it (they certainly don’t have the extra time to do that!) and wonder if they should try using it.

We believe social media can be used advantageously. One way, which is currently playing out in several mainstream news stories, is to use it as a tool to share your side of the story, to provide facts when a crisis situation occurs, and sometimes, an apology, if one is warranted.  

 In a recent Hospital Impact article, Recent Headlines Provide a Lesson for Hospital, author Nancy C. Jean discusses how social media can be used in this exact manner. As you all know by now, BP is waging a battle against negative publicity due to the massive oil spill in the Gulf.  Social media provides BP a real-time venue to explain what they are doing to contain and clean-up the problem. Paul Levy, the well-known blogging CEO of Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, has also been experiencing image problems lately due to lack of transparency regarding a relationship with an employee.  Levy, however, did issue an apology through a statement to the media as well as on his blog to his readers. Levy’s blog apology on May 3 has generated a fair amount of support from his readers and will probably help contain the damage to his brand.

Through social media, information (both truth and rumors) has the capability to almost instantaneously reach large numbers of people. It can reinforce or tarnish your brand. But, if you do not participate, you can not respond to threats to your brand.

 As my father used to say, sometimes negative reinforcement works better as a persuasion tool.  So, for those hospitals thinking about whether they should give social media a try, my question is: how can you not use social media as a tool to reach consumers?

CHPRMS Spring Conference & GSHMPR Recap

May 10, 2010

Friday we headed to the Carolinas Healthcare Marketing and PR Society (CHPRMS) Spring Conference at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC.

 The first session was about growing both your personal brand and company’s. Good takeaways:

  • A healthcare brand is a “trust mark.” How do you demonstrate that your brand is trustworthy?
  • Credibility is a leader’s most prized resource. Even if you’re not the top hospital in your market, do you act like it?
  •  If you’re not working on something that scares the *#$%* out of you, you’re not growing.

A CHPRMS member then gave an inspiring report on her mission trip to provide healthcare in Haiti during the earthquake. CHPRMS surprised her with a check for $1,000 for more aid.  Very touching!

Sessions 2 and 3 focused on consumer research and a national consumer campaign.  Quick points:

  • The economy has made consumers seek more meaningful experiences. Trust is crucial. How is your hospital delivering?
  • AHA research shows hospitals that best demonstrate trust will be best positioned for future growth.
  • What will motivate an audience in pre-contemplative stage (ignorance) regarding healthcare issues? Smart social marketing and intrusive media.

GSHMPR – Day 3

Back at Lake Oconee, the last day of GSHMPR at the Ritz Carlton at Reynolds Plantation highlighted web strategy and making the most of opportunities.

A Georgia hospital is taking advantage of a unique opportunity with a new local TV station to develop health programming.  By partnering with University students and the station, Athens Regional Medical Center is developing a ongoing, 30-minute show on community wellness – including tips to keep you healthier and out of the hospital as well as great personal stories.  The station is soliciting advertisers for the show, creating a win-win-win.

As for website strategery:

  • Nielsen’s #1 rule of Web usability: “99% of the time your users spend online, they spend on sites other than yours.” (And they compare you to everything else.)
  • Understand your audience and listen – ask target audiences/award winners/Web 2.0 leaders what they want from your site.
  • Develop a strategic plan for achieving those goals through social media and other communications channels.
  • 79% of users scan pages, while only 16% read word-by-word (Source: Useit.com).  Use 50% less words than traditional advertising.
  • Physician directory – place links where they’re highly visible and where users opt-in for information.
  • Use web analytics to track results.

Whew!  Three days jam-packed with good info and fun people.  If you attended GSHMPR or CHPRMS, we’d love to hear what your top takeaways were.  Drop us a comment!

GSHMPR Recap – Day 2 of Georgia Healthcare Marketing

May 6, 2010

Today was all about healthcare social media.  Our first session was a good 101 with some nuggets:

  • Remember that beyond connecting, Facebook is good (and cheap) for target advertising.
  • Non-profit hospitals can set up a free call to action to embed on YouTube videos.
  • Does your organization have its own Wikipedia page? Or hi-res pics on Flickr for the media?
  • Embed e-newsletters on YouTube & Podbean for exposure beyond Facebook or Twitter.
  • Direct audiences to a custom (vanity) Facebook URL for your hospital – put it in all marketing like you main site URL.
  • Are you developing custom tabs on Facebook for service lines, news, your Twitter feed, etc?

Session 2 focused on selling social media to all the Doubting Thomases in the organization.  Good points:

  • Define expectations and ROI with the senior team.  ROI may be best tracked on short-term campaigns, not an overall effort.
  • If you aren’t already, search Twitter and other social media sites for people asking for physician recommendations and kindly suggest the hospital physician referral services.
  • 71% of all organizations block social media sites, but staff can (and are) are accessing them via mobile devices, regardless.  Teach them staff to use social media wisely.  One hospital posted flyers with reminders and simple guidelines.
  • Share examples of what consumers saying about your hospital online, as well as traditional feedback channels.
  • Lead a social media workshop for board, senior team, top hospital ambassadors and any doubters.
  • Ask which social media channels your audiences are using – on exit surveys, class registrations, consumer research, etc – to best target your efforts (and help prove value if needed).  

 After a little break, we’ll find out who won this year’s Target Awards!  Stay tuned.

GSHMPR – Day 1 of Georgia Healthcare Marketing Conference

May 6, 2010

While it was tough to be inside on a glorious day on Lake Oconee, two good sessions kicked off the Georgia Society of Healthcare Marketing and PR annual conference. 

The first, Marketing to Men, outlined ideas for targeting the other half, noting:

  • Healthcare is an irrelevant topic to men until 40+ years old.
  • Men do react to an emotional appeal, but open with facts first.
  • During registration for any event, have staff ask if your spouse would be interested in any topics (and draw them in).
  • Some hospitals are having success offering couples screening packages, especially about cardiac and stroke.
  • Guys like high tech – how can best can you play that up?
  • When marketing to men, always appeal to the woman, too.

Which leads me back to: Do we really need to target men?  What do you think?

 Session 2 focused on mobile websites – scaled-down versions of a main hospital website for mobile phone viewing – including:

  • Make sure ER & urgent care info is on your mobile platform. Most people search on their way.
  • Nearly 30% of hospitals surveyed don’t have plans to develop a mobile version (much higher than I thought).
  • Average cost for an external partner to create a mobile website: $11,000.  Usually these are completely different sites and maintained separately from the main site.
  • E-community has pregnancy text message program on its mobile website (great for hospitals promoting women’s services)
  • Northshore Long Island Jewish Hospital has a mobile option to share your location while en route.  Imagine sharing “baby’s on the way” or “headed to emergency surgery”!
  • Beth Israel Deaconess and Scott White Healthcare each have developed multiple iPhone apps. Some have Blackberry apps due to high physician adoption. Be sure to check which browsers use your mobile site the most. Our audience is seeing mostly iPhone and Blackberry but Droid and iPad numbers are rising quickly and may require site adjustments.

After that, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a margarita (or two) as the sun set over the lake, followed by the Ritz’s nightly custom of s’mores by the fire pit.  Can Day 2 top that?!


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