Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

CHPRMS General Session Day One: Social Media Best Practices from Chris Boyer

December 2, 2010

The CHPRMS Fall Conference kicked off with a general session featuring Chris Boyer, Senior Manager for Digital Communications at Inova Health System. Chris is a long-time Tweeter at Twitter healthcare marketing hashtags #hcmktg and #hcsm and for good reason. He has great insight for both those wading into social media for the first time and for those who consider themselves experienced users.

Rather than rehash what was a great presentation, I’ll pass along what I found to be my biggest takeaway from Chris’ session: pure positioning.

Many hospitals are positioning themselves with a product mindset: with the subject being a surgery, doctor, da Vinci robot, or new patient tower. But the answer is not a pure service message that’s based on amiability and compassion. He suggests it’s somewhere in the middle: a message that focuses on building trust. Patients want to know that hospitals can effectively address their issues and that they won’t get hurt in the process.

One of the greatest tools for building trust in today’s marketing budget: social media.

Whether your hospital participates in social media or not is 100% irrelevant. The conversations are already happening around you. People are telling several hundred friends about a nice nurse who went the extra mile for their family member in a status update. People are crabbing on Twitter about waiting too long in their doctor’s waiting room. People share triumphs, joys, petty complaints and sometimes untruths mistakenly attributed to your hospital. Social media is an opportunity for two-way communication with fans and foes but you have to be there to take part.

There are a million blog posts out there that tell you how and why to get involved in social media already so rather than go there I’ll share these points from Chris as he wrapped up his presentation today.

First, hospital marketers have to realize the role social media has and will have now and in the future. You have to change your message and how you market it. Facebook isn’t going away and it’s somewhere people live; it’s not like search. People do not spend hours sharing and liking on Google.

Second, if your organization is not participating you have to start or risk being left behind. If you participate in social media already, you have to get better.

Third, you need a good social media policy (so everyone knows the rules), to open doors (so everyone has access) and you need a plan (so you’re not wasting the precious little time you have).

Fourth, you need the right team and you need to target the right audience. And last, you need to measure. Rather than striving for friends, fans and followers, search for deeper meaning. Broaden your reach. Build your reputation. Cultivate relationships. And measure your results.

Chris shared several great case studies. The first, from Swedish, promoted their sleep lab services. The second was Innova’s Fit for 50 wellness initiative.

He shared way more than what I have covered here but it’s a lot to think about whether you’re tweeting, blogging or still watching from the sidelines. How will you move forward?

Raising employee and patient satisfaction with social media.

November 3, 2010

Use social media to engage your customers! It seems like this is all anyone talks about these days – “the 10 best tricks,” “the three worst pitfalls” and don’t forget to tweet.

What if we dropped back a level and first engaged our employees. The Mayo Clinic did just that. In 2008 they launched a blog for employees called “Let’s Talk” to help explain and discuss a new strategic plan. They implemented an online vehicle allowing staff to propose ideas that could better their working environment or patient care. The Mayo Clinic also posts department blogs, videos and more for their staff. The point being, that the employees learn what the organization is doing from multiple channels and multiple points of view. They see their colleagues’ ideas and thoughts about proposed initiatives. They are part of the discussion and not on the sidelines waiting for whatever comes their way. They have a vested interest in the organization.

Maybe this is one of the reasons the Mayo Clinic is featured in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” and why they have low-turnover rates and high patient satisfaction ratings.

People want to be a part of something they are proud of. It’s human nature. If they are part of the team they won’t want to be the person who drops the ball. And if they are happy and invested in their job they are one of the best ambassadors your brand can have.

I once worked with a company whose mantra was “take care of your employees and they will take care of the customer,” a pretty basic but important idea. You can tweet all you want about successes or new services, but an unhappy employee personally sours the patient’s or customer’s experience. So the next time you think about how social media can promote your brand, think close to home first.

 

Breaking the Piñata: When is too much information, too much?

September 16, 2010

Four days, 6 general sessions, 70 break-out workshops, 119 exhibitors, dozens of exchanges during breaks and luncheons with fellow attendees and the SHSMD 2010 conference is complete.

Rich with content and excited to share these pretty, shiny nuggets of knowledge with you, I’m struggling to find a starting point.

It’s almost like cracking open a piñata and not being certain of the direction in which I should scamper. Which goodies do I want to hoard for myself? Which ones do I want to share with others? Which ones do I find fascinating and you may find irrelevant?

I could craft a summary of the SHSMD conference and provide an overview of all the tidbits I’ve gathered, but the final product would be more like a dissertation rather than a blog entry.

Bursting at the seams, I feel like Adam in Paradise Lost when Raphael warned:

 “But Knowledge is as food, and needs no less

Her Temperance over Appetite, to know

In measure what the mind may well contain,

Oppresses else with Surfeit, and soon turns

Wisdom to Folly, as Nourishment to Wind.”

 Now that consumers have developed an excessive craving for conversation, education and details, what makes for a successful online interaction?

Just like biting into a juicy apple, you want to give your consumer digestible bits of information.

As marketers, we need to get out of broadcast mode where we craft our talking points, add some nice graphics or even a video, and post content to the web as another means of pushing out our messages. As The Cluetrain Manifesto laments, we’re still treating the online market as “eyeballs” rather than as people engaged in conversation.

Similar to chatting it up with a fellow attendee at a conference, you need to have a genuine delivery that leads to a positive exchange of ideas and dialogue. Not too much information where you overwhelm the other person and turn them off. Rather, the right balance of content that leaves them satisfied – and wanting seconds.

I can keep serving up my sampling of the conference, but what are you craving? Click brochure to get an overview of the SHSMD 2010 conference. Then, send me a note at kcionek@adamsgroup.com and tell me what topic you would like discussed next.

Nike+ Unleashes a Data-driven Revolution

September 10, 2010

I think anyone who actually admits to enjoying running can legitimately call themselves a runner. A few years ago, I would have never called myself a runner. An iPod and Nike+ changed that.

Nike+ is a sensor system created by Nike and Apple that works with an iPod and the Nike+ website to track a runner’s data – distance, pace, caloric burn and more – over time. According to this 2009 Wired article, Nike, through Nike+, has gathered the largest community of runners ever assembled — more than 1.2 million runners who have collectively tracked more than 130 million miles and burned more than 13 billion calories. And those are last year’s numbers.

Amassing loads of data has uncovered interesting running stats. Like that people in the US run more often in winter than those in Europe and Africa. More often, but for shorter distances. That the average duration of a run worldwide is 35 minutes. The most popular day to run? Sunday. Even the songs we most often choose for extra amps of power.

You can track your data on the website, and even broadcast run stats on Twitter and Facebook. And why on Earth would anyone want to do that? The article explains something called the Hawthorne Effect. The theory that people change their behavior — often for the better — when they are being observed. An effect you can see in real-time on millions of Facebook statuses each day.

Did Nike and Apple create Nike+ to sell more stuff? Of course. But they have not rested on their leading-edge laurels. The products have evolved and the product line has grown. The irritating shoe sensor is now history thanks to a new GPS-utilizing software app that launched this week.

In a few short years, Nike has done more than sell more pairs of shoes. They have created a worldwide community of millions that are engaged and excited about running. A strategy that will surely pay dividends in the long run.

Healthcare social media: it’s about location, location, location

August 31, 2010

One of the biggest trends in healthcare social media is location-based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Britekite, Google Places for businesses, Google Latitude – and now, Facebook Places.   Twitter also incorporates location sourcing as well as the online review site, Yelp!

Location-based social media channels are game-like apps that allow you to “check in” wherever you are – home, Starbucks, a ballgame, the hospital – to share your location and see where your friends are.

Retailers like Starbucks and Gap have jumped on the opportunity to offer benefits to those who check-in frequently at a store or entice those in the area with instant coupons.  Sort of the ultimate in geo-targeting.  Facebook Places also is gearing up for location-sensitive advertising

As popular as these social media services have been, Facebook has just brought them to them to the masses – all 500 million members.

So, if you don’t already have a profile set up for your healthcare organization, you soon will – courtesy of your patients.  That could be an important first impression for your hospital.

Check to see what listings may already exist in case they need to be corrected or enhanced.  If none, here are some how-tos on getting your hospital set up:

  • Facebook Places – You must claim your Place and validate your information.  Per Facebook’s Help Center: If your business’s Place already exists on Facebook, click on it to visit its page.  At the bottom left side of your Place there will be a link that says “Is this your business?”  Click on the link and you will be directed to a claiming flow.
  • Foursquare
  • Gowalla.  This app is becoming a go-to channel for travelers, so take note if your hospital is near a major interstate or part of a tourist destination.
  • Google Places
  • Twitter Places
  • Yelp!
  • Localeze.  This company is providing some of the business listings for Facebook Places, Twitter Places and other search engines.  You may want to check or set up your listing with them as well.

Location-based services help patients and families integrate your healthcare organization in their social media outreach.  Imagine them sharing “baby’s on the way” or “headed to emergency surgery” or “last chemo treatment!” 

We’d love to hear any other examples or benefits from social media geo-tagging or location listings.

Social Media Use in Southeast Hospitals

August 24, 2010

Social media in healthcare seems to be growing exponentially. Or does it?  For starters, let’s look at hospitals in the Southeast. 

Based on the Hospital Social Network List (last updated July 24), 112 hospitals across six Southeastern states engage in social media.  That’s an average of just 16% of short term acute care hospitals (not including children’s hospitals).

State Using SM Total ST-Acute (AHD.com) % in SM YouTube Facebook Twitter Blogs
AL 6 100 6% 4 5 5 0
FL 40 213 19% 20 27 26 5
GA 19 115 17% 12 18 11 2
NC 17 106 16% 8 10 16 5
SC 16 64 25% 7 14 14 3
TN 14 117 12% 8 9 12 2
               
Totals 112 715 16% 59 83 84 17

While social media may not be right for all of these hospitals, the numbers seem surprisingly low especially when considering the wealth of facts validating the top social platforms.

Danny Brown recently shared excellent stats on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.  Some of the highlights: 

Facebook  

  • The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
  • There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. [Does your hospital have a mobile-friendly site? What about your Facebook page design?]
  • People that access Facebook via mobile are twice as active than non-mobile users.
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared each month.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events.
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

Statistics from Facebook press office

Twitter 

  • Twitter gets more than 300,000 new users every day.
  • There are currently 110 million users of Twitter’s services.
  • Twitter receives 180 million unique visits each month.
  • There are more than 600 million searches on Twitter every day – more than Yahoo and Bing combined.
  • More than a third of users access Twitter via their mobile phone.

Statistics from Twitter and the Chirp Conference.  

YouTube 

  • The very first video uploaded in April 2005. By June 2006, more than 65,000 videos were being uploaded every day.
  • YouTube receives more than 2 billion viewers per day.
  • Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.

Statistics from YouTube press center

Blogs 

  • 77% of Internet users read blogs.
  • There are currently 133 million blogs listed on leading blog directory Technorati.
  • Bloggers use an average of five different social sites to drive traffic to their blog.

Statistics from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2009 .  
Hopefully, these stats may help you build a case for jumping into social media at your healthcare organization – or expanding your outreach into other channels. 
 

The Big List of Smart Hospital Marketing Ideas

August 6, 2010

Ideas are the lifeblood of what we do.  Particularly, smart healthcare marketing ideas that work.  My colleagues and I have come across some great ones in the last few months at conferences, in blog posts, on social media and via healthcare trades.

Problem is, where are all these ideas when you need a little inspiration?  Maybe tucked in the back of your head, on some Delicious posts, RSS, bookmarked pages, saved emails, Twitter favorites or a good-old-fashioned, printed-out tickler file.  Maybe a little too spread out to be a good resource.

So, here are a few of our recent favorites jam-packed into one post for easy access.

From the South Carolina Hospital Association Conference in June 2010 featuring University of Maryland Medical Center’s Ed Bennett and Reed Smith, a consultant for St. David’s HealthCare in Texas (Full recap here and following #smrev)

  • Tell people where they can connect with you on social media every chance you get.  Beyond your website, include social media icons in print ads, online banner ads and TV spots – plus direct mail, collateral, health education sessions, registration, discharge, etc.
  • Develop custom tabs on Facebook for service lines, news, your Twitter feed, etc.  UMMC features good web content on an active Ask the Expert tab.
  • Or kill two birds with one stone like Children’s Hospital Boston, which has a Connect tab of links to all its Facebook pages, Twitter feed, YouTube channels, eBooks and more.
  • Consider setting up profiles on user-generated sites such as Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla so patients and families can integrate your organization in their social media outreach.  Imagine them sharing “baby’s on the way” or “headed to emergency surgery”!  (Not so sure? Foursquare just hit 1 million check-ins per day.)
  • Use Facebook as another outlet to discover powerful patient stories. They often start with one unsolicited comment from a reader.
  • Facebook walls also are good place for employees to see the impact they make in people’s lives.  Share examples of what consumers saying about your hospital online, as well as through traditional feedback channels.
  • Remember that beyond connecting, Facebook is good (and cheap) for target advertising.  See one hospital’s experiment and results here.
  • Non-profit hospitals can set up a free call to action to embed on YouTube videos.  That could give a big boost to Foundation efforts.
  • To encourage more views on YouTube, include a full explanation with keywords on every video post.
  • Does your organization have its own Wikipedia page? Or hi-res pics on Flickr for the media?
  • Embed e-newsletters and podcasts on YouTube & Podbean for exposure beyond Facebook or Twitter.
  • 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).  
  • 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.
  • During employee orientation, talk about appropriate social media and web use.  Outline your hospital’s social media policy in detail.
  • Search Twitter and other social media sites for people asking for physician recommendations and kindly suggest the hospital physician referral services. (Twitter just surpassed Yahoo & Bing as the fastest growing search engine.)  
  • Lead a social media workshop for board, senior team, top hospital ambassadors and any doubters.

From the Georgia Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations conference, May 2010. (Full recap here and following #gshmpr)

  • If you haven’t already, look into a mobile platform for your website.  Usually these are completely different sites and maintained separately from the main site.
  • At a minimum, make sure ER & urgent care info is on your mobile platform. Most people search on their way.
  • Explore greater mobile connectivity with additional options. –E-community has a pregnancy text message program (great for hospitals promoting women’s services). — Northshore Long Island Jewish Hospital has the mobile option to share your location while en route.  — Beth Israel Deaconess and Scott White Healthcare have multiple iPhone apps. Some have Blackberry apps due to high physician adoption.
  • Be sure to check which browsers access your mobile site the most.  (You may see mostly iPhone and Blackberry but Droid and iPad numbers are rising quickly.)

Other great ideas

  • Orlando Health launched an integrated campaign called “Family Is” and asked patients to submit photos, videos, and statements of what family means to them – via Facebook.  The “Family Is e-Scrapbook” has received hundreds of responses so far.
  • The No. 1 Element of an Effective Hospital Fan Page is a custom Facebook URL. Then, direct audiences to your URL. Put it in all marketing like your main site.
  • Think “find us on” or “follow me on” sound self-centered, not patient-centered? Create your own “talk to us” on Twitter badge.
  • Create employee webisodes for consumer outreach, employee relations and recruiting. Peer-recommended staffers can tell what they love about the hospital. Post across social media channels, then put all videos on a loop to show during career fairs.
  • Randolph Hospital hosted an event at its cancer center featuring five laptops for staff to show unfamiliar patients how to get on social media – to connect with friends and the hospital. 
  • In June, the Mayo Clinic launched The Mayo Effect, an ambitious internal communication effort with a twist. Each face-to-face meeting that leaders conducted opened with an edgy “You-Tube-style” video, followed by a presentation by the CEO (filled with stories rather than lots of PowerPoint) and an open discussion with him.  Mayo made these meetings and discussions available to all employees through different media. The CEO also pointed employees to a refreshed website and new blog as the main resources for the details of the plan. Within the first few weeks, 22,000 employees logged on to the website. 

Of course, this list is just a start.  Add your own, and let’s build a great healthcare idea resource.

SCHA Social Media Workshop – The Afternoon Sessions

June 24, 2010

There’s more to getting started in social media than hashtags and status updates. There are hard truths that need to be examined. Or buzzkills, as one speaker so eloquently labeled himself. In other words, plan and prepare.

ROI
First up, does social media even make sense for your organization? Reed and Ed co-led a thoughtful discussion on ROI and social media. There are a few ways you can frame ROI with social media. Including:

  • Social media metrics (number of followers, message reach, number of fans, interactions)
  • Direct value (resulting new patients via word of mouth, word of mouse and direct interaction)
  • Indirect value (service recovery, customer service, brand monitoring, media and community outreach, patient education, recruitment, employee retention and crisis communications)

Ed pointed out that with such a small entry cost and little capital investment required, any value is ROI. The main real cost will end up being time. He also cautioned that ROI can’t just measure sheer numbers, the quality of interactions themselves have value.

With many healthcare facilities and processes getting a bad rap for being behind the times, social media is an excellent place to be fresh and modern. Whether it’s apologizing for an errant bill or ownership of a frustrated consumer’s problem, most consumers are surprised, amazed and appreciative that someone is listening. And not all interactions are bad, typically there are more positive ones that can recharge a tired nurse or department.

Still not convinced there’s value? Think about the exact ROI of services such as pastoral care, front desk staff, groundskeepers and housekeeping staff. Or, as Ed said quoting David Scott, “What’s the ROI for putting your pants on in the morning?”

Ed and Reed agreed there are certain services that are expected in this day and age, it’s part of doing business. Just as websites are now the norm, they both believe social media will become part of the typical consumer’s expectations.

Legal Issues
Next came Michael Shetterly from Ogletree Deakins Law Firm with a sobering and entertaining discussion of social media ramifications. He likened the evolving, ever-moving social media realm to giving your employees the keys to the car. Social media is so new and changing so fast, the Supreme Court has only had two cases that involve social media and one of them happened last week.

What areas must be considered when implementing social media? A lot. FTC guidelines. HIPAA. Privacy of staff, patients and the lady in the background of your hilarious hand-washing video. Copyright. PHI. Not to mention employee use of social media, web and texting.

Michael advised organizations to keep their social media guidelines and employee use guidelines up to date and very specific. Revise policies to reflect use of social media and blogs and to insulate against liability. Be sure to share policies with all employees and offer real-use training.

Panel Discussion
Last on the agenda was a panel discussion. The panel featured a range of hospitals and personnel including:

  • Andy Busam, Public Relations, Coordinator, Randolph Hospital
  • Dr. David Geier, Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, MUSC
  • Sally Foister, Director of Marketing Services, Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center
  • Ronda Wilson, Marketing and Communications Director, Georgetown Hospital System

So let’s start the sharing right here, Social Media Revolutionaries. What were your biggest takeaways from the panel discussion?

SCHA Hosts Social Media Workshop for Hospitals

June 24, 2010

SCHA’s one-day social media workshop (tweets at #smrev) will no doubt get the social media wheels whirring at many SC hospitals. The morning sessions featured Reed Smith and Ed Bennett, two social media rocket scientists.

Reed took workshop participants through the social marketing mix advising them to approach social media with a different set of the 4 P’s of marketing. Instead of Product, Place, Price and Promotion, he suggested Policy, Purpose, People and Plan. Reed’s plan for social media?

  1. Listen and monitor. Search for existing communities and content. Identify ongoing conversations and blogs.
  2. Join the conversation. Leave the sales-y mentality behind. Ask questions and participate. Being involved gives you credibility and the opportunity to talk about what you do.
  3. Measure. Look at what’s working and what’s not.

In addition to connecting with external audiences, Reed advised that social media is also a great way to connect with staff and physicians for recruitment and retention. For staff, noting good deeds and awards is magnified on a Facebook wall. Their family will likely see it, as well as the average Facebook user’s 150 “friends.” In employee recruitment, social media can be a welcome alternative to the local chamber website and give a feel for what’s going on at your organization. Having information accessible is to your advantage, too. Your prospects are doing brand research on your organization, too.

Reed advised tying social media efforts to traditional ones:

  • Include social media icons or links in print, digital and broadcast communications.
  • Put links to Facebook pages and blogs on your website and reciprocal links back to Facebook.
  • Even include descriptions of social media vehicles for less social-savvy consumers.

He also discussed user-generated sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla and YouTube which allow organizations to amend user content by adding special offers and information, contact data, reviews and more.

Reed advised hospitals that it does take time to manage social media but that it can be managed efficiently. Social media can be a valuable tactic in your marketing arsenal.

All that just from the first speaker. Next up was Ed Bennett.

Ed’s presentation was chock full of data on national social media use. His Found in Cache blog includes special widgets displaying hospital social media activity in SC (and NC) hospitals. Ed kicked off his presentation with an interesting tidbit on why social media matters. Google has cruised along as the #1 website for years. Facebook, a relative newcomer to the scene has surpassed Google in website visits. That’s like John’s Hopkins, who has dominated the US News & World Report’s America’s Best Hospitals list for years, suddenly dropping to number two.

Ed, who has been following social media data for years, has noticed a 10% decrease in non-social media web traffic as people spend more time on social media. After all, he said, there are only so many hours in the day. The dissemination of information has undergone a fundamental change. Where we were once provided information through traditional marketing, e-mail campaigns and first generation websites, today we get information from our friends and through social media.

Ed’s social media program goals are basic and effective:

  • To enhance and enable word of mouth.
  • Perform brand and reputation monitoring.
  • Media corrections.
  • Get his hospital “in the room” (be a part of social media).
  • Establish his hospital as a trusted source. Build on the current web program. One of Ed’s stongest suggestions is to be “in the room.”

Being “in the room” is especially critical if something goes wrong or there is a crisis. You can’t get in the room when a crisis happens; you should have been there already. Rather then being on the defensive or unprepared, your community will likely support you if they know and trust you already. More important, they will come to your defense and help you.

Ed suggested that YouTube is a nice, “safe” way to get started on social media. His “secret sauce” for more views? When you upload videos, be sure to utilize the 250-300 word description and to use relevant key words for search. Also, be sure to secure non-profit status when applicable. He also advised that as much as we’d like, we can’t plan for something to go viral, just be ready in case it does. Have the behind-the-scenes story ready and other relevant information in case the content catches.

Ed suggests branding your social media efforts closely to your organization to prevent ambiguity. Ed’s a Twitter guy and likes it for the searchability and amount of raw information. Right now, he says it’s a smaller community but it’s a great place for reputation monitoring and service recovery.  He gives Facebook props for its ability to engage and build communities. As far as how much to tweet or update your status, Ed suggests no more than 2-4 times a day. But that guideline can go out the window if there’s something of quality to share.

Ed showed how they are pushing their Facebook page by embedding good content from their website such as an active Ask the Expert tab. Facebook has helped the hospital find patient stories that started with one unsolicited comment from a reader. The Facebook wall is also a good place for employees to see the impact they make in people’s lives. Even in acknowledging service breakdowns, an apology and acknowledgement can yield positive benefits.

Ed also suggested making a blog a home base for all social media activity. On a blog you have more control. Then you can add Facebook and Twitter, if those a part of your plan. Add Twitter and blog feeds to your website.

Ed offers these insights:

  • Try social media. It’s not that hard or scary
  • Find passionate people to manage the communities.
  • Learn from his mistakes. Start with policy and legal review, then implement. Be sure social media is accessible to employees. If it’s not, start the effort to make it accessible from the workplace. They’re already accessing it from their smart phones. It’s also helpful if you want to be seen as a progressive employer.
  • Last, don’t use the word blog. Call it something else if you can. That term can send up stonewalls on social media efforts.

All that information from the first two speakers. The afternoon sessions featured a discussion on ROI with Ed and Reed, legalities of social media use with Michael Shetterly of Ogletree Deakins Law Firm and a panel Q&A with several hospitals and a physician using social media. A post will follow on the afternoon session.

It was a full day of useful information for those using social media and those pondering the use of social media.

Social Media Listening

June 22, 2010

One of the greatest benefits of social media participation is the opportunity it gives you to listen. Listen to what “fans” are saying about your business and industry. Listen to customers’ (and potential customers’) topics of interest at any given time. Listen to understand what’s working in the market and what isn’t. Listen to what competitors are saying and what’s being said about them.

All you have to do to open your ears is activate an account. This listening phase is a perfect entrance to social media efforts. It’s time to grasp the opportunities and etiquette of social media such as Facebook and Twitter if you’re unfamiliar with them. Time to activate free tools such as Google alerts. Time to develop a social media strategy and processes for resolution before going “live” with your efforts.

Radian 6 has a great eBook on activating a social media effort.

Rather than hitting the ground tweeting, take a few weeks to stretch, warm up and acclimate to new media. This readying phase will likely uncover activists and detractors alike as well as what’s being said about you or your competitors.

That knowledge is a great foundation to build social media efforts upon.


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