SCHA Hosts Social Media Workshop for Hospitals


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.

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2 Responses to “SCHA Hosts Social Media Workshop for Hospitals”

  1. It is a Social Media Revolution…I am still thinking! | Audience-Centric Storytelling Says:

    […] – The Adams Group had two great recaps of Social Media Revolution: Part One & Part Two Tags: Ed Bennett, HCSM, Healthcare, hospitals, Patient Safety, Reed Smith, ROI, […]

  2. Say You Want a Revolution in Healthcare Marketing? Alright… « The Adams Group Blog Says:

    […] Hope to see you there and share more resources for healthcare social media, and strategy.  If you can’t make it, follow live updates on Twitter (hashtags: #smrev #hcsm) and check our blog for the event recap. […]

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