The Power Behind Social + Traditional Communications

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Alaska with my colleagues David Landis from our PRGN partner agency in San Francisco, Landis Communications, and GFM’s Jim Licko to provide social media training for SouthcentralFoundation, Alaska Breast and Cervical Health Partnership, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and other partner agencies.

The training sessions were well attended and led to great discussions about today’s most popular social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) and their relevance for various organizations, as well as the importance of measuring an organization’s social media efforts. The conversations also made us very aware of the challenges of communicating with indigenous populations throughout a state that is twice as large as Texas and in which small planes and snow machines are the only way to get to many villages.

What we determined is that social media is not THE answer to these challenges, but that it is a great supplement to the various channels of communication available to health providers reaching out to audiences near and far. This is a great point for all of us to remember, regardless of what your products or services might include.

While social media is the newest shiny object, it is not the end-all, be-all and must be part of a comprehensive, strategic communications mix. For example, driving people to your company’s Facebook page via a QR code promoted at a special event can increase traffic to your website – if you provide the right mix of content on your Facebook page to serve those who land there. It could also directly impact the number of people who attend free health screenings or request, in the case of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, free condoms that are shipped anywhere in Alaska upon request.
I’m a big believer in the power of social media, but I also caution all of us not to let more traditional means of communication fall by the wayside while we’re trying to determine the best social media strategies. When you combine traditional communication strategies with your social media strategies your ability to reach a broader audience increases and, in many cases, you’re metrics will be clearer and easier to define. What difficult challenges – like disparate audience or highly dispersed population – have you overcome with an integrated communications campaign? Why did it work?

~ Ramonna Robinson is Vice President and Managing Partner at GroundFloor Media.

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