I recently attended the Mayo-Ragan Healthcare and Social Media Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. More than 100 internal and external communications specialists and public relations agency representatives from the Mayo Clinic to Kaiser Permanente to Methodist University Hospital to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston were in attendance.
We were all eager to share and learn best practices from one other (as well as cheer on Green Bay, or was it Minnesota, during Monday Night Football). Generally speaking, the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt social media due to the trepidation around HIPAA. However, it was evident at this summit that there are numerous opportunities on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, FlickR, YouTube, Sermo, etc. for hospitals and health-related organizations to engage in this marketing medium and develop a powerful online community for its patients and physicians.
While there were many interesting statistics related to the healthcare industry presented, such as 7.3% of hospitals are engaged in social media and only 30% of companies have a social media policy, what really hit home for me, is that strong case studies and best practices from one industry can be directly applied to another and prove quite successful. Take Operation Smile’s social media model – which, when it found out that its supporters were online, engaged and ready to take action – the nonprofit worked to empower its online supporters to create new smiles for children around the world. Other industries have similar constituents (maybe your “donors” are your college students or physicians at your hospital). Find your social media audience and then work to acquire and cultivate them to become advocates of your brand, to volunteer or donate.
At GroundFloor Media, we officially launched our social media platform in late 2007, although we have been using blogs and online media since 2004 with a variety of campaigns. We have worked with clients in numerous industries including America On the Move, Westwood College, The Children’s Hospital, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Morton’s The Steakhouse, BNSF Railway and Qdoba Mexican Grill in varying degrees to evolve and/or develop their social media programs. Earlier this year, I became a member of GFsM, or GroundFloor Social Media team. We specialize in finding strategic and innovative ways for our clients to engage in social media and set them apart from their competitors. We meet weekly and discuss new trends, social networks, case studies, etc. to ensure we stay on top of these ever changing medium.
Our GFsM team agrees, if you are looking to dip your toe in social media, we say go for it! Start small. Find one social media network to activate and then follow the key influencers in your industry and in social media. Do it as “you” for a coupe weeks and then launch your company’s platform. Talk with your key audiences and engage in the conversation. And as my friend at Operation Smile shared, social media ROI isn’t Return On Investment, but rather Relationships, Opportunities, Involvement. Go ahead, engage and if you get stuck along the way, please call us – we’ll talk you through it.
Oh and one more thing, purchase a Flip Video. You won’t regret it and it can only enhance your social media activities. Start developing your own videos and post them to YouTube, Facebook and your Web site.
I extend a big thanks to Mayo Clinic and Ragan Communications for hosting a wonderful summit and securing excellent spokespeople!