Healthcare Marketing: How to Use Social Media to Deal with a Mistake

Seven suggestions on how to use social media to help deal with mistakes.

Every brand makes mistakes.  And in a consumer-driven environment it rarely goes unnoticed.  Consumers use social networking to air their gripes and get it off their chests.  And out into the marketplace. Everyday we hear of another brand faced with mistakes they’ve made which are exposed on social networking sites.  Some respond very well.  Others only make matters worse.  It’s treacherous.  And it’s not an exact science.  Social interactions and engagements never are about science.  It’s about listening, learning, adjusting, adapting, and being sincere.

Rupal Parekh and Edmund Lee recently wrote an article in Ad Age providing pointers on how “to effectively apologize to customers and turn a potential headache into a winning display of customer service, served up social-media style”.

Their pointers are right on.  And they can be very helpful to all hospital marketers.

1. One is many – When it comes to social media, whether it’s one or many, consumers are empowered.  Every customer can influence your brand’s reputation.  Just one person can affect many others.

2. Engage immediately – Never stay silent. Even if you don’t know the answer,  just say so.  But respond….immediately.  Silence allows the negative message to be circulated and re-circulated and to gain momentum.

3. Be honest and take responsibility – Don’t blame someone else.  Don’t pass it off as a glitch.

4. Lose the corporate-speak – Apologize.  Sincerely. Use a personal tone.  “Advertising gave brands a voice, but social media gave brands a personality”, stated Mike Germano, president and creative director of new-media marketing agency Carrot Creative.

5. Put a face on it – When apologizing or addressing a problem don’t use the corporate account. Response should come from an actual person.

6. Let the fans talk – Develop a strong fan base for your brand before a crisis happens.  Cultivate customers so they will become brand advocates.  And when they do, let them go.

7. Learn from it – Tell consumers how you will prevent the problem from happening again.

Every brand makes mistakes.  They are unavoidable.  The challenge is to use them to enhance your brand and not harm it.  We have seen how brands have done both.  These straightforward suggestions should help your brand rebound when mistakes occur.

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