Healthcare Marketing: Is Social Media Worth the Risks?

stethascope-computerIt’s better to be in the conversation than to not even know one is occurring. 

There is so much talk these days about hospitals using social media. About half the articles you find on healthcare marketing seem to involve social media. Many of my blogs are about social media. Most healthcare marketers are talking about it and an ever increasing number are utilizing it.

But there are risks involved. And those risks are quickly articulated by upper management. “Using social media invites people to say negative things about you. Negative things that other people can read. And by having a Facebook page or a Twitter account you are creating the venue for people to say unfavorable things. Why would you create that opportunity?”

The argument is you have no control over what people say about you. But is that really true?

By not being active in social media and not monitoring what is being discussed about your hospital, you truly don’t have any control over what’s being said. If you are engaged you have the opportunity to join the conversation. To react to the comments, whether they are positive or negative. And to express your concern and desire to be helpful.

Managers are often frustrated because someone has a negative experience, says nothing about it at the time and then talks about it in their social circles. The manager says that if they had only known about the problem it could have been addressed. The frustration has merit. But isn’t that one of the things social media allows you to do? It lets you in on the conversation so you can respond appropriately. Wouldn’t we want to know about an issue instead of sticking our head in the sand?

Certainly there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to enter the conversation, which is the topic of another blog. But having the opportunity of joining in the conversation is a great advantage.

And simply by engaging in the conversation, any negative talk can be toned down or eliminated. In addition to possibly continuing the discussion off line and addressing specific issues, sometimes just by joining the conversation the complainer loses much of his boldness. It’s easy for someone to rant and rave angrily about a problem if the one who is the subject of the anger is not in the conversation. But many times, by engaging in the discussion and putting a face on the organization, a person very quickly backs down.

It’s easier to talk behind a person’s back than to confront them face-to-face, even in social media.

 Are there risks involved in utilizing social media? Absolutely. But the greater risk is not being engaged and allowing the conversation to continue behind your back.


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