Healthcare Marketing: To Facebook or Not to Facebook? That is the Question

Six considerations when determining if your hospital should have a Facebook page. 

Everybody’s got them.  Or so it seems.  And if your hospital doesn’t have a Facebook fan page you’re not hip.  Not with it.  Out of touch and out of step.   That seems to be the prevailing attitude.  And quite frankly there is some truth to it.  But there are some points to be considered before jumping in and throwing up a Facebook page.

A Facebook page can be very effective.  It can help you attract new patients, build loyalty for your brand, educate consumers and build relationships.  But if not done correctly, it may not be worth the effort and can even do harm to your brand.

Shel Holtz with Holtz Communication + Technology writing for ragan.com identified six questions that should be answered before launching a Facebook page.  They are very appropriate for healthcare marketers.

1. Who do you want to become a fan, or like, your Facebook page?

You don’t want just anybody.  Or everybody. There is a target audience you would like to attract.  They may be prospects or current users of your brand.  They may be special interests groups or a certain demographic.  Whomever it may be, they need to be clearly defined before launching a page.

2. What will these audiences expect from your page?

You should have a clear vision of what your target audience wants from liking you.  And the content should give them exactly what they want.  Otherwise you will disappoint an audience that is very important to you.

3. Who else might be attracted to your page?

You may be successful in attracting the very people you want on your page.  But you might also attract others as well.  Are there individuals or groups who are activists and who might want to take issue with your organization?  Do not launch a site unless you are willing to be vulnerable and have a transparent dialogue with those people.  And are you willing to tolerate the things they may post on the site?

4. Who will have the responsibility of caring and feeding the page?

Is there someone who has the time and desire to feed the page?  To keep a page current, to meet expectations, to build relationships and to fulfill your objections someone(s) must take the time to care for it and feed it.  Regularly and consistently.  Too often hospitals launch a page and then the marketing department gets involved in a hundred other things and the page is neglected or abandoned.  If this is the likely result, don’t launch a page.

5. Who will monitor the page?

When fans post questions or make comments, who will be monitoring the page to respond?  And is that person empowered to gather the necessary information to response and speak for the organization?

6. Do you have a contingency plan for unanticipated activity?

Do you have a plan to put into action if a crisis occurs or if persons or groups attempt to be disruptive?  You can’t afford to be unprepared for tough situations that might arise.

Surely there are other considerations as well.  But these are a few key ones that should be addressed.  Yes, Facebook can be a very effective means of communicating and building relationships.  But if not done right, it can also cause harm to your brand. Marketers should have adequate answers to each of the questions listed above before launching into the exciting but risky areas of social networking.

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