Most hospitals use Facebook very passively and therefore are failing to take advantage of the opportunities the social media provides.
Ed Bennett, a social media resource for healthcare marketers, keeps a running tab on how many hospitals are active in social media, states that over 900 hospitals mange social networking sites. And the numbers continue to climb. However, a recent study indicates that of the 700 hospitals that have Facebook sites few are effectively using the medium.
Verasoni Ah Ha! Insights, a research arm of Verasoni Worldwide, and the business-consulting firm Simon Associates Management Consultants conducted a study of hospitals’ use of Facebook and found the effort to be woefully lacking. The study examined the Facebook activity of 120 hospitals of various sizes and types in 50 states.
Here is a review of some of the findings:
63% had no unsolicited feedback or questions on their pages
Fewer than 40% of hospitals posted daily
Only 5% used the wall to post upcoming events
80% had no discussions on their discussion board pages
58% did not allow members to share photos on their Facebook page
Only 49 hospitals (40%) uploaded video directly onto their Facebook page
92% did not integrate traditional advertising into social media
Most hospitals (86% or 104) did not integrate blogs into their Facebook presence
70% of hospitals had fewer than 1,000 likers/members
Only 10 hospitals integrated Twitter into Facebook
90 hospitals (75%) did not integrate their clinical services into Facebook
It’s apparent hospitals are not using their Facebook pages to engage patients and build relationships. Although Facebook can be a very effective tool to engage patients and enhance its brand it requires attention, creativity and work.
Some hospital marketers don’t understand social media. Some marketers (or their administrators) are afraid of it. And many just do not have the time resources necessary to utilize it effectively.
So it really doesn’t matter if the number Ed Bennett cites continues to rise. That may not be a real indication of the effective adoption of social media. Just to put up a Facebook page or tweet a message or write a blog doesn’t make a hospital successful in social media. It seems many healthcare marketers have established a presence in social media but are not yet committed to tapping its power and potential. Thus they are not passing the real social engagement test.