Hospitals using social media

Hospital Marketing: Relevant Issues Can Be Addressed with Social Media

Hospitals are effectively using social networking sites to provide relevant health information and to engage in an ongoing dialog with consumers.

There was been much talk about the H1N1 virus.  It’s hard to miss it as you read the newspaper or watch TV news or listen to the radio or visit the internet.  But with all the talk, there is still a lot of misinformation.  And consumers certainly have lots of unanswered questions.  How can a hospital address health concerns like the H1N1 virus with factual and relevant information?  Some are effectively turning to social networking sites to connect with consumers and share information. 

Rockford Health System in Rockford, Illinois is one hospital that uses its Facebook page to communicate information and updates about the H1N1 virus.  Not only does the hospital provide pertinent information about the virus, it uses one of it’s doctors to post information about the virus and to answer questions posted on the site.  The doctor answers questions 2-3 times per week.

Katie Nilsson, a reporter with WREX, quotes Rockford Marketing Director Westor Wuori, “There’s so much information out there, we wanted to find a way to distill it down to where people can get it in one central location”. 

This is an excellent example of how hospitals can effectively use social networking sites to be relevant and provide a useful and meaningful service to their community. Consumers have concerns. They want reliable information they can trust.  They want to have a dialog where they can receive answers to specific questions.  Facebook and Twitter are tools that should be utilized by hospitals for such purposes.

Hospitals are expected to be the local source for reliable health information.  Traditionally hospitals have relied upon press releases and the local media to disseminate relevant health information.  But with social media sites, hospitals can provide the information directly to the consumer as well as actually engage in an ongoing dialog.  And by so doing, the hospital enhances it’s brand and builds loyalty and trust.

Using social networking sites to deal with the public’s health concerns is a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.  But even more than that, it’s the right thing to do.  It is one viable means to fulfill the hospital’s mission and its responsibility to the community.   

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Hospital Marketing: Is Social Media for You?

 Social media impacts nearly 40% of hospital or urgent care patients.Social media wordcloud glowing

Out of 5700 hospitals in the US, less than 400 utilize social media, according to statistics collected by EdBennett.  Yet a study conducted by Ad-ology found that social media impacts nearly 40% of hospital or urgent care patients and with more than half of 24-54 year olds saying they are influenced by it.

If the statistics stated above are accurate, there is a great underutilized opportunity available for hospital marketers.  Current and prospective consumers of hospital’s services are engaged in social media.  They are active and involved in various social media options.  They cannot be ignored.  Hospitals must begin to understand how social media is being utilized and join in the fray.  Not in traditional ”sell them what we have” manner, but in forms and strategies consistent with the way social media is used by the consumer.  Targeted online communities should be explored. 

There are conversations going on about your hospital.  In many cases, you should be involved in those conversations.  These interactions can become become a vital and effective marketing endeavor.

Sure, there are lots of unknowns and potential pitfalls.  And there are risks involved.  But strategies should be pursued to engage in the mediums effectively while minimizing the risks. 

The consumer is present in social media venues.  They can be highly targeted.   Hospital marketers should be there too.  We can no longer expect them to come to us.  We must go where they are.

 

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