Nancy Siniard

Healthcare Marketing: More Focus on Search, Less on Social

In the rush to do social media, healthcare marketers have neglected what may be more important – SEO.  It’s time to correct that.

180435502Writing for Search Engine Watch, Jay Taylor wrote a very interesting article about today’s emphasis on social media at the expense of search engine marketing.  It was very stimulating and thought provoking.  The article was directed to small and medium sized businesses, but it’s very appropriate for healthcare marketers.  The article is reprinted here but I’ve taken the liberty to make a few changes directing it specifically to hospital and healthcare marketing:

Social media is all the rave, and for good reason.

Fortune 500 companies are showing that social can be a very effective marketing tool, particularly when it comes to brand awareness and engagement.

But how effective is social media when it comes to customer acquisition for hospitals?

Hospitals and healthcare organizations are increasingly placing emphasis on social media marketing as a customer acquisition tool, while placing less emphasis on search marketing. Here are five reasons why this is a mistake, and why hospitals should focus on search, not social when it comes to acquiring patients.

1. Search Gets Hospitals in Front of Prospective Customers Who Aren’t Already Familiar With Their Brand

Unlike Fortune 500 companies, most hospitals don’t have the resources to invest in brand awareness campaigns that can take months or years to pay dividends. New patient acquisition is the primary objective, and search allows hospitals to get in front of prospective customers who aren’t already familiar with their brand, but are in need of their products or services.

While organic search takes time, paid search allows hospitals to get in front of prospective patients immediately with ads that are contextually relevant to their search query. So, even if the prospective customer isn’t familiar with the hospital serving the ad, that’s OK, because that hospital is advertising a solution intended to meet that prospective patient’s immediate needs.

2. Searchers are More Likely to Convert Into Customers

People use social media to, well, socialize. People use search engines when they want to find something.

When was the last time you went on Twitter to look for the nearest hamburger joint? Now, when was the last time you used Google to find a local restaurant?

The fact that searchers are actively searching for the products or services your hospital offers makes them much more likely to become a customer than someone who simply likes your Facebook page. The person who likes your Facebook page may eventually become a customer, but chances are they did not like your page because of their intent to purchase.

3. Search Allows Customers to Easily Find Your Business on the Go

Search engines make it easy to find information such as phone numbers and directions to local businesses on mobile devices. In fact, 88 percent of people who search for local information with a smartphone take action within a day, such as calling or visiting a local business, according to Google.

Additionally, 77 percent of smartphone users use their device for search. So, even if you do not target a local customer base specifically, mobile search provides an excellent opportunity to get in front of prospective customers.

4. Social Media Marketing Isn’t Easy

Some hospitals tend to gravitate to social media because they perceive it as being easy and inexpensive, while perceiving search marketing as just the opposite. However, a well-executed social media campaign is no easy task, particularly if the goal is new patient acquisition.

On the other hand, if a hospitals is using their company’s Twitter page to tweet about how good the cafeteria food was today, then yes, that is easy and inexpensive, and also ineffective.

5. Search is a Proven Customer Acquisition Tool

Whether organic search or paid search, there is little argument that search marketing is an effective customer acquisition tool, and mobile search has only enhanced its effectiveness.

Conversely, there is still much debate regarding the relationship between “likes” and purchase intent, and social media’s effectiveness in general when it comes to customer acquisition. When working with a limited marketing budget, as most hospitals do, it makes sense to utilize a proven patient acquisition method.


The truth is that search and social are not mutually exclusive. The lines are blurring between them.

The most effective digital marketing strategy would utilize both search and social to their maximum potential. Yet, the reality is that most hospitals don’t have the necessary resources to do both effectively. So, when the primary goal is patient acquisition, hospitals should focus on search, not social.

Healthcare Marketing: 5 Social Media Suggestions for Hospitals

111773023Here are 5 excellent suggestions offered by Marianne Aiello in an article for HealthcareLeaders Media.  It’s republished in its entirety.

In 2013 the new millennium officially became a teenager. And like all teenagers, it is seriously addicted to social media. Really, mom and dad should consider limiting its data plan.

Hospitals, however, are still playing catch up in the social media space. There are plenty of excuses, from staffing problems to technical ditziness.  But none is acceptable anymore. MySpace, the granddaddy of social media, was created ten years ago. It’s time the healthcare industry got with it.

 An infographic by Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group highlights just where hospitals stand in the social space. Only 26% use social media. No, that is not a typo—just one-quarter of hospitals in the US use any type of social media. Of those,

  • 84% are on Facebook
  • 64% are on Twitter
  • 46% are on YouTube
  • 12% blog

So that’s where we stand. Now let’s look at healthcare consumers.

About one-third of consumers use social sites for health-related matters. And these patients are sharing their experiences, with 44% of respondents saying they were likely or very likely to share a positive experience they had with a hospital.

More notably, 40% said they were likely or very likely to share a negative experience they had with a hospital.

So like it or not, patients are talking about your organization on social media sites. It’s a hospital marketer’s duty to be there to listen, share successes, and respond to complaints. Let’s take a tip from the newly pimple-faced millennium and get social.

Here are five resolutions all hospital marketers should make for the coming year.

1.    Tell powerful patient stories.

Perhaps the greatest value of social media is the ability to quickly and easily connect with patients. From there, it’s up to the marketer to make this connection meaningful.

Often, the best way to accomplish this is by telling meaningful, powerful patient stories. Luckily for us, these stories already exist out there. We just have to find them. 

To do this, track any keyword or hashtag that relates to your organization. A third party platform such as HootSuite can facilitate this. If you don’t find much, start soliciting  patient stories.

From there, you can share them on Facebook, re-tweet them on Twitter, or write up a blog post, which you can then link to on Facebook and Twitter. In some cases, YouTube may be the best storytelling medium. 

There are countless ways to share positive patient experiences through social media. And the more often you do it, the easier the process will become.

2.    Do something innovative.

Another benefit of social media campaigns versus traditional marketing campaigns is that you can afford to take more risks. 

If a marketing campaign bombs, you’ve wasted money on print materials and advertising space. But, in most cases, if a social media campaign misses the mark you’re only real cost is the time it took to execute it. 

Besides, in social media taking a risk can pay off big.

Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:

  • Live-tweet a surgery to highlight a service line
  • Experiment with fundraising through Facebook
  • Set up a weekly doc Q&A time on Twitter
  • Use social media to attract new physicians and staff
  • Ask a patient to live-tweet a “day in the life” at your organization

Get creative and see what sticks. As a bonus, local press love to cover innovative hospital social marketing efforts.

3.    Take a hard look at risk management. 

Of course, using social media to promote your organization has its risks. As much as people enjoy sharing positive feedback online, they seem to enjoy sharing negative feedback even more. It’s the nature of the beast. But this is absolutely not a reason to avoid social media altogether.

Like I said before, social media is about 10 years old. Most people using social media aren’t new. Therefore, most people using social media know that the anonymity users have on some sites turn people into hate-filled harping conspiracy theorists. 

You can just tell when a commenter has taken a couple crazy pills. Most internet users put everything they read online through a filter and, for marketers, this acts as a barrier of sorts. 

That said, there are some steps you should take to mitigate your social media risk. Make sure that you have a comprehensive social media policy for employees and that the policy is up to date. 

Employees should sign a document stating that they understand they are not to post any patient information or any negative comments about the organization. 

I’m amazed at how often I see a high school classmate post on Facebook about how much they hate their nursing job and mentioning the hospital by name. 

It’s also important to make sure all providers understand where the boundary lies when communicating with patients on social media. While you’re at it, ask physicians if they have a public Twitter account or blog where they postulate about anything healthcare related. 

Doctors  represent your organization, so it’s critical to know what they’re putting out there. Social media savvy docs can also be great allies when formulating a new campaign

4.    Keep an eye on your peers.

The healthcare industry as a whole is behind the curve, but many hospitals are true social media standouts. Keep an eye on these organizations to see how they launch campaigns, respond to criticism, and deal with employees. 

The Mayo Clinic tops the list of social media trailblazers and provides helpful information to other organizations through its Center for Social Media.

 UPMC is also a top organization to go to for social media tips, especially it’s well maintained Facebook page.

And if you’re looking for Twitter inspiration, check out Brigham and Women’s account. They tweet a variety of posts on anything from health topics to hospital rankings to volunteer opportunities.

5.    Track everything.

None of this counts if you can’t view the statistics that tell you which efforts are working, which fell flat, which are tapering off, and which have found a second life. Keep count of your followers and likes, of how many people clicked your links, of how long visitors stayed on that blog post. 

This information will help you better tailor future social campaigns and give you solid numbers to report to your superiors.

With these five resolutions, hospital marketers should be able to commit to having a strong presence in the social media world now and for years to come—or at least until the millennium gets its braces off.




Hospital Advertising: Are Banner Ads Really Effective?

Perhaps banner ads have become so ubiquitous they are ineffective. They certainly aren’t very creative.

155425841Web banner ads have been around for 18 years and are the standard for web advertising.  As all other marketers, healthcare marketers have used them to create a web presence for their hospitals.  But are they effective?

Surely we can all agree they are mostly devoid of creativity.  And space limitations prohibit providing very much brand information.  And the scary thing is that some research indicates they are mostly ignored.

Digiday published some rather alarming facts about online advertising.  Here are some of them:

1.  Over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users last year. (ComScore)

2.  That’s 1 trillion more than 2009. (ComScore)

3.  The typical Internet user is served 1,707 banner ads per month. (Comscore)

4.  Click-through rates are .1 percent. (DoubleClick)

5.  The 468 x 60 banner has a .04 percent click rate. (DoubleClick)

6.  An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)

7.  8 percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)

8.  Up to 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)

9.   Mobile CPMs are 75 cents. (Kleiner Perkins)

10. You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)

11. 15 percent of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat, compared to 29 percent for TV ads. (eMarketer)

12. 34 percent don’t trust banner ads at all or much, compared to 26 percent for magazine ads. (eMarketer)

13. 25-34-year olds see 2,094 banner ads per month. (ComScore)

14. 445 different advertisers delivered more than a billion banner ads in 2012. (ComScore)

These are startling statistics.  I would not go so far as saying banner ads have no value for hospitals.  Simple brand awareness and brand recall are valuable.  But we should be aware of the limitations of web banner advertising and invest your hospital’s media dollars accordingly.

Healthcare Marketing: When “Big Data” is Not So Big

All the consumer information that is available to us cannot take the place of the “Big Idea.”

Big data in HealthcareBig data is the BIG deal these days.   Big data is the term used for the tremendous amount of information available through the monitoring of consumers as they search online, purchase online, pay for products and services with credit cards and provide information at the point of purchase.  The amount of data is almost endless and marketers are accessing it to understand when and how to market to their target audience.

Healthcare marketing is no exception.  Even with the HIPPA restrictions, the amount of data available from our own patients, data collected from health agencies and data that can be purchased from third parties, there is a plethora of information now at the fingertips of healthcare marketers.  And there are companies that can help us mine and manage that data.  So indeed it is the “big data” because it helps us market to a specific audience and then measure just about anything to determine effectiveness, rate of response and even ROI.

I’m certainly in favor of as much information as possible.  The more data the more precise and on-target healthcare marketing can be.  I’m indeed interested in determining ROI of healthcare marketing expenditures.  But, and that is a big BUT, we can become so enamored and focused on the big data that we sacrifice the “big idea.”  Data without a strategic concept and execution is just big data.  In marketing, it’s still about the big idea.  The concept that resonates with the consumer.  The idea that creates, builds and enhances a brand.  The idea and execution that builds an affinity with the brand and creates long-term loyalty.  Too much of big data marketing is about acquiring an instant sale and realizing a measurable and acceptable ROI.  But it fails to create a brand identity and brand value.

It’s akin to retail stores putting their entire effort into sales promotion because it creates instant results and a measurable ROI with little regard for the brand.  And as result, they are only as good or successful as their next sale.  A very short sided view of marketing because it creates no brand loyalty.   The same is true in healthcare marketing.  To rely too heavily on big data, you are only as good as your ability to mine data, interpret it and use it to direct market to a niche.  You’re only as good as your next targeted mailing.

It is said Steve Jobs never paid much interest to market research but rather built one of the strongest brands on earth based on his gut and his own creativity and the creativity of his agency.  I would not suggest all healthcare marketers should go that route but it does make the point that there should be balance between big data and the big idea.

Big data can help us understand the marketplace and our current and prospective customers but it’s the big idea that plant and positions our brand in their minds so they know us, like us, want to do business with us and become loyal to us.

It’s not “Big Data” versus the “Big Idea.”  It’s how we can use both to effectively market our healthcare organization.  It’s how we can find a balance of the two to create responses to our targeted messages but also build a strong and enduring brand.

Tools for Monitoring What’s Being Said About Your Hospital

104762790Use monitoring tools to know what people are saying about your hospital and respond appropriately.

People are most likely talking about your hospital.  Conversations are occurring about your brand.  Do you know what they are saying?  You should.  Some marketers had rather not know.  They prefer to stick their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist.  This is neither good nor responsible.  Conversations about your hospital are happening and you should know what they are.

Sarah Johnson in an article for intuit mentioned three important and instructive points about knowing what people are saying about your hospital.

1.    Set up alerts and conduct regular web searches.

At the very least, set up Google Alerts for the name of your hospital or healthcare organization  (put quotation marks around any proper names to get the most accurate result).  In addition use tools on social media sites to search those particular sites.  With these two, you will receive notices of mentions of your hospital on the web and on the social media sites you monitor.

2.    Invest in a monitoring tool.

The alerts and searches mentioned above are not totally effective.  Mentions often escape their filters so it’s recommended to invest in a monitoring tool that does a far better job than Google Alert.  The good monitoring services will monitor and report mentions of your hospital across the entire web and across all public sections of social media sites.  Some to consider include Social Comply, Trackur and Radian6.

3.    Make people feel they’re being heard.

It’s important your hospital is perceived as responsive and caring.  Respond to issues that appear and to disgruntled consumers.  Take the disgruntled person offline, express your concern and offer to make it right, if possible.  If not, assure the complainant that you will do as much as possible to insure the perceived wrong is not repeated.

It may be important to also make a conciliatory statement in the same venue to show your hospital has a heart and a concern about any dissatisfaction and state that steps will be taken to correct any issues.

It is also important to show appreciation.  When good things are stated, acknowledge it and be appreciative.

People are talking about your hospital.   And as a brand advocate for your hospital you need to know about those conversations.  Monitor, listen, learn and be proactive.  Your hospital’s brand reputation may depend on it.



Healthcare Marketing: Forget the Tech and Focus on the Idea

160353810Consumers aren’t moved by all the data we can use to find and use to communicate with them.  Instead they still want to be moved. They want emotional connection.

This blog  was actually borrowed from comments made by Procter & Gamble Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard as he spoke to the 4As annual conference.  I used it because I think he’s onto something.

More and more we are being driven by data.  We have so much at our disposal.  No wonder it’s referred to a “Big Data.”  And marketing professionals, including those in healthcare, are making decisions and developing marketing plans based on the data.  But too many times I’m afraid that leads to creative that is mediocre at best.  We run the risk of being devoid of the big idea that connects rationally and emotionally with the consumer.

Data can help avoid risk or help improve our odds.  Data can provide insight or sometimes confusion.  But data doesn’t tell you to put an actor around a group of kids and interview them (AT&T), or develop a campaign around the line “The man your man could smell like” (Old Spice).  Procter and Gamble’s “Moms have the best Jobs” television spot was not inspired by data.  And neither was “Just Do It,” “Got Milk,” “Think Differently,” or “Think Small.”

Consumers are moved by emotions.  Brands connect with consumers with emotionAnd that’s no truer than in healthcare marketing. In a world where we have so many ways and so much power to connect with consumers we cannot just pour our message into as many channels as possible.  That’s just noise.  It’s the power of an idea that separates you from the numbness.

Christoph Becker, writing for Adweek put it very well when he stated, “For an idea to have value in the world of marketing communications it must make you feel; it should provoke laughter, touch a nerve and create excitement for a brand. There should be generosity of spirit in what we do. Even if we have messages for the head, we should always seek to gain entry through the heart. To be humanly relevant our work should be founded on emotion.

He continued, “the challenge is to remember this truth: our laughing, crying, loving, loathing, silly, serious emotional minds are always in charge. This is something the most successful—and iconic—businesses understand instinctively.”

As healthcare marketers we have so much information at our disposal.  And we should use it to sharpen our focus and hone our efforts.  Yet never forsaking the pursuit of that emotional connection that far exceeds ordinary communication with consumers.

I will conclude with Becker’s final comments,

“There has never been a better time to reach our customers, but we have a choice. We can use all the technology and channels at our disposal merely to amplify our messages to the point of noise. Or we can use those gifts to give life and purpose and never-ending expansiveness to our ideas, to reach people in ways that matter, to ignite emotions.  That’s my dream.”


Healthcare Marketing: A Picture Really is Worth a Thousand Words

Hospital Digital ImageToday’s culture is extremely visually oriented.  So hospital brands should have a visual story.

Today people are stimulated by visuals.  This is not to discredit or minimize great copywriting but our world has become visually oriented.  Practically everyone has a camera phone and most people are using them.  And sharing their photos.  It can certainly be seen in the rapid rise of photo-centric social platforms.  To prove the point, Facebook reached 100 million users in 4 years but it took Instagram only 10 days to attract 10 million users.

And science supports this premise.  Humans actually process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.  Our visual sensory abilities are powerful.

And we know visuals can affect us emotionally.  How many photographs have you seen that immediately elicits a strong emotional reaction?  Immediately.

So what is your hospital doing to tap into this image-obsessed culture?  Does you hospital have a visual story?  It would be advantageous for your hospital to communicate with your audience through imagery.  Consumers not only want to hear what your brand stands for but they also want to see it.

Social media provides the perfect medium to create and maintain a visual brand story for your hospital.  Writing for The Agency Post,  Megan O’Malley, an account planner at VMI states, “… it’s the thoughtful, sincere and consistent visual story dispersed socially that builds a relationship.”

There are three important factors to consider when creating a visual brand story for your hospital.

1.    Understand your brand

What makes your hospital unique?  And as O’Malley suggests, don’t ask: What does your hospital do?  But go deeper and ask: Why do you exist?  Why should the consumer care?  What is your higher purpose?  From this information you should be on tract to begin create the visual story of your hospital.

2.     Be consistent

Your hospital’s story is ever evolving and never-ending.  So should be your visual story.  You must be consistent in continually telling your story.  Gaps, holes and interruptions cause the consumer to lose interest and the continuity of the story.

3.     Do it well

You are writing a visual story about your hospital.  And just like a written story it should be done well.  You wouldn’t tolerate bad grammar poor sentence structure and sloppy writing if it were a written story.  Neither should you accept poor quality for your visual story.  It’s your hospital’s brand that you are portraying.  It should be done well.

Consumers are becoming more and more visually oriented.  Your hospital’s brand cannot reach it’s full potential without the use of visuals.  It’s not easy.  But there are huge payoffs for those hospitals that do it well.

Healthcare Marketing: 9 Ways Social Media is Impacting Business of Healthcare

Hospitals that understand this impact and leverage them within their organizations will be better positioned to meet the needs of today’s consumers

healthcare and social mediaMichelle McNickle, writing for Healthcare Finance News, referenced a report by the Health Research Institute at PwC US in outlining the impact of social media on the healthcare industry.  The information contained it the article is very useful for healthcare marketers.  The article is reprinted here:

According to a recent report by the Health Research Institute at PwC US, nine distinct uses of social media are helping companies to have an impact on the healthcare business, and to take a more active and engaged role in managing individuals’ health.

“Organizations should coordinate internally to effectively integrate information from the social media space and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways that provide value and increase trust,” the report read. “Insights from social media also offer instant feedback on products or services, along with new ideas for innovation. Organizations that can incorporate this information into their operations will be better positioned to meet the needs of today’s consumers.”

The report outlined nine additional ways social media is impacting the business side of healthcare.

1. Communication is shifting to public, more open forums. Which means less money spent on mailings, websites, and other marketing initiatives. According to the report, four characteristics of social media have altered the nature of interactions among people and organizations: user-generated content, community, rapid distribution, and open, two-way dialogue. “In the past, a company would connect with its customers via mail or a website, but today’s dialogue has shifted to open, public forums that reach many more individuals,” read the report. “Early adopters of social media in the health sector are not waiting for customers to come to them.” Ed Bennett, who oversees social media efforts at the University of Maryland Medical Center, agreed. “If you want to connect with people and be part of their community, you need to go where the community is,” he said. “You need to be connecting before you are actually needed.”

2. Patients (or consumers) are taking a more active role in their healthcare. Social media presents new opportunities for how individuals manage their health, the report noted, whether researching a certain illness or joining a support group. “The virtual aspect of social media enhances communications by creating a comfortable, often anonymous, environment for engaging and exchanging information.” In addition, patients are using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube to better educate themselves. When faced with an important health decision, the report read, social media can provide a new avenue of information and dialogue. “Some may share a health goal to generate support or engage in a patient community to interact with other patients,” it read.

3. Increased access to information means patients are demanding more transparency.  Laura Clapper, MD, CMO of the online community OneRecovery, compared healthcare’s use of social media with that of a bank’s. “As more people go online to interact with their banks and make purchases, they want to do this with their doctors, health plans, and condition and disease management as well,” she said. According to the report, many industry insiders referenced social media site PatientsLikeMe, an eight-year-old health data-sharing platform, as an example of how more than 140,000 patients are connecting with each other. “Social networks will peel back every corner of the health system and drive transparency on cost, value, and outcomes,” said Jamie Heywood, co-founder and chairman of PatientsLikeMe. “The information asymmetry that patients experience will be leveled, allowing the average patient to evaluate and improve his or her conditions, as well as the system’s performance.”

4. More instant feedback can help both consumers and organizations. With patients more actively taking to social media to express opinions, grievances, and experiences, they expect faster response times from organizations, the report read. “Truly social brands will listen to what customers are saying and feeling and use that insight to adapt and create products and services,” said Kelly Colbert, director of strategic advertising at insurer WellPoint. In addition to improving services and creating products to better meet the needs of patients, social media has taken on a more practical approach to basic, day-to-day operations within an organization. For example, according to the report, 49 percent of those polled expect to hear from their doctor when requesting an appointment or follow-up via social media within a few hours.

5. Social information is impacting how and when patients select treatment and providers. It’s no secret consumers are increasingly turning toward social media to make healthcare-related decisions, like what physician to see and when to seek a second opinion. For example, according to the report, 40 percent of those polled said information found in social media would affect the way they coped with a chronic condition, their approach to diet and exercise, and their selection of a specific doctor. “Across the health industry, consumers seem to value information and services that will help them make their healthcare easier to manage,” the report read.

6. Social media allows for higher levels of trust. According to the report, consumer survey respondents said they would be most likely to trust information posted via social media (from doctors, hospitals, etc.) and, they’d be most likely to share information with providers via social media. The reason individuals trust their doctors the most? Human relationships, the report detailed. “You want to trust and connect with the people providing you the care,” said Kathryn Armstrong, senior producer of web communications at Lehigh Valley Health Network. “It’s easier to trust a person than an organization.” Healthcare providers have the ability to form human relationships and connect with their patients, the report added, which ultimately leads to increased trust.

7. Social media is evolving from a marketing tool into a business strategy. Although 82 percent of respondents said their social media efforts are managed by their marketing department, the report showcased how social media’s use is extending into customer service, innovation, and service/product development. “As people go through life events and their health journey, they have changing interests in health,” said Ann Sherry, senior director of Kaiser Permanente’s Internet services. “They want and need different tools and different interactions.” Having a social media strategy isn’t’ enough, she added. “It’s about social strategy.”

8. Providers can use social media as an outcomes-based measurement. The industry is shifting toward outcomes-based measurement, due in part to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, like Medicare’s Value-Based Purchasing and accountable care, read the report. “Social media can offer a unique mechanism for collaborating with other organizations/partners to coordinate care,” it read. The report advised using social media to support meaningful use efforts, all while defining a digital strategy and clear usage guidelines. “A hospital’s or physician’s first encounter with a patient is often through its online presence,” it read. “Providers should take advantage of the trust consumers have for them over other health companies.”

9. Health insurers can use social media to help focus on population health. According to the report, health insurers understand that focusing on the individual population will be key, as more partnerships in population health are formed and insurance exchanges bring in 12 million newly insured individuals in 2014, and up to 28 million by 2019. By casting your company as a “patient advocate,” it continued, you’ll get a jump start on understanding the needs of potential members and determining which needs can be met through social media. Additionally, it noted, organizations should begin to determine an approach to data aggregation and understanding the direct and indirect benefits of social media.

Healthcare Marketing: What is Your Color?

Color impacts what consumers think and how they respond to your brand.

What color is your hospitalThe science of color has always been fascinating to me.  How people respond to certain colors and how different colors make them feel.  Not only is it interesting, it can also affect how people feel about your brand and even how they respond to your brand.  Different colors evoke different emotions and feelings. And different colors get different levels of attention.

As healthcare marketers, it’s important to know the science of color.  What colors are associated with health and wellness?  What colors are more likely to affect the response we are tying to obtain?  Yeah I know, yet another thing healthcare marketers must know and understand.  But we need every edge or advantage we can get.  Understanding the psychology of the consumer’s mind is one thing healthcare marketers should study and understand as much as possible.  And the science of color is part of that psychology. 

Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, wrote an article for Fast Company, Why Is Facebook Blue?  The Science Behind Colors In Marketing. It’s interesting, informative and entertaining.  The link to the article is below.  I think you will enjoy the read.

Healthcare Marketing: 7 Rules for Hospital Crisis Management

At some point your hospital will face a crisis.  Follow these tips to successfully navigate the situation.

Hospital Crisis Management

Every organization faces a crisis of some sort from time to time.  Social media has certainly increased the likelihood of a problem becoming a crisis.   There are now so many venues where news of the crisis can be spread and an abundant number of ways consumers can weigh-in on the crisis.

Deborah Budd, writing for Second Wind  provided some very valuable insight into crisis management that is worthwhile to share.

When your hospital faces a crisis, here are seven rules to follow:

1.    Don’t hesitate

It’s foolish to think the crisis will go away.  Most of the time it won’t.  The internet and social media almost guarantee it won’t unless responded. Get in front t of the situation as much as possible. Acknowledge the situation and state that you are looking into it and will be back with more information when it’s available.  This establishes you as a source for information rather than a target.

2.    Stick to the plan

It’s not easy but there can be a good result. Any crisis is uncomfortable and tense.  But handled well it can increase stakeholder loyalty and enhance your hospital’s brand.  Stick to the communications plan and see it through.

3.    Silence is a loud message

Any information void will be filled with something.  And usually it’s not good.  The negative press and social media comments will become worse until you provide a reasoned and rational response

4.    Respect those affected

Always acknowledge and respect those adversely affected.  People want to know your hospital is acting to correct the problem that has occurred.

5.    Don’t use data or facts to minimize the situation

Facts and data are only useful as much as they align with the concerns created by the crisis.   Focus on those affected and use data as background.

6.    Never ignore inquiries

“No comment” usually creates the perception of guilt.   It’s much better to respond with “I don’t have answer but I’ll get back with you as soon as I do” or “here’s how we’re handling things now.”  Never refuse to answer.

7.    Never lie and don’t hide the negative stuff

In the end, integrity is the most important thing.  Hiding the truth or not owning up to it will make matters worse.   You earn credibility by being honest and sincere.

The day will come when your hospital is faced with a crisis.  How you handle it will determine how your band is perceived.  Handled appropriately and professionally will go a long way toward minimizing the crisis and making your brand even stronger.