Healthcare Marketing: 10 Social Media Mistakes

The worst-ever advice about social media

Russell Working wrote an article that appeared in HealthCare Communication News listing the ten worst tips about social media.  That list is here in its entirety.

1. Don’t bother drawing up a social media policy.

E. Blake Jackson, social media coordinator for Chesapeake Energy, once read a blog post by a “guru” which chastised companies with social media policies, saying they don’t get it. “I pray for the legal and human resources departments of his clients,” Jackson writes.

2. Put the intern in charge of social media.

Stephanie Johnson, director of public affairs at Advocate Health Care, says social media is essential, so “you need a team that is invested in staying on top of these changes and adapting new elements that may benefit your audience.”

Don’t pawn it off on the kids.

3. Try this gimmick, and you’ll win a flood of new Twitter followers overnight.

Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, says that “the followers you get organically will likely stay longer.” It’s also terrible advice to follow a whole lot of people on Twitter so that you can get followers in return, he says.

4. Ghost-tweet your CEO.

A word to the wise: Playing sock puppet with the CEO’s Twitter account can create trouble if said CEO doesn’t read the tweets in advance, says Tripp Frohlichstein of MediaMasters.

“This can lead to many problems ranging from views not really shared by the CEO to misinformation being distributed,” he says.

5. Insist that when you retweet without comment, it doesn’t constitute an endorsement.

“If you RT something, the third-party perception is that you agree with it, unless you specifically state otherwise,” says Arthur Yann, the Public Relations Society of America‘s vice president of public relations.

6. Avoid anything personal in your social media presence.

Someone once told Becky Graebe, corporate communications manager at SAS, “Don’t wish someone a happy birthday or tell them you’re excited about attending your child’s graduation if you want them to think of you as professional.”

Not so, she says. Social media lets users get to know one another and form relationships as they would if they lived next door to each other.

7. Automatically incorporate blog posts onto Twitter.

Jenny Leonard, editor of Futurity, notes a push to automatically link blog or newsletter posts to Twitter and Facebook.

“As a colleague once told me, ‘Automation is not social; it’s the opposite of social,'” she says.

8. Wait! Send everything to counsel first to prevent social media disasters.

Philip Ryan Johnson, adjunct professor of PR and social media at Syracuse University, disapproves of those who do this because “we definitely do not want to miss anything important.”

9. Insisting that because Groupon tripled your sales, you should do more such promotions—and offer even deeper discounts.

“Deals increase one-shot sales, and [those occur] among a large group of one-time customers,” Johnson says. “They also discount the actual value of products or services … and [this] has negative effects for the long-term.”

10. If you post it on YouTube, they will come.

The biggest mistake on YouTube “is that people will post a video and expect the magic to happen instantly. You really have to do some promotion of your content and make sure it’s authentic for your audience,” said one communicator who preferred to remain anonymous.

She added that “if you tried to persuade a friend to buy a product, you wouldn’t go ahead and shove the product in their face and say, ‘Hey, you should buy this.’ Then 10 seconds later, ‘No, you really should buy this,’ and talk endlessly about the features and benefits. It has to be genuine, and you have to get people to watch.”

Russell Working is a staff writer for Ragan.com. This story first appeared on PR Daily.

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.