social media mistakes

Healthcare Marketing: Five More Social Media Mistakes

Social media mistakes damage reputations and brands.  Learn from the mistakes of others.

Although not specifically directed to healthcare and hospital marketers, an article written by A.J Ghergich, CEO of Authority Domains, and appearing in SmartBlogs from SmartBrief offers some very helpful comments about mistakes brands involved in social media should avoid.  The article is repeated here in its entirety.

Imagine you built up a vast social media following — but because of one small oversight, your reputation started to crumble right before your eyes. Sadly, this scenario is not that farfetched, because some businesses leap into the social media arena without understanding how to maintain a relationship with their customers while avoiding some obvious pitfalls.

By studying some mistakes by other companies that have resulted in negative exposure, you can learn how your business can avoid a similar fate. Here are five easy-to-avoid mistakes.

  • Being crass about current events. Last year, designer Kenneth Cole used the publicity of an international crisis in Cairo to post about his products. He even used the hashtag #Cairo to try to build buzz and reach others who were searching for tweets on the crisis. The reaction was so strong that you won’t find Kenneth Cole’s old Twitter account anymore. It has been replaced. Reacting to current events can be plus for your brand, but consider how some people might react if it looks like you’re trying to capitalize on a very serious situation. Be respectful and tread lightly when talking about current events. Take a minute to put yourself in another person’s shoes and ask how your post could be perceived. It’s possible that if Kenneth Cole had taken a few extra minutes to think through his tweet, he may have decided not to publish it.
  • Getting too personal. Be careful when posting personal content, whether or not you feel it is valuable. Your customers consider your social accounts the face of your brand. Bob Parsons, Go Daddy founder, posted a video of his trip to Zimbabwe on his blog. In the video, Parsons told the audience how he kills elephants because they damage crops, which endangers the lives of the starving locals. After Parsons published the video, the media outlets ran with the story, and some customers boycotted Go Daddy and its services. Though Parsons explained the story in more detail, the damage had already been done. Regardless of whether Parsons was doing a good deed, this type of personal content is not appropriate for customers. Occasional personal content is effective for creating connections with your customers, but keep it light and don’t antagonize people.
  • Being spammy. Resist the temptation to capitalize on the popularity of another company to promote your products. Habitat UK tried to take advantage of the trending topics #Apple, #iPhone and others to acquire some traffic. Unfortunately, the strategy backfired because the tweets had nothing to do with Apple computers or any of its products. Tweeters posted negative messages to Habitat UK’s account, complaining about its “spammy” behavior. Your customers are not stupid. They know when you are trying to manipulate the system. Stay genuine, and don’t piggyback on other companies’ successes. It will only make you look desperate.
  • Putting your account in the wrong hands. The people who tweet or posts on your company’s behalf have the fate of your company’s image in their hands. What they post could potentially damage your reputation. Invest enough resources into finding the right people who will put their opinions aside and prioritize the integrity of your company. Ensure your social media managers understand the essence of your company culture and how you want your brand portrayed.
  • Pretending your mistake didn’t happen. If you ever make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. Your customers will respect you for admitting your mistakes and you can save your brand from any negative backlash. People forgive transparent mistakes much more than they excuse complete denial.

Like all marketers, those in healthcare would be wise to learn from the types of mistakes mentioned and not repeat them.

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: 10 Steps to Survive a Social Media Blunder

Social media snafus happen.  It’s what you do when they happen that matters.

You read about them almost everyday.  Somebody makes a mistake and posts something that’s inappropriate or is potentially damaging to the brand.  From the Red Cross, Chrysler and Southwest Airlines companies face uncomfortable situations.  Some handle it well and some don’t.  More damaging than the original blunder is when a company doesn’t address the issue or doesn’t handle it well.

Michelle Ponto with News10 in Sacramento  wrote a story quoting Josh Morgan of Edelman Digital  and Lori Bertelli of Augustine Ideas about steps to take to help minimize the damage if you are faced with a social media nightmare.  The steps are very applicable to healthcare marketers who face such critical issues.

1. Before you say anything on social media, take into account everyone who could be in your audience, not just the people you know for sure are in your audience. Remember, not everybody thinks exactly the same way you do.

2. Before you open up any type of social media forum, have a policy in place that lets people know that certain types of speech aren’t going to be tolerated and that the platform is being moderated.

3. If you find yourself getting emotionally involved in something online, take a step back. Don’t let commentators get you riled up as you could end up saying something that you regret.

4. Think about who is doing your social media postings. An intern may be comfortable using Facebook and Twitter, but are they the right person to be representing your brand online? It is easier to teach someone who knows your brand/business about social media than it is to teach someone who only knows social media about your company.

5. Set up multiple administrators on all social media accounts just in case you can’t get in touch with someone when you need to – or they leave the company.

6. Make it easy to do the right thing when you are setting up your policies.

7. Own a mistake and do it quickly. Don’t try to hide from it. It’s not going away.

8. Have a friend or an editor check things out. It might seem funny to you, but it may not be to everyone.

9. Understand that you can’t control social media. Instead, be ready to react and take ownership when something does happen.

10. Don’t be insulting or come off defensive. All it takes is one bad post to create a social media nightmare.

Very sound advice.  Advice that could be very helpful if your hospital or healthcare organization faces social media missteps.

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Healthcare Marketing: Social Media Screw-Ups

In just seven short years there have been social media missteps that show the power and risks of social networking.

In a little over six years Facebook has gathered 500 million members.  Over 14 billion videos are watched on YouTube each day.   And Twitter has more than 165 million users.  There has been so much attention given to the strengths and advantages of using social media as a marketing tool. But there are also considerable risks as social networking has shifted power to the consumer.

While there have been great success stories for companies who have used social media, at the same time there have been major headaches and embarrassments to companies who have been victimized by either consumer advocacy or their own mistakes. Matthew Yeomans, a co-founder of Custom Communication created “A Short History of Social Media Screw-Ups”.  The presentation is a walk down a short memory lane and shows us some of the pitfalls and dangers of  “social media”.  As health care marketers, we should learn from the mistakes of others and commit to not repeating the same mistakes.

Watch the presentation here: http://www.slideshare.net/socialmediainfluence/social-media-screw-ups.

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