Smart Advice From Health Care Professionals Using Social Media
By: Nikki Little
Social Media Club Detroit hosted an event on February 29 with health care professionals who discussed how they are successfully using social media (disclosure: I’m secretary of SMCD and helped to organize this event). The panelists included:
- Julian Bond – social media/marketing manager at the Detroit Medical Center
- Shannon Paul – manager, social media/external affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
- Joseph Wesolek – Web content manager at Beaumont Health System
- Russell Faust, PhD, MD – Creator, “Ask The Boogor Doctor” blog and chief, Pediatric Otolaryngology at St. John Health System
- Andrea Pecoraro (moderator) – public relations and marketing coordinator at Kresge Eye Institute
While the health care industry as a whole has been slow to adopt the use of social media, these professionals provided examples and stats that proved they are successfully incorporating social media into their businesses.
Even if you don’t work at a company or with clients who are in the health care industry, you can still apply some of the takeaways the panelists shared to your own social media efforts. Here are some of the great nuggets of wisdom from the event:
- Some easy wins to generate traffic/buzz include using Instagram to share photos and tell stories related to your business/industry that haven’t been told yet. Also, create videos with multiple purposes. – Joe W.
- If people are frequently coming to you misinformed about something related to your industry, use a blog to educate people. Dr. Faust has been able to streamline his clinic flow and see more patients who are well informed thanks to the valuable information he shares through his blog.
- Make medicine and other “boring” topics fun and entertaining through creative initiatives. Julian and his DMC team live tweeted a surgery and used video and photos to support the Movember movement to raise awareness and donations for prostate cancer.
- You can have a sound strategy, but if you don’t get how the channels work, it falls apart with the tactics. – Shannon P.
- Some of the simplest posts can generate great user interaction (Beaumont posted on Facebook that the hospital won an award for emergency care, and it generated great response). Also, experiment with Facebook apps. – Joe W.
- Make internal expertise social. The people within your organization have plenty of valuable information to share. Find a way to translate that knowledge into the social world. – Shannon P.
- Create an Intranet with guidelines and request submission capabilities so employees know how to interact with the company online and can submit content ideas. – Joe W.
- According to Dr. Faust, 80 percent of people find health care information in the digital world, so physicians have an obligation to provide that information. My added commentary – think about this for your industry. Do you know how many of your current and potential customers are using the online world to find and share information (my guess is WAY more than you realize). If you don’t know, find out…ASAP. And if your current or potential customers are active online, then it’s not too late for you to start using social media for business purposes.
- Use social media to boost employee morale. Julian is working hard to fix this, but social media sites are currently blocked at the DMC (not to harp on you Julian, but Shel Holtz explains here why blocking Internet access at work is a bad idea). Julian got employees excited about social media by inviting them to participate in his Do the ICU-2 video about hand washing and hand sanitizing.
- When you’re hosting press conferences, always invite traditional media, but also invite bloggers or people from your local social media community who are interested in or cover similar news. – Shannon P.
- Build relationships with people through social media before they need something. Most people don’t need to connect with an insurance company unless something is wrong. Build a strong and positive relationship first. Hopefully, they’ll remember that if/when something does go wrong. – Shannon P.
- Use social media to garner traditional media coverage. Shannon and her team did this by organizing a flash mob at an event BCBSM sponsored. Julian and his team created videos telling the story of a paralyzed bride training at one of the DMC’s rehabilitation centers to walk down the aisle at her wedding with a series entitled Walk For Love. Both initiatives generated positive broadcast coverage.
Do you work in the health care industry and use social media? If so, share what you’re doing with social in the comments.