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Hospital social media: Less may be more

June 6th, 2012

by Jenn Riggle

In today's super-sized world, people seem to think that bigger is better. However, when it comes to healthcare marketing, less can be more. People today are multi-taskers, who have a hard time reading a blog, let alone "War and Peace." We're all looking for ways to get smarter faster, and do more with less.

Here are some things to think about:

  • You can have too much of a good thing--even Facebook pages: Everyone seems to love Facebook, so why shouldn't your hospital have seven or eight Facebook pages? After all, you can have one for each hospital in your system or each service line. While this may make sense at first, the danger is that you'll end up building the brand for the local hospital or the service line at the expense of the larger system. In addition, having multiple Facebook pages can make management unwieldy and result in static pages or the same information being posted on multiple pages.

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  • Take another look at Facebook tabs: Rather than creating multiple Facebook pages, consider creating custom tabs for them on your Facebook page. Andrew Pitre wrote s great post on HubSpot explaining how to create custom tabs with the new page design. The benefit is that you're driving people to one Facebook page to build critical mass, rather than dispersing them to multiple sites.
  • Sometimes you can have too many friends: On Facebook, it can become a numbers game, with the focus being on acquiring friends and fans rather than focusing on engagement. The bigger question is: If people only come to your page once or twice and don't make comments or click on your links, are they really your friends? The same holds true for personal Facebook pages. Take a look at your Facebook friends and you may find that you're sharing personal stories with a bunch of people you don't know. There was even a study showing that having 354 Facebook friends seemed to be the tipping point after which people were increasingly less happy with their lives. Who knew?
  • It's better to be good at a few things vs. being a master of none: The same holds true with social media. Organizations often feel that they need to bite off the whole enchilada when it comes to social media, i.e. maintain a blog, Facebook page(s), Twitter account, mobile app, Pinterest account, YouTube channel, etc. Unfortunately, many organizations don't have the staff to populate and maintain multiple social media channels. Instead, they're better off concentrating on one or two key networks and really owning them.
  • You can post too many times a day: Back in the day, RUN-D.M.C. sang, "You talk too much and you never shut up." Well, the same thing can happen with social media. Organizations often believe posting is the key to engagement. However, the reverse may be true. Many organizations post updates 10, 15, even 20 times a week, but in the end, those posts can wind up being a lot of noise. A good rule of thumb is to post a couple of times a day, five days a week. And if you don't have anything important to say, don't say anything at all.
  • Why create when you can recycle?: Organizations struggle with creating content, often resorting to posting health facts and health tips--and sounding like every other hospital and health system. Instead, they should look for ways to reuse content they've already created. For example, they can take excerpts of articles written by staff members to write blog posts, create tweets, etc. Or if they've developed a brand video, they can edit it to make shorter video clips, which can be posted on their website and YouTube, as well as sent out via social media channels. People may not want to watch a 5-minute video, but they'd be happy to watch a short video clip about a specific topic.

Take a critical look at your social media efforts. You'll be surprised that you can use social media to work smarter, not harder.

Jenn Riggle is a vice president at Weber Shandwick Worldwide and member of itshealthcare practice.

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