This is another in the Recently Asked Questions series. I’m glad to answer these via email (and have answered directly in this case), but by de-identifying the person asking the question (to protect confidentiality) and also answering in public I hope to provide a resource for others who may have similar questions. More importantly, it opens the process so if other SMUGgles have tips to share, we all can learn from each other.
So here’s today’s question from “Pat” (not his or her real name):
Hi Lee — I am the Manager, E-Strategy, at ________. While admittedly late to the party, we are preparing to launch an official presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. But first, I have the pleasant task of selling our CEO and other senior leaders on the concept and benefits of social media. Do you have any resources/advice about how best to gain leadership buy-in? I’m not anticipating that it’s going to be a tough sell, but if there are any proven methods/pitfalls to avoid, I’d love to learn.
My presentations last week (embedded here and here) offer some basic guidance. I’d invite you to check them out. In essence, start by using social media tools to improve the efficiency of what you’re already doing (e.g. shooting Flip video for news releases and posting that to your Facebook site and YouTube channel…or just using the video to record your interviews and thereby do a better job of writing your old-fashioned text-based news releases). Use low-cost or no-cost tools so the out-of-pocket cost is negligible. Then when you get success at almost no cost you can build on that to extend into further applications.
If word-of-mouth plays any role at all in patients’ decisions to use your facilities (and it surely does), then social media will be a powerful means of spreading that word. You will be able to tell stories and describe treatments and services in much more detail than you could through mainstream media. And if you are spending anything on paid advertising, you can pay for your social media programs by channeling a tiny fraction of that budget.
At Mayo Clinic we have been able to use social media tools to help tell stories, which has led to significant news coverage in the mainstream media, such as this story in yesterday’s Des Moines Register. And sometimes, as in this story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, we’ve had news stories about our social media efforts.
I’d also recommend you refer to Ed Bennett’s listing of other hospitals using social media to show your leadership that many others have begun using social media tools.
Finally, I wouldn’t exactly say you’re “late to the party.” I think there are something like 5,000 hospitals in the U.S., and Ed’s list has 250 using social media. You will still be on the earlier side of the adoption curve, and should be able to move relatively quickly since there are some examples of others to emulate and build upon.
How about the rest of you? What advice could you offer “Pat” in selling social media to hospital leadership?