Social Technologies in Health Care – Part IV

In Part III of this series, I offered a recommendation for health care associations with regard to Twitter:

Create a Twitter account for your association, if only for defensive purposes. Use Twitterfeed to automatically tweet. 

I think that was fine, as far as it went, and I think it is an essential step. But in the last two months I have seen immense potential for beneficial engagement by actively becoming involved with Twitter at the organizational level. It needs to be more than just a defensive measure.

I see Twitter being valuable not just for communication with members, but also for outreach to people who share your organization’s goals but may not yet be members. I believe it’s really worth your time to understand it, and to that end recommend the SMUG Twitter curriculum (or for an overview, going through the #tweetcamp2 course, for which the slides and accompanying videos from the Webcast archive  are embedded below.)

Social Technologies in Health Care – Part III

Note: This is the third in a series of posts based on material I provided in advance for  a two-part panel in March sponsored by ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, “Social Technologies in Healthcare: Applications, Implications and What’s Next?

Question Three: How should medical associations/societies capitalize on social technologies in their work?

Societies and their members should get hands-on experience with social tools so they can see for themselves what the most productive uses would be. If they are concerned about HIPAA or patient privacy concerns, start by using the tools within your organization, apart from any direct patient-care application.

With that appropriate disclaimer, I’’ll offer a few practical steps to help you get started, and while step 5 may be most important I put it last so that you don’’t get so hung up in strategy that you don’’t do anything.

  1. Use the tools to help run the associations and as an added member benefit. Build outposts on the general-purpose social networking sites, particularly Facebook.
  2. Create a YouTube channel. Feature your members. Encourage them to create YouTube channels. Subscribe to each other’s’ channels and become “friends.” “Favorite” each other’s’ videos.
  3. Create a Twitter account for your association, if only for defensive purposes. Use Twitterfeed to automatically tweet. 
  4. Create one or more blogs. You’’ve got a Web site, right? That’s all a blog is: an easy-to-publish Web site that allows comments, interaction and sharing. You can make your blogs part of your site, or you can have your blog become your site.
  5. Think about how you will tie them all together into a coherent strategy. But don’t let yourself become paralyzed, waiting until you have the perfect strategy before you execute anything. You’ll learn as you go, and these tools are highly reconfigurable. But it’s a lot easier to modify your direction if you’re already moving than it is to get going from a dead stop. So start.

It won’t surprise SMUGgles that I advised diving in and getting hands-on experience. While not necessarily disagreeing, Frank Fortin, one of my fellow panelists, highly commended the POST method as outlined by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff in Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. I agree that this framework is helpful and also recommend reading Groundswell, but think the first step should be developing personal familiarity with the tools so you can envision potential applications for your organization.

I originally answered these questions about a month in advance of an event that was about a month ago, so my thinking has continued to evolve. In the final post in this series, I will highlight at least one area in which I now think a more aggressive strategy is in order.