Harnessing the Power of a Twitter Contest to Increase Patient Volume

Presuming your hospital, practice or healthcare network is using Twitter, it’s time to consider ways to optimize it to the benefit of your patients and organization.
A tactic as simple as a Twitter contest can prove to be lightning in a bottle, as long as you can create the perfect storm.

One case study in particular comes to mind as exemplary. A prerequisite to consider before you model a program after this: make sure you have a healthy twitter following since the larger your following, the greater your chance of success.

FiLife , an online community for personal finance information, sought to join the political conversation on healthcare in September 2009. They challenged Twitter users to tweet in three words about how they would fix healthcare, and to tag their tweet with #fix healthcare. A week-long contest at the height of Washington healthcare discussions garnered over 100,000 participants eligible for a $100 cash prize (five winners were selected at random).

Here’s why it worked:

  • Brevity: Twitter is the world of 140 characters or less, and Twitter contests are most successful when kept brief. FiLife kept prize money simple and the timeframe short to sustain interest.
  • Easy entry: Twitter contests need to be simple when it comes to entry. For FiLife, entry was as simple as tweeting a 3-word phrase with their advice/opinion, and using a hashtag.
  • Timely: the topical nature of the FiLife contest at the peak of political debates gave this contest even greater appeal.
  • Qualitative Data: Not only was the contest successful, but for a total of $500, FiLife gathered invaluable data: information on their target audience and what they think, feel and desire.

I challenge you to take your Twitter efforts one step further and develop a contest to engage your target.

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