Communicating with Social Media is the Norm, Using it Will Increase Patient Volume

June 15, 2010

I say over and over, the way people communicate today has changed. Consumers expect information to be available at the moment they want it.  If you aren’t “in” the conversation – you don’t exist.  Social media allows you to be found online, participate in the conversation and increase patient volume.

A recent study shows 48% of people check Twitter/Facebook during the night or as soon as they wake up.

The study goes on to show that 1/3 of people have replaced traditional news sources (TV, newspapers) with Twitter and Facebook.

Are you on Twitter and Facebook? What are people saying about you? If you aren’t online, you can’t participate and influence the conversation.

Developing a Social Media Plan

If you aren’t online or aren’t active online, getting started is easy. The key is to take the time to develop your framework and strategy. It all starts with asking yourself these questions:

  • People: Your target audience
  • Objective: What you want to accomplish
  • Strategy: Plan how your relationship with customers will change
  • Technology: Decide what social media technologies to use

Once you have the answers, set-up a 60-day plan to get yourself started. Your framework can last you years and allow you to meet the consumer expectation’s of participation in the conversation.

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Study: Facebook and Twitter Competitive Advantage To Increase Patient Volumes

May 14, 2010

This study is another sign that social media is becoming a competitive advantage to increase your patient volumes for those that are participating, and an increasingly major weakness for those that aren’t.

Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies published a study showing that 67% of people are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Twitter and 51% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook.

Moreover, they’re 79% more likely to recommend their Twitter follows to a friend and 60% more likely to do the same on Facebook. As you know, in hospital marketing, the will recommend benchmark is critical to increasing your volume and reputation.

The study also found that many consumers across a wide variety of demographics have a negative perception of brands that aren’t using social media.

Use Social Media to Increase Your Patient Volume

Follow these easy steps and you will be on your way to engaging your existing brand enthusiasts on social media and keeping them active.

  1. Define your goal
  2. Identify your specific target
  3. Create a message
  4. Set-up your accounts
  5. Create an automation program to manage your accounts even when you are busy

In 60 days, you can have an active following. Today is the day to get started!

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Harnessing the Power of a Twitter Contest to Increase Patient Volume

May 6, 2010

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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An Effective Digital Strategy Builds Patient Volume No Matter What Tools You Use

March 23, 2010

Creating and implementing an effective digital strategy which allows you to communicate your benefits to a target audience will build relationships and increase patient volume no matter what social media tools you use.

BrandWeek’s article on”The Tweet Hereafter” examines the effectiveness and viability of Twitter in the future. I say let’s not worry about the future, Twitter is a valuable resource today for those who can use it effectively. Twitter may not be here in 5 years, but with an effective digital strategy you will be able to take advantage of the 6.2 million users per month (down from 7.8 million) and implement your strategy on the next new social media tool.

So why has Twitter become a wasteland for big brands?

  • Verizon spent more than $1 billion in 2009 and has only around 5,000 followers
  • Coca-Cola has 15,000 followers
  • Apple isn’t even on Twitter
  • Delta Airlines page went 7 months without an update

It goes to show money can’t buy relevance. Large companies are too focused on:

  •  Complex strategies and messages
  • Everything is focused on their product
  • Logo used throughout blog, Facebook and Twitter sites
  • Inconsistent content dissemination
  • All communications are about the brand, not about the benefits of the brand to your target

So why does Woot and Someecards have 1,642,744 and 1,619,856 followers respectively? The have implemented a strategy which abides by the 3 key principles of a social media strategy.

 

 

  • Connect with target audience and develop meaningful relationships
  • Become the #1 resource for your target audience
  • Utilize all social marketing platforms, not just Facebook or Twitter

By following these three principles to an effective social marketing strategy, you will be able to flow with the changes in the social media landscape (one thing is for sure-things will be changing) and increase your patient volumes.

 

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Use a Full Media Mix to Build Patient Volume

February 26, 2010

There is a something you can do that will revolutionize your ability to drive volume into the hospital: learn how to effectively put together a full media mix.

In 1993 the seminal work Integrated Marketing Communications- Putting It All Together & Making It Work by Shultz, Tannenbaum and Lauterborn, rocked the way marketers were thinking about how to communicate with their targets. Their basic premise was that mass media by itself no longer works. They concluded that a large variety of contacts with the target, activation points, were needed to help build a strong brand reputation and sales growth.

Even though this was a landmark work by any definition, reportedly the authors were somewhat surprised that the book never fully revolutionized corporate marketing the way they had hoped. Why? Because in 1993 there were not enough activation points. Now there are countless and they are proliferating like ants at a picnic.

What are some of the activation points you should consider?

Along with all the traditional media you have used for years you have to build intimacy and dialog with consumers using new media.

There are now over 400 million Facebook users, Twitter is growing by over 7 million users a month, consumers’ trust in the recommendations of friends and neighbors is growing thanks to social media networks and custom niche social networks like Ning.

Almost 70% of consumers go to the internet about an elective procedure before they talk to a medical professional. One of the most important things you can do is to use spider analytics to monitor all blogs and social media for mentions of your doctors- an essential discipline I call Reputation Management.

I believe your job as a hospital marketer just got easier and harder at the same time. Easier because there are so many new ways for you to develop real relationship with consumers choosing a provider. Harder because everything is changing at lightening speed and you have no choice but to keep up.

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5 Steps to Tweet Your Way to Increased Patient Volume

February 5, 2010

According to a recent study 90% of hospitals and health systems use social media tools, but only 1 in 3 have a digital strategy.

Social media tools are not a magic bullet, but by utilizing the right mix of tools, social media is a great way to drive patient volume by delivering relevant content to interested patients at the moment they are looking for it.

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service. A large portion of Twitter users are older adults with only 11% of users between the ages of 12 and 17.

How can you get started on Twitter?

Below are 5 easy steps to get you effectively tweeting.

  1. Identify your audience: you can’t reach everyone in 140 characters
  2. Create relevant messages: if you can provide useful information to your audience they will listen and spread your message
  3. Have a plan: utilize tools to easily and consistently update your page
  4. Integrate: Let Twitter support your greater marketing effort
  5. Network: Don’t wait until people find you, go find them. On average 40% of the people you follow will follow you back!

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