Sg2 Strategic Countdown: Tapping Into Social Media
Social media use continues to skyrocket—as of September 2013, 73% of adult Internet users reported participating in social networking sites. And, increasingly, patients are turning to these channels to foster health-related relationships, both with those managing similar conditions and with the providers who care for them. Have you embraced social media as a means to build brand, capture market share and, ultimately, engage patients? Sg2 offers six strategies to execute a successful social media strategy.
- Define Depth of Involvement: Be prepared, at the very least, to monitor social media streams to correct misinformation, whether clinical or related to brand and marketing. Dive deeper by choosing to join, lead or be the conversation—scale your involvement from participating in an existing social media network to proactively setting topics and tone to becoming the one-stop shop for health care data.
- Establish Clear Social Media Goals: Create a long-range comprehensive plan aligned with your system’s overall mission. Once goals (eg, brand awareness, service recovery) are defined, identify the appropriate end users. Take into consideration the diverse characteristics of the individuals you wish to engage.
- Integrate Efforts Into a Broader Marketing Platform: Merge social media with your existing marketing efforts to create a cohesive strategic plan. Reassess your marketing budget, defining areas in which resources used for traditional outreach could be beneficially reallocated. Ensure consistent messaging cascades across all channels, and determine who will lead your social media initiative.
- Match Medium to the Message and Audience: Select the right media mix targeted toward the right individuals. Starting with one channel (eg, Facebook) and slowly diversifying to other media often reveals how best to deploy resources and where communication gaps exist. Keep messaging social and aligned with consumers’ needs and preferences in terms of technology, language and interests.
- Create and Enforce a Social Media Policy: Establish a policy that both protects the organization and sets expectations for employees and consumers about appropriate use. Craft guidelines that explicitly define confidentiality standards, detail who is permitted to speak on behalf of the organization and outline disciplinary ramifications regarding improper use. Vet all policies with a legal team.
- Measure and Monitor Impact: Select key metrics (eg, cost per click, “impressions” on Twitter) and track them effectively to target investment and build the business case for additional resources. Calculating the return on social media can be challenging; yet, tracking metrics tightly aligned with strategic goals can shed light on usage, trends and the success of specific initiatives.