More and more hospitals are jumping on the bandwagon of healthcare social media.
According to Ed Bennet and his handy list of hospitals with a social media presence, there are more than 4,000 hospital social-networking sites, including 1,068 Facebook pages, 575 YouTube channels and 814 Twitter accounts as of October.
It comes as no surprise that more hospitals are on Facebook than other networks. After all, everyone and their dog is on Facebook. But just having a Facebook page does not automatically demonstrate healthcare social media expertise. Dana Lewis, who in 2009 introduced and still moderates the #hcsm weekly chats on Twitter, is an interactive marketing specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. She believes that many hospitals make the mistake of thinking that a Facebook page is similar to their website.
“The hospitals who are successful are the ones who have really detailed a specific reason they are on Facebook; they detail certain kinds of content or certain ways they want to engage with their audience,” Lewis said. “They are not just on Facebook [for the sake of being on it].”
Children’s Hospital of Boston is a great example, she said. A whopping 693,950 people have liked its Facebook page, and Lewis described the audience engagement — the primary measures of social media success — as “amazing.” Being able to tell good stories and acting as a patient resource, both of which Children’s does exceedingly well, are also two skills that hospitals need to demonstrate in order to have an effective social media strategy, Lewis said.
With that in mind, I looked at how some hospitals based in Minnesota are building their social media presence. I deliberately excluded Mayo Clinic’s exploits in healthcare social media because they are pretty well documented. So, here are two hospitals that seem to understand what people expect on Facebook better than their counterparts in the state.
This private, nonprofit hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota has 24 recommendations and 15,405 people who like its Facebook page. The wall posts demonstrate a mix of promotions type posts — buy one coffee and get one free at a shop on the hospital’s second floor — and posts on public health — an event to prevent teen suicide at a local high school.
The video channel has short videos on heart health and hospital promotional material, while a separate video link connects to Region’s YouTube channel. And interestingly, the Facebook page also functions as a recruiting tool with a “Careers” button.
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
More than 5,000 people have liked Children’s Facebook page. The current post highlights the MN Music 4 MN Kids project, where Minnesota artists came together to create an album to raise money for the hospital. Instead of simply highlighting the story and possibly linking to some of the news stories about the project, the Facebook page has embedded audio to play all the songs. It also has links to Amazon and iTunes, and a local kids store so that visitors to the page can buy the songs once they hear them on the Children’s Facebook page.
And then there are some hospitals that could be doing better. Here’s one:
Abbott Northwestern Hospital
Frankly, Abbott Northwestern’s Facebook page is disappointing.
The videos link is empty with a message that declares “Abbott Northwestern Hospitals has not shared any videos.” The photos don’t have any captions, so it’s not clear why we are seeing pictures of Synicyn Quadruplets, for instance. And the events link is bare as well.
This goes to show that being a large, well-regarded hospital may not necessarily mean that the marketing department has a well-construed social media strategy.
I must disclose my favorable bias toward Abbott. My first child was delivered there and when it came to number two, I could have easily chosen a hospital closer to where I live, but decided to go back to Abbott last September. The hospital saw me through another very difficult period of life last year when my mother had to have emergency back surgery.
Despite my positive experience with the institution’s healthcare delivery and quality, I can’t give similar praise for its social media presence.