Paying homage to Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere, Stephen Moegling, Franklin Street Marketing senior vice president of client services, says that today’s health care marketers need to be a connector to both supporters and detractors, old school and new school, and patients and doctors in spreading the gospel of the value of social media.
Speaking during the final day of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications Spring Symposium in Portsmouth, N.H., Moegling said the need for health care marketers — whether they’re in-house or part of a consultant group — to serve as connectors is more crucial than ever.
Moegling said Revere was successful in warning colony residents of the impending British troop movement, because he was well-known and well-connected to the area communities, not because he was the loudest or had the fastest horse. While Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools have the same power to connect people, it is the marketers themselves that must be the nexus in either launching or growing a successful strategy.
“Social media is perhaps the most revolutionary tool at our disposal, but in health care, in some ways, we can’t yet see the forest from the trees,” he said, citing Pew Research Center statistics that reported more than 4-in-10 Internet users using social media for health queries or concerns. “If we’re not in that space having those conversations, then what are we really doing?”
Moegling said the strategy for a successful campaign is much like a game of table tennis — a lot of back and forth, in which outcomes, such as class sign-ups, event attendance or other interactive programs should be the goal. Getting there is an eight-step process, according to Moegling, which includes hurdles such as key concerns about ROI from management, IT and others in health care, a lack of control over comments and avoiding HIPAA violations.
Some of those steps — such as having a plan, emphasizing the local nature of social media and avoiding geek-speak when trying to get key players on board — may seem obvious to most. Others — such as framing the argument for social media beyond dollars and cents, and facts and figures — may not be.
“People don’t buy what you do — they buy why you do it,” Moegling said, emphasizing that as Facebook itself thrives on emotions, so does the decision-making process at all levels.
Giving hard facts and figures, however, isn’t always as difficult a task as it may seem. Moegling suggested hospitals could track social media followers as they come into the facility to utilize the services offered — whether for classes or for care. Those additional measurements of activity and progress, especially when viewed in terms of “real-world” events as opposed to Klout scores on Twitter or “like” counts on Facebook can be especially persuasive, he added.
Adam Gaub is a health care editor with SmartBrief. For more on health care marketing, sign up to receive the SmartBrief for HealthCare Marketers, delivered free every Tuesday.