While building a base of Facebook fans has its place, UbiCare CEO Betsy Weaver argues, hospitals should place greater emphasis on measuring engagement.
Writing in a white paper released last week, Weaver uses a combination of expert research and interviews with hospital leaders to take a look at the ever-elusive idea of return on investment when it comes to Facebook use.
“When you hear someone say they have a Facebook page for a hospital and believe it can be successful without spending money, that’s surprising,” she said. “One of biggest costs is if you don’t invest in your Facebook account being robust and meaningful, it costs much more to work to to undo a bad first impression.”
According to the UbiCare report, the number of hospitals in the U.S. using Facebook is increasing, but still remains below 20%. Of that group, relatively few are using Facebook as more than a public relations platform, Weaver said.
Weaver, whose company provides health care content in a variety of fields for use in the social media space, emphasizes that local hospitals can have a greater affect on the public than large institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, because they have local resources readers can take advantage of. Comparing the fan bases of large specialty hospitals to local hospitals is like “comparing apples to oranges,” she says.
“Hospitals have to get past preoccupation with the acquisition of fans,” Weaver said. “You want to interact with the fans. People come back when they can dig in deep.”
Because setting up a Facebook account is free, some don’t see the need to invest time and resources into the page. The hidden cost is the “elephant in the room,” Weaver says, because even if a consultant isn’t hired to help manage content, man-hours are still dedicated to controlling the hospital’s social media message, though many hospital executives still subscribe to the notion that a Facebook presence can be successful at little or no cost.
One way to have engaging content is with posts that aren’t stand-alone, but cause readers to ask questions that can be answered by experts or fellow readers. Another method, Weaver said, is to have links to more information that can help provide depth to what’s presented on the Facebook page.
Image credit: Osuleo, via iStockphoto