Should Healthcare Organizations Use Social Media?: A Global Update
Social media is the process of people using online tools and platforms to share content and information. It is drastically changing the way we communicate and you should not underestimate its ability to work for or against your organization. It's an integral tool for marketing and customer service relations in any industry, so social media in healthcare is no different.
Globally, healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals are already using social media as an important tool to connect consumers and providers as well as to inform product development. The experience of early adopters demonstrates that an effective social media strategy can be used to accomplish healthcare goals in four broad areas: communications, information sharing, clinical outcomes and speed of innovation.
In considering what to do with and about social media, healthcare organizations cannot afford to take a “wait-and-see” approach or you may soon find yourself playing catch up with competitors. Even if you do not currently have an active social media presence, your employees and customers are already using social media and may be sharing information about you.
At minimum, organizations need a “protective” policy and an outreach program to educate employees and customers about appropriate social media use. More broadly, organizations should develop an overarching social media strategy that leverages social media in healthcare marketing to help influence customers and accomplish strategic healthcare goals.
CSC's recommendations for effective social media use in healthcare marketing:
1. Don’t take a “wait-and-see approach.” Although some believe social media is a passing fad, we believe it is here to stay and the sooner your organization develops an active presence and social media strategy, the less distance you will have to make up later.
2. Establish a social media policy. At minimum, this will help protect against security, privacy or ethics breaches by your employees or customers. You should also offer staff education. Training and outreach are necessary to ensure that staff fully comprehends and is able to carry out the policy.
3. Follow your customers. Listen to what others are saying about your organization, your product(s) and your brand(s). Monitor the social media activities of others in your market, and use social media to listen to what others are saying about your competition.
4. Consider starting where many organizations start. You can use social media to enhance marketing, branding, recruitment, reputation management, customer relations and customer service. However, educate yourself first on what is allowable under existing laws in your country.
5. Start small and monitor outcomes. You don’t have to develop a full-blown social media strategy now, but eventually you will need one. Ask what your organization should be doing now to anticipate a more widespread use of social media in healthcare to help accomplish key healthcare goals. Then expand your social media activities into new areas of value.
6. Recruit social media managers internally. Distribute responsibilities among staff that know your organization, are Internet-savvy and are excited about using social media in healthcare to benefit your organization. Keep social media content accurate and current.
Download the full report: Should Healthcare Organizations Use Social Media? (PDF, 3.03MB).