Lots of hospitals are using social media, but only 1 in 3 has a plan

Social media is one of those things that seems deceptively simple. You open a Twitter account and send out some Tweets. Perhaps you’ll start a Facebook page and auto-feed in some content. Maybe you’ll upload some videos onto YouTube. These are all uses of social media tools — but using them doesn’t constitute a plan. And using social media by itself doesn’t constitute an online marketing plan.

This month a study published by Greystone.net found that 9 out of 10 hospitals are involved to some degree in social media — but only 1 in 3 has an actual plan in place. Greystone’s two month-long study surveyed over 100 hospital and health system marketers. The study also found some interesting facts:

1. Most hospitals and health networks use fewer than 3 people do social media — and those people are usually from the technology or web department. What does this mean? It means most hospital’s social media programs aren’t run by marketers — probably because those in charge either don’t understand the value or importance of social networks. In many ways social media requires more marketing knowledge than traditional advertising. Instead of developing one large message for thousands of people social media requires you to make thousands of smaller messages for thousands of people — and then interact with them one-on-one.

2. Most hospitals report they aren’t seeing results from social media. I’m sure after reading the first point you’ll be able to guess the reason behind this one. If you don’t create an effective program and allow it to be run by knowledgeable people, you can’t expect to see results. Only 12.5% of those surveyed said they were experiencing success with social media. The results of other more finite goals are pretty much what you would expect. Only 16.7% said they had been successful with community relations, 8.7% said they had success with customer service and employee engagement and only 4.7% said social media helped with crisis management.

So if hospitals aren’t using the tools of social media (or even staffing them) correctly it’s no wonder they’re not experiencing results. Especially when social media is only one facet of a full online marketing plan.

Above A sample of a graph that is included in our Spark Report. We track every single spike and dip in traffic and attribute it to a specific action, event or link.

Social media isn’t enough on it’s own to get results. We’ve designed a comprehensive online marketing program called Sparking. It includes social media — but social media can’t work by itself. Before we begin we meet with our clients to determine their goals. Then we develop a comprehensive plan that combines social media, interactive marketing, blogging, content creation, online events, advertising and reputation management all into one neat and powerful little package.

One Comment

  1. Deanne
    February 8, 2010

    I think it’s important that people recognize that you can’t just put videos on YouTube or set up a Twitter account and say that it is a good use of social media. You need to be using this technology in the right way for it to be effective, just like anything else!