How Hospitals and Health Systems Should Not Use Twitter
As has been well documented elsewhere, primarily by the oracle of social media adoption in the healthcare space, aka Ed Bennett, more institutional healthcare providers are putting a toe in the water whether via Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube or the fourth horse in the race, FriendFeed (though not tracked by Ed).
Most are lurking or “monitoring their brand” via select hashtags or semantic filters, or by following those active in the broad range of healthcare or wellness related issues. Others, and the vast majority in my experience, are primarily and sparsely “pushing content” from live surgical tweets to the press release “du jour”, i.e., our new cath lab or latest amenity addition.
Yet very few are participating at the level of engagement wherein “conversations are recognized as markets” per the Cluetrain Manifesto, in which the institution participates authentically with intent to establish and build a personal relationship with its followers or community.
Clearly hospitals and health systems are complex entities for which no one person can consistently speak both with authority and authenticity on behalf of the organization and still keep it “personal”.
By proxy prevailing institutional engagements in social media is typically conducted by a hospital or health system employee who may manage both a personal and institutional account, formally, informally or both.
In my view, the market leader aka “chancellor” in the medium of microblogging participation is @LeeAase of the Mayo Clinic, who also manages the @MayoClinic twitter account.
Lee is prolific in his educational content that is mostly directed to the internal constituency of Mayo, which is increasingly finding external interest in what Mayo is doing for their own institution’s consideration.
If you are a hospital, healthcare facility or parent system considering social media, please take the time to learn what is happening in the “Twittersphere”, and do pay attention to the evolving “agreements” of Twitter-etiquette.
As far as recommendations are concerned, here is a brief list of “do’s and “don’ts”:
1. Open an account with Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and FriendFeed, claim your name and protect your brand on these platforms (note: also recommend including uStream.tv or equivalent).
2. Get started by following people active in the healthcare space.
3. Study the market, read the ClueTrain Manifesto.
4. Find a smart, insightful and motivated person to task master the social media cause internally.
5. Do contribute to the tribe’s knowlege base; this is a young but rapidly evolving industry.
6. Do consider participating in or sponsoring a “HealthCamp”; where the web 2.0 and health 2.0 conversation meets and thrives.
7. Do start tweeting!
1. Do not open an account and push bursts of press releases, directly or via the many automated tools available, simply broadcasting your wares.
2. Do not push content into the stream unless you are prepared to respond directly and in a timely manner. Twitter is about engagement not silence, whether intentional or accidental.
3. Do not act like a silo separate from the community you serve. Be open to what your followers have to offer you, from user feedback to issues relating to cost, quality, access and other consumer experience concerns.
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