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6 (Specious) Arguments Against Social Media In Health Care

From Junto - A Gathering Of Marketing Professionals, here are the most common arguments against social media in health care:
"Social media opens the door for a HIPAA violation."
"No control over what people will say about us."
"There's no return on investment."
"People don't go online when picking healthcare providers."
"Our doctors don't care about social media."
"Everyone will be on Facebook instead of working."

"These roadblocks are, with few exceptions, categorically false.
The article calls health care "notorious for being 5-7 years behind the curve for marketing and communications innovation."  I think that's being kind.  15-20 years is more like it.

Why so far behind the curve?
  • Few hospital CEOs demand ROI accountability from the marketing team.  Fewer still mean it when they say it, enough to get out of the way and let it happen.
  • For many CFOs, marketing is little more than a "slush fund" to be tolerated when times are good and slashed the minute times get challenging.
  • And it's not uncommon to hear a physician opine that "people don't go online to pick a provider" when what they really mean is "I don't go online and don't understand why anybody else would either..."  Here again, CEOs often take the path of least resistance.
  • And it takes an intrepid, confident marketer to say "Yes, there IS a return on investment and I'll stake my job on it!  And I'll prove that physician wrong!"
Above all, I think the control issue is paramount.  A generation of physicians and hospital CEOs built careers and a sense of power from being in charge of the conversation. Social media democratizes all of that - the information, the discussions and, yes, the power.

What they're missing, I think, is that these social media conversations occur with or without them, just like they always have over the back fence, at PTA meetings and in the stands at kiddie soccer.  So if they're occuring anyway, isn't it better to have a voice, to be part of the conversation instead of an ignorant, listening-impaired bystander?


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