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True Or False: "Many Hospital Tweets Are Useless And Stupid."

As hospital marketers frantically shovel content out the door, counting activity as results, are they treating social media as little more than a bigger shovel?   Several related items caught my bleary-eyed weekend reading attention...

First, I completely agree with Anne Zeiger at The nextHospital Manifesto that many hospital tweets are useless and stupid.  According to Anne,
"Right now, many hospital tweeters seem to think that Twitter is just another channel for publishing the same dull content they’ve always produced, and it’s killing their public image. Please believe me, because I’m dead serious about this: It’s killing your public image in Twitter-land. Many of you are coming across as slap-happy, unresponsive and, forgive me, actually rather dumb. I know you’re not, folks; I’m just telling you how it looks on our end."
 What Twitterverse behaviors does Anne recommend against?
  • Community relations messages (like "Get your mammograms right here, right now.") 
  • Public relations missives (it's mainly for the boss's benefit anyway unless it's BIG news, like "We just won a Baldrige quality award.")  
  • Blow-by-blow accounts of some surgery (it's been done, you weren't the first and the novelty wore off long ago.)
 So how can you unlock the potential of social networks?  Michael Zeisser writing in the latest McKinsey Quarterly has some ideas:
"We do have pages on Facebook and active feeds on Twitter, but we never thought those steps alone would make a big difference to the performance of our companies. More recently, we have adopted a new mind-set: we think of word of mouth generated on social networks as a distinct form of media. This idea is more than a semantic detail. When you think of word of mouth as media, it becomes a form of content, and businesses can apply tried-and-true content-management practices and metrics to it. In addition, word of mouth generated by social networks is a form of marketing that must be earned—unlike traditional advertising, which can be purchased. We therefore concluded that we could succeed only by being genuinely useful to the individuals who initiate or sustain virtual world-of-mouth conversations."
Two key things there: word of mouth must be EARNED as opposed to bought, and the importance of being "genuinely useful..."

So how do you do THAT?  Back to Anne for some ideas:
  • Ask your followers to submit meaningful clinical questions and get your best clinicians to answer.  If one person has a question you can bet lots of others have the same question.
  • In the same vein, ask your followers to complete a survey about THEIR priorities and ideas for service improvements.  Thank them for their time and opinions.
  • Tweet important clinical news (your own and others') that could make a difference in someone's life.  Or as Anne says, "Act like your institution actually, uh, knows stuff..."
  • And you could even hire someone with journalistic credentials to be your medical news Tweeter.
And more from Steve Davis, Health Care Strategist (that's me in case you're not paying close attention.)
Good luck and let's be careful out there.  Contact me ( if you agree, disagree or haven't made up your mind.

UPDATED LATER THAT DAY:  Well, I've re-learned several lessons with this post.  First and foremost: if you want more blog traffic, LOTS more blog traffic, write provocative headlines, REALLY provocative headlines.

Also, where Anne said 'many' I said 'most.'  They are not the same thing and I've edited my post accordingly.

Finally dear readers, those of you who may disagree with me, please don't JUST tell me I'm "full of it."  That wouldn't be news, exactly.  If you happen to disagree with Anne's thesis and/or my endorsement, do us all a favor and come supplied with facts, data, something approaching evidence making the counter-argument.

After all, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."  Think about it.


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