These are not the efforts of fly-by-night agencies or cavalier clients. Quite the contrary.
Our observation is that these are programs in which social media is seen as a box to be "checked off" -- not a strategic component of a larger plan intended to cause a positive business outcome.
Since the only goal is audience participation, the audience sees little value in the invitation and opts not to get involved.
We understand the seduction. We have clients saying, "We've got to do something in social media!" It probably isn't the second coming, but it is a phenomenon that is game changing in all kinds of respects. More importantly to them, it's cheaper than paid media.
But if an organization wants social media success, it must integrate it into a larger context. Social media have more richness if they interlock with complementary marketing and media strategies -- and if the messages in each are insightful and synchronous.
It can be complicated for companies that feel the imperative to jump into social media up to their ankles. But it's better to think it through so you don't find yourself having to explain to the CEO or the CFO how the social media experiment turned into another marketing expense that failed to generate any return.
Social Media and The Rise of Healthcare Consumerism
When it comes to healthcare, making social media part of an overall strategy can have significant benefits to reach a new kind of active and aware healthcare consumer.
Escalating health premiums -- a barometric reading of increasing healthcare cost pressure -- are no longer sustainable. Cost increases are created by factors that include: amortizing the expenses of treating those without insurance; lack of coordination of healthcare services that often leads to redundancies and inefficiencies; and inconsistent quality.
All of these factors are making us more active healthcare consumers. We are more active than our parents: we are 78% more likely to research information on physicians and 75% more likely to evaluate treatment options. Only 24% of us trust our doctor completely to make the right decisions for us in terms of where we should go to get our care. When choosing a hospital, only 5% of us feel that hospitals are doing an excellent job educating us on why their facility is better than others.
Healthcare consumerism is growing and requires consistent nourishment -- that is where the profound opportunity lies for health organizations. The more options patients have to deepen their engagement, make informed decisions and manage expenses, the better. Hospitals regularly generate data that show patient satisfaction has direct bottom-line consequences. Health plans encourage members to use the system appropriately and manage their own health more actively to avoid the system as much as possible.
Hence, social media are vital, necessary components to integrate into all communications. They are strategic tools in the arsenal just like public relations, advertising, search, community outreach.
Healthcare consumers want -- and are getting used to -- freedom of choice. They are taking a more active role in making decisions about selecting who will provide their care and where they will receive it. Reform-minded providers understand that the patient experience, and patient satisfaction, can have profound consequences.
So go build something that educates and adds value, something that integrates with other programs and includes measurable online media in conjunction with traditional media. We know the majority of patients are online looking for health information and they're discussing it.
Rather than avoiding social media, join the party. Get the brainstorms going. Think about new ideas. Start conversations in new ways with patients and doctors. Let them tell us what they want.
And then you will engage consumers on a more organic level. And they will see value. And participate.