Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Corporate Social Media Profiles are Boring: Social Media for Multi-site Healthcare Orgs

Many multi-site health care organizations have just one Twitter handle or Facebook page controlled by corporate staff. Hospital systems and assisted living companies are especially guilty of this. They have one profile for hundreds of residential communities or dozens of hospitals. They do it to save time and resources, but ironically it is a waste of time altogether. They also do it to control their messaging, but sadly, nobody cares what they're saying.

Having just one corporate profile for all your locations defeats the purpose of being on social media. Your corporate profile is too far removed from the goings on at any individual location and the staff monitoring it have no idea how to communicate effectively with a local site's community. How can you possibly devote enough time to promote each location as it should be AND engage people effectively? It's hard enough getting people to engage with a brand -- let alone a brand that is so far removed from the entity they've actually dealt with in real life.

Some healthcare organizations rationalize this by saying they have limited resources and they want to control their marketing message. It is no coincidence that these same corporate organizations simply use their social media profiles to spout off promotional messages of little interest to their followers. Some of them don't even reply when people address them directly. They aren't engaging people and quite frankly, nobody cares that the organization is even on Twitter or Facebook. So I ask, "why bother?"

I argue that if these organizations can't (or won't) let each location have its own profile, the organization as a whole is better off just choosing one location and letting that site get a Twitter profile. You'll be able to generate much more specific, relevant and engaging content that prospective patients and residents (or their families) will actually care about.

I also argue that on social media you should not have control of a marketing message. You should be there to listen to what people are saying about your brand and talk to them. You should be engaging in dialogue. Then you should be sharing content that is highly relevant to a local community. For example, if we're talking about a large chain of assisted living facilities, you should be talking about what residents are doing at an individual community, posting photos of outings and talking to residents' families. You should not be issuing press releases and talking about corporate-wide initiatives.

Don't believe me? Think of a large multi-hospital organization. Or an assisted living company with communities scattered across the country. Find the company's Twitter or Facebook profile. What do they talk about? Is it interesting? Engaging? Or does it just make you want to log off and take a nap?

Is it possible to have a successful social media campaign with just one corporate profile? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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