According to Authority Marketing Specialist Linda Carey, hospital CEOS and/or COOs need to get more involved as creative architects for digital marketing through strategic planning exercises with professionals prior to campaign execution. Ms. Carey emphatically states, “Many CEOS and COOS of hospitals fail to get involved directly on the front end of a digital marketing campaign and are likely to be pulled in due to a communication crisis mid-stream that could have been averted.” She continues, “I think executives are largely intimidated by the fact that they have so many priorities and this is unfamiliar turf but nonetheless, the vision for any hospital campaign needs to be incubated with collaborative leadership at the top of the organization in the c-suite.”
Furthermore, executive oversight for the results is required in order for campaigns to flourish. Sadly, the responsibility and accountability for digital marketing is often deferred to individuals who may or may not be qualified to build and optimize a hospital’s reputation and authority. This is a mistake. While no one expects today’s responsibility-laden healthcare provider executives to ‘micro-manage’ digital marketing, there is a definite need to escalate this powerful opportunity as a strategic initiative and priority in the C-suite. One excellent outcome is that the facility will achieve greater “authority” via digital content. The benefits are numerous but specifically may include increased demand for that facilities’ services. Consumers have choices and education as to why a facility should be considered and possibly selected over an alternative option is truly mission critical.
If a facility is not currently engaging online or is engaging with lackluster results, where should a healthcare executive start?
Ten Relevant Questions That Should Precede Online Engagement:
- What knowledge is there of “best practices” in healthcare digital marketing?
- Is there a strategic vision or “end game” in mind for a specific time period or thematic digital marketing campaign?
- What are the ideal experience requirements of individuals who are either hired or appointed to implement online campaigns?
- What are the rules of “engagement” for online content production, monitoring and engagement within a facility?
- How is a facility prepared to respond proactively or reactively to opportunities and/or threats of online engagement?
- What specific deliverables are sought?
- How does the online engagement dovetail with “off-line” events and services offered?
- How does a facility position its expertise in various medical specialties and services to patient-consumers online?
- What metrics are being utilized to evaluate digital marketing campaigns and/or properties?
- What other key internal or external stakeholders are being made aware of success and/or failures of online marketing?
Be Aware: Digital Marketing Is Not Just Facebook
Digital marketing is mistakenly often “summarized” as “Facebook”. While Facebook is very popular and can afford some great insights and benefits, it should never be the summation of a healthcare provider’s digital marketing suite. The fact is that digital marketing evolves every single day and requires expertise by individuals who commit themselves to continuous learning in a fast-paced and perpetual learning environment. While there are numerous ways to “engage” online, new methods are being spawned each day. Some of these may include websites, blogs and various social properties like Twitter, Pinterest, Google + or Instagram. Social bookmarking sites also help messages go viral and may include Only Wire, Stumble Upon and Reddit (to name a few). All of these require concentration for content production, timely posting, curation and reputation management.
Hire Qualified People to Execute Digital Marketing
A major challenge is that individuals appointed to “manage Facebook” are not schooled in the suite of digital tools available, the fundamentals of engagement marketing and the specific nuances of posting healthcare related content. Most effective online digital marketers have spent years learning, crafting and honing their skills through online industry experts, not to mention investing hundreds (if not thousands of dollars) on digital marketing tutorials and software. All of this is done in order to stay abreast of the constant changes online and to be better at educating and supporting healthcare specific audiences. To give a media management role to a novice or worse, an individual who is the “catch-all” for the face of hospital marketing will lend “piece-meal” results. Bottom line…you get what you pay for here also.
Plan a Budget
The best campaigns feature online and offline engagement that is blended for optimal outcomes. Digital marketing should be a line item in the annual capital planning process.
Identify Your Online Audiences
The following list consists of just six audiences who are previewing healthcare provider social media properties daily and should be considered by a healthcare provider executive who needs inspiration to get on board with digital marketing:
1. Patient-consumers who are tweeting, texting and, in general ,communicating about everything, including your hospital
2. Vendors who are determining whether you are a good prospect for their goods and services
3. Physicians who may be potential recruits
4. Community members who wield influence such as bankers, businesses, fundraisers, politicians, chamber of commerce members or community college leaders
5. Potential investors
6. Regulatory agencies
Get Real With Oversight for Online Marketing and Social Media
No news here, the “buck” ultimately stops at the CEO/COO desk. If you are finding that you don’t like the “fruit of the vine”, then look to where “the vine” was germinated. Summarily, responsibility for the overarching vision and a campaign that benefits all stakeholders must be initiated in the top tier of the C-Suite and most assuredly precedes implementation.
For more information on Authority Marketing for the Healthcare Industry, see www.healthindustrymarketing.com.