I’ve found that the attention span of the average healthcare executive to be akin to that of a Labrador puppy. With physician issues, patient issues, financial issues and operational issues, you can’t really blame them. Their Outlook daily calendars are Technicolor nightmares.
So, when you want to talk about employing new web marketing and social media strategies, you've got to have a plan. But understand that you might not be received with a standing ovation, tears of joy and a new title (with company car privileges). When I shared Sherman's plan, I was met with blank stares and giggles over the word “Twitter.”
Now, a year has gone by since we employed our social media and web marketing program. The returns are promising. And the execs are starting to think that there might be something to this whole Internet thing, afterall.
Ready to pitch your plan? Here's what you need to know:
1. Find an internal champion. Connect with someone who understands and is interested in social media. If they are on the exec team, great. If they’re a board member, even better. A strategically placed advocate can sometimes make all the difference.
2. Do your research. This recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project has a lot of great information about the changing healthcare consumer. There’s more than enough information that explains how today’s healthcare consumer depends on the Internet for health information.
3. Educate. If your boss looks bewildered when you ask, "Did you get my Tweet this morning?" you might need to do a tutorial. Take some time to walk through all of the funky sounding names and terms, by explaining how they can help your organization. Chances are their children know about this stuff, too. And if all else fails, try this tactic: Don't you want to see what your kid is up to on Facebook?
4. Be realistic. You can’t surrender all of the standard fare in favor of the sparkly Internet-based methods. If you’re in healthcare, you’ll still have to do the quality ads, billboards and newspaper ads. Use a social media and web marketing program to round out your organization’s portfolio. If you have to sacrifice somewhere, give up printed brochures, flyers, banners and posters. That's a good purge—now your hospital hallways won't look like an elementary school.
5. Manage expectations. So much of the social media and web marketing is about measuring and adjusting. You need time to find your audience and figure out what works best to reach them. Collect your successes and make adjustments accordingly. They need to understand it’s an ongoing, learning process. Hopefully they’re willing to go along for the ride.