In Health Care Communication News, Chris Boyer lists 5 mistakes hospitals make with social media.

  1. Don’t participate enough
  2. Participating too much
  3. Confusing social marketing with traditional marketing
  4. Try to control their brand in social media
  5. Not aligning social media strategies with hospital marketing strategies

I’m gonna add a few more to the list. I think they should be at the top of the list.

As a social media guy for a whole lot of years, I get lots of people who ask me to help with their social media strategy. The first question I ask is always “Why do you want to use social media? (or: what do you want to get out of it?)” Usually, they tell me how excited by a new technology they are (let’s say Twitter in this example). Great! Excitement is helpful. Then I ask: How long have you been using twitter?


The great thing about social media is that any idiot (including this one) can jump in for free. As I used to say, even Ashton Kutcher is good at Twitter, so what’s stopping you?

My other favorite answer is “because everyone else is doing it.” Uh huh. You just follow along and hope that no one notices you have no idea what’s going on. Good plan.

When I ask what kinds of two-way conversations the hospital would have with someone, or who that someone might be… blank stare. Hospitals (like most large companies) aren’t well-equipped to have a two-way conversations with someone. Too many lawyers, executives and marketers want to get in the way. They want to control the message, which is fine. But you can’t control a conversation (trying makes you a jerk — test this theory sometime at a party!) so stop trying.

Finally, even the biggest company in the world who is successful at Twitter (and other social media) has a well-defined voice. Usually that voice comes not from a committee meeting, but because one trusted person was given control and authority to make decisions. They ended up being the voice of the company online, a voice that grew over time.

So here’s my proposed list of top mistakes hospitals (and most people) make in social media:

  1. The person proposing social media has never really used social media (worse: treats it with disdain or like it’s a toy)
  2. The ultimate reason for using social media is because everyone else is
  3. No idea what a hospital might talk about on social media (not, “say.” “Talk about.”)
  4. No idea what someone might get out of following/friending a hospital on social media.
  5. Not giving authority to someone to have a conversation in the voice of the hospital.

Is there any wonder why some people can’t figure out how to see the ROI on social media?

As per usual, comments are on, and you can hit me at @digital_pharma any time.