Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

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Hospitals and social networking

In blogs,Facebook,Twitter,Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 by gingercatmom

In a previous post, I noted that 54% of Fortune 100 companies are using some form of social networking as part of their marketing communication efforts. What is the role of social networking for hospitals today–and how is the best way to launch an effort for a healthcare organization? Is it Twitter, Facebook, blogging…or all three?

Healthcare marketing experts are writing about this subject extensively. Their advice is similar. First, do your homework. Understand what takes place online. This involves listening respectfully to others and contributing to online conversations when appropriate. Second, focus on content that will be meaningful to customers. Unless people are truly interested in the conversation they will just tune out and “walk” away…which is tremendously easy to do when that conversation is online. Third, recognize that there will be some loss of control. To have a truly transparent, authentic presence in the virtual world, we need to let people speak their minds. Finally, we need to measure and in this respect, online media may offer some of the tracking advantages over traditional media.

Ed Bennett, director of web strategy a the University of Maryland Medical System offers a helpful list of U.S. Hospitals who are incorporating social networking. His most recent data on 367 hospitals of varying sizes shows dramatic growth in the use of Twitter over the past year. Bennett’s data shows less than 50 Hospitals on Twitter in September 2008, with 267 now using Twitter. You Tube usage has also grown, but not quite as dramatically.

There seems no need to reinvent the wheel when successful online communities exist. If we know our customers are interested in what we have to say, and will follow our cues to find the information we need, we have a golden opportunity to meet them where they are right now–online. We can use our creative abilities to educate, build relationships and ultimately create healthier communities. And that’s why many of us got into healthcare marketing in the first place!

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Look who’s tweeting!

In Facebook,Twitter,Uncategorized on September 20, 2009 by gingercatmom

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Twitter has earned the attention of 54% of America’s Fortune 100 companies. In fact, it’s the social media of choice for companies, outranking Facebook and blogging according to a recent Burson-Marsteller study. And when these companies use only one form of social media, it is most likely to be Twitter.

Looking at this from the corporate perspective, the reasoning appears to lie in Twitter’s simplicity. Say what you need to say quickly in 140 characters or less. Crank out the messages regularly. Read responses and repeat… A dip into the social networking pool can be fraught with all sorts of concerns from the corner office, but Twitter just seems to be a way to dive in.

The real question is how sustainable these efforts will be. This reminds of me of the “old” days when every department in my organization was eager to start a newsletter. The energy on the front end was high and the creative juices were flowing. There were pictures, shiny paper, special features and maybe even an eagerness on the reader’s part to receive each issue. Today–about three newsletters remain and we argue over whose turn it is to write them and wonder if anyone is really reading them.

Twitter is new. It’s a quick bite of information and it’s kind of fun. It’s gratifying to see that thousands of followers are waiting to see what we’ll say next. But how long will it be until those corporate tweets get a little stale–and we even start seeing recycled tweets from last year? How many tweets can one follower really digest before it just becomes ‘blah blah blah’. It will take a true corporate commitment to make this new media part of a long term strategy to build relationships with customers.

That said…I’m thinking of how I can start Tweeting at work and how I’ll build buzz for that. Stay tuned!

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Twitter–social networking for grown-up tastes?

In Facebook,social issues and new media,Twitter,Uncategorized on August 30, 2009 by gingercatmom

I discovered Twitter last year, signed up, and was surprised at who wasn’t there–most of my younger friends and colleagues who use other social networking tools such as Facebook, and none of my teenage kids. What I did find at Twitter: friends who were (gasp) over 40 and eager to connect via this new site–as well as a number of business and organizations that I regularly follow in other ways.

Apparently my experience was not unique. Claire Cain Miller, a New York Times writer wrote this week about the surprising social networking age gap on Twitter. Miller says Twitter’s success has been driven by an older age group that may be trying social networking for the first time through their Twitter experience. Even Oprah jumped on board this April, when Twitter’s CEO Evan Williams gave her a lesson on the show. To her devoted fans, Oprah’s “tweet” was a ringing endorsement of this social networking site. Within moments of Oprah’s first tweet, the service was bombarded with thousands of responses welcoming Oprah to their online world.

When Oprah says Twitter, America Twitters.

When Oprah says Twitter, America Twitters.

Forrester Research released a report last week on social networking use in the United States. Social networking by people aged 35-54 grew 60 percent in the past year. To put that in further perspective, half of the American adults online now use social networking.

For marketers, the lesson here is that changing media usage patterns require our close attention. If we want our messages to hit the mark, we need to be attuned–and then respond–to who is online and what they are doing. According to the report, “the time to build social marketing applications is now. Interactive marketers should influence social network chatter, master social communication, and develop social assets — even if their customers are older”

What we have thought of as new or emerging media is clearly moving towards the mainstream of American life and it’s a very real way to reach those who make the decisions and purchases that shape business today.