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In his opening keynote at the Mayo Clinic’s Health Care Social Media Summit, Lee Aaseshared these wise words. They are part of a philosophy that has propelled the Mayo Clinic—traditionally a conservative institution—forward to become one of the most trusted healthcare brands online.
For the healthcare communicators in the room, the words certainly struck a chord. They describe the challenge—and the opportunity—of engaging in a time when it seems like everything changes on a daily basis. Consider: Three years ago, Pinterest, the third most popular social media site, didn’t exist.
Faced with this rapid evolution, how can healthcare communicators advance their goals? It starts with those three short sentences.
If your institution is not already active online, the idea of jumping into social media is daunting. But consider: New York Presbyterian Hospital had only been using social media for a few months when Hurricane Sandy struck the city. During the crisis, Twitter became one of the only viable forms of communicating with employees and patients. Now, social media is an essential part of the hospital’s strategy.
Don’t wait until there is a crisis to think about social media channels. Think big. What could you accomplish with digital tools?
It doesn’t take a social media army to have an impact. Start with small steps, such as creating a single, heartfelt video that tells the story of one of your patients. As Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children discovered with The Tin Man, when your institution sees the impact of one video (or one Twitter feed, or one Facebook page) the door to doing more will open wider.
Finally, remember that social media engagement takes place in real time. As the Mayo Clinic discovered when it first ventured into social media, you can’t form a committee to answer every question. Instead, establish a social media policy and then empower your employees to move fast. Doing so can avert a crisis – or allow you to seize an opportunity online.
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