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SoLoMo: Goofy Watchword to Improve Hospital Marketing Success

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
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“SoLoMo.” Say it slowly a couple of times.

It’s one of those recently minted, goofy-sounding marketing terms that someone invented. But SoLoMo belongs in your hospital marketing vocabulary. It’s a convenient contrivance to remind marketing planners to leverage the significant SOCIAL, LOCAL and MOBILE trends.

Dissecting SoLoMo: What it means and why it’s important…

Each of the three elements—social, local, mobile—is, according to a study conducted by comScore, experiencing a “revolution.” But more importantly, the intersection of these components has the makings of a “perfect storm” for online business development. SoLoMo elements are tightly interrelated. In short, rapidly increasing numbers of consumers access the Internet via mobile device for local search and social exchange.

SOCIAL: Social media facilitate interactions among people, via mobile and web-based technologies. Participants create highly interactive platforms via which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss and modify user-generated content. In healthcare marketing, interactions are a form of engagement, such as patient/provider, for example.

What’s more, Internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site, according to Nielson. And the total time spent on social media in the US across PC and mobile devices has increased by 37 percent in the past year. The PwC Health Research Institute reports, “90 percent of adults 18-24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks.”

LOCAL: Local search provides users with online search results that are geographically focused to an immediate area. Search queries (and results) typically include both “what” (such as keyword or business category), and “where” (such as address or location). [Search for “Italian food,” versus “Pizza parlor in Elk Grove Village.”] Local search advertising can be highly effective for retail business as well as hospitals because ads can be targeted precisely to the search terms and immediate location.

“Consumers are increasingly using search engines to find local products and services online. In recent years, the number of local searches has grown rapidly, while off-line information searches, such as print Yellow Page lookups, have declined.” (Wikipedia)

MOBILE: Mobile computing broadly refers to the use of portable hardware/software technology—primarily smartphone and/or tablet computer—to access mobile optimized websites in portable or transient environments. Sometime this year mobile phones will, according to a Gartner forecast, reach a tipping point and overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. And, according to Google, about one in three patients use a mobile device for health/medical research or appointments.

Key Takeaways for hospital marketing and advertising…

The tightly linked relationship between and among the SoLoMo elements is quickly seen in many comScore key takeaways:

  • Total online search has seen growth over the past year;
  • Search Engines are the primary source for local business search, but social network local business search has seen the most growth;
  • Local search continues to get bigger, with 144 percent growth since 2007;
  • With increased smartphone adoption, mobile local search has increased, resulting in a higher demand for time-sensitive, on-the-go need for local business information;
  • Tablet owners are using their tablets more often for their local business search;
  • Social network local business search usage has increased nearly 3x since 2008.

The comScore Local Search Usage Study [pdf available here] looked at shifts in consumer local search behaviors and the use and value of search engines, print and Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), local search sites, emerging media and more. The findings are oriented to business development and are applicable to marketing and advertising of hospitals and healthcare services.

There's a lot more to how, when and why to use and leverage SoLoMo in hospital marketing. Watch for additional posts.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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