The AMA’s American Medical News carried an excellent article recently titled: Hospitals' new specialist: Social media manager. It told the tale of how various hospitals—such as Swedish Medical Center (Seattle) and Mayo Clinic—are hiring staff members dedicated exclusively to social and interactive media.
What's more, other hospitals, health systems, and medical practices either have someone responsible for Facebook, Twitter and other online communications tools, or are in the process of recruiting new people for the job.
The article suggests that this is the beginning of a trend in hospital healthcare marketing, advertising and public relations. It may be a trend, but it’s not exclusive to hospitals. Social media and online tools are widely used in physician groups, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, clinics and many other healthcare companies and organizations.
If you’re thinking about the need to hire a social media manager, here are four things you may want to have in place first.
1. Determination of Need. Is this a full time position, a part time position or an added responsibility for existing staff? Have you calculated (in dollars and cents) how the expense will be justified through hard-dollars Return-on-Investment or improve quality of care? Will this activity generate new patients, additional referrals or new revenue streams?
2. Written Position Description. Be specific about the duties, responsibilities and reporting chain for this position to clearly define everyone’s expectations. Social media is new, it’s evolving and the position description might change over time, but the work description can’t be vague or general or it’s doomed to fail.
3. Measurable Goals. What is to be accomplished and how will progress (or lack of it) be quantified and reported. Who is accountable? Establish defined benchmarks, periodic performance reviews and allow for adjustments and course corrections as needed.
4. A Social Media Plan. Simply having a Facebook page or a Twitter account is not a plan. How do the social media elements support the overall marketing and communications goals?
The American Medical News item is linked here as further reference. And if you need some help creating a social media marketing approach that’s profitable, read more on our website.