As recently as November 2010, Ed Bennett, Director of Web Strategy for the University of Maryland Medical System, was reporting via his Hospital Social Network List that nearly 900 hospitals were utilizing some form of social media tool. Here’s the breakdown:
Facebook – 701
Twitter – 662
YouTube – 437
LinkedIn – 431
Blogs – 106
What’s surprising isn’t that Facebook tops the list but that so few hospitals have established blogs as a communication device. Now, let’s be honest – it certainly takes more time and resources to build, maintain and monitor a blog than it does to set up a Facebook page or Twitter account. But let’s look at the value proposition.
With Twitter, you’re limited to 140 characters at a time to relay your message. With blogging, the sky’s the limit. Yes, you can send quick tweets regarding everything from “How to handle a burn?” to your new internship program, but blogging would do that and more.
If Facebook is the best social media tool to demonstrate your hospital’s personality, then what better way to extend that positioning within the community than by a well-constructed, well-thought out blog? During this economic downturn, where consumers are less likely to utilize hospital services because of cost considerations, providing them with useful, free information is a benefit to all involved.
For the 800 or so hospitals who have embraced social media in some form or fashion, but who haven’t taken to blogging just yet, I implore you to reconsider. Building customer/patient relations begins well before an individual enters your doors at a time of need. Fostering a positive, trusting relationship can start today. Become that online resource and voice of healthcare knowledge within your community today… and blog away!
If you’re a marketing management professional for a hospital or hospital system, let us know whether you’ve set up a blog and how it’s been received.