Making sure your social media efforts are “quality”

I entered into an interesting Twitter conversation this evening with @MarkHawker following a RT I’d posted from @EdBennett, an authority on social media (SM) in US health systems. The RT link went to a slide deck presentation discussing the ROI of social media. One of the particular points I found interesting from the slides was, “Instead of ROI, think of ROC – Return On Connections,” a point we’ve been discussing recently at Premier. In fact, our VP of IT devised a formula to better track engagement for the SM channels we’re using rather than the typical number of Twitter followers or blog page views – neither of which provide an accurate picture of reach, interest, or loyalty. Rather, his metrics include a summation and ratio of retweets, blog posts, comments, trackbacks, etc., to give a better picture not only how people are viewing our efforts, but how they’re sharing them with each other.

In any case, Mark replied with a quick note that such ROI results have not been similar in his experience in the UK. To make a long story short (though more than 140 characters), Mark and I exchanged a few e-mails. I’d provided some background on Premier and my impending move next month. He advised that he’s already working in a focus area near and dear to my heart – social media as it relates to healthcare organizations. His work in the area includes writing research papers, reviewing case studies and meeting with folks on the cause. One thing he said that caused some raised-eyebrow interest on my part was, “There’s market for social media people *if*, no offence,  it’s less American and more British i.e. focus on quality and not quantity.”

My first thought was quality, vis a vis healthcare performance. Then I realized he meant content.  Oh.

Wait…what?

Is it truly common perception that most US organizations using social media (whether healthcare or otherwise) are using it in exactly the way that I believe to be…well, wrong..?

Lately I’ve worried that in the near future more folks are going to jump on this sinking bandwagon (wait, that didn’t make sense) and use social media as a commercial-y, one-way communication channel to tout new products. Perish the thought! That’s not the intention, in my view. Let’s inform. Let’s connect. Let’s share. But for goodness sake, let’s not talk at people. Like a friend recently said, “The people who are on all of this stuff are pretty tuned in and can sniff out garbage from a mile away.” Maybe everyone should be required to review these ten helpful little pearls on how to avoid being a “twidiot” on Twitter.

While we’re at it, let’s learn from another valuable blog post by Robert Ferguson, entitled “Is listening to patients too risky for healthcare marketers.” In it, he touts the need to begin a patient-centric insight gathering program. “Insight gathering is about listening and asking intelligent questions.” Few people really care if you’re yelling in the virtual world. (Save that for some online Speakers’ Corner.) The first step to involvement is listening.

In the super-succinct words of Maryann Kuzel of Marketing Profs, it’s really just three simple steps: Listen, Participate, and Learn.

Three words. Learn ’em, love ’em, use ’em…

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