I’m currently attending the 20th Annual PRSA Health Academy meeting in Washington DC. The opening speaker is Josh Bernoff, Forrester analyst and Groundswell author.
Bernoff mentioned that in times of trouble, word of mouth is the most important factor in decision making. So, how do you put together a strategy for applying social media technology to our healthcare communications challenges?
Chasing the technology is a losing proposition. Successful social media strategy begins with clear objectives. This seems like a no-brainer – without objectives, you rarely accomplish anything meaningful. That said, the current infatuation with much of social media is driven by a general “cool factor” and some fear of missing the boat on the next big thing.
The Groundswell book lays out tools and an approach to getting started:
POST – People/Objectives/Strategy/Technology
- People – Assess where you customers are. Groundswell has a methodology for identifying your audience in terms of social media participation – it’s called the social technographics ladder. It also offers tools for assigning audiences to roles. An example of this for healthcare can be seen in this recent article.
- Research –> Listening
- Marketing –> Talking
- Sales –> Energizing
- Support –> Supporting
- Development –> Embracing
- Strategy – Some examples:
- Tampons: You can’t just create a community for tampons. P&G created BeingGirl.com, sponsored by their products. It includes some “ask the expert” functions.
- Alli (GSK): They are doing some good community work. They offer a pre-moderated community and check every comment before posting.
- Reyataz – HIV: They created an online social network to change their perception to be seen as supportive of the HIV community.
- Gardasil – Merck vaccine for HPV: Some controversy around this, so they created a Facebook page. 50,000 friends. They feel it creates a perception of market support for their efforts.
- Inspire – Support with a unique model: Inspire.com is free to organizations – it allows them to set up communities. Financial model: Pharma companies pay to recruit members into clinical trials.
- Technology – It should be your last consideration. Find which solutions match your strategy.
Most of this is not revolutionary, but Bernoff provides a good research-based framework around which to build your strategy for engagement. It begins with where your audience is communicating and the roles they play in their communities. There’s no better place to begin than that. Great kickoff for the conference.