Community Management Best Practices for the Healthcare Marketer

If you manage your hospital’s social media channels, blog, or really any area where your customers interact with your organization online and offline then you, my friend, are a community manager. Unless you work at Dell or McDonald’s, community management is likely only one facet of your role within the marketing department. But it’s a very important one.

Three Main Roles of a Community Manager:

  • Develop Customer Trust – Community managers are advocates for your brand’s customers. They set up and monitor communication channels (such as Facebook for example), listening to your customers’ concerns and responding to their questions. This helps build a trusting relationship between the customer and your brand.
  • Be a Creative Kickstarter – Through their conversations community managers are able to identify needs in the market. Do you get multiple questions about an upcoming flu shot clinic? Then you should check your landing page or calendar of events online to see if the information is easy to find. By identifying the needs of customers, community managers can identify revenue opportunities and potential new resources and services.
  • Be the Expert – This one may not be intuitively sale-oriented, but it is. After developing customer trust, community managers continually share their knowledge through their online interactions by providing the right resources at the right time. This improves your image as a trusted health information resource which can lead to word-of-mouth promotion and other new customer opportunities.

Over the past couple of days I attended the Social Brand Forum 2012 where social media experts shared some great tips and advice. I found the community management best practice tips by Kary Delaria (@KaryD) from Kane Consulting particularly valuable for healthcare marketers. Below are the highlights from the presentation she shared.

Community Management Best Practices

  • Assemble your people. For a community manager to be successful, they need to have an advisory committee who will help guide social media communications. Someone from every department should be involved – from human resources to marketing. And make sure at least three people have access to all the accounts used by the community manager. They can help respond quickly when a high volume of communication is needed.
  • Define the rules. Keep the whole company in the social media loop. It can’t be isolated within marketing. Establish a company-wide social media policy both internally and externally. It will protect you and the company if a situation arises. Your policy should define what employees can and can’t do. It should also establish a voice and tone for your organization.
  • Develop your system. Determine the types of posts your community manager should respond to. Questions? Anger? Praise? Everything? When these posts come in make sure the community manager knows who to turn to for quick answers if they don’t already have them.
  • Set your benchmarks and goals. Figure out where the organization is right now and where it needs to be. Then identify a marker for determining how the actions of a community manager will be deemed successful. Have check points where smaller goals should be reached along the way to the larger overall goal.
  • Plan your content. There is a love/hate relationship with editorial calendars because they aren’t agile, but they do help establish what kind of content can be posted. Be careful when auto-posting content on social media.
  • Monitor conversations. There is an art and science to reputation monitoring online. There are a variety of tools out there to help, from Google Alerts to Radian6. But also know when to disconnect. Have a priority list of what type of alerts should be responded to immediately and which ones can wait.
  • Engage with purpose. Go to where your audience is. Be direct and give them calls to action like ‘Sign Up for October’s Breast Cancer Walk.’ Never lose track of the end goal. Always ask, “What do they need/want right now? What do you want them to do next?”
  • Measure and report what matters. There’s no shortage of data. Based on your goals and benchmarks, outline what information is important to track (web traffic from social channels, keyword-rich mentions, leads/conversion rates from social media, etc.)Then create reports based on who measures the success and include actionable next steps related to strategic goals.
  • Assemble your toolbox. There are many tools available to help. Klout, PeerIndex, SimplyMeasures, HootSuite, HubSpot, Google Analytics, and even Excel are just some of the options available for a community manager to use.
  • Keep survival in mind. Community managers are going to make mistakes. But sometimes the key is in the response to those mistakes. Make sure everyone understands what to do in various situations outlined in the social media policy.

At the end of the day, know that Community Managers just need to have thick skins sometimes because it’s impossible to please everyone. Focus on expanding your audience and connecting with your brand advocates the best you can. Geonetric can help you think more strategically about your goals and identify that sometimes-difficult measurement of success with social media ROI.

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This entry was posted in Best Practices, Social Media, Tradeshow/Conference by Nicole Knoll. Bookmark the permalink.
Nicole Knoll

About Nicole Knoll

AdWords Certified Professional. Social media expert (@nverhey). Market researcher. Nicole wears many hats in her role as digital marketing strategist. A valuable support person for the business development team, she is always ready to bring new ideas to the table and lends her expertise in emerging media to marketing campaigns. She also coordinates Geonetric’s social media accounts, webinars, and tradeshow events. Nicole received her BA in English from the University of Iowa with a minor in business administration. She is a three-time American Advertising Award winner and a devoted volunteer for Dance Marathon and Operation Overnight.

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