Attention Healthcare Marketers: You’ve Lost Control of the Conversation

ATT vs TMobile on Twitter

Take off your “work hat” for a moment.

Let’s pretend you’re having a routine physical at your local medical clinic. The day has come, so you drive to the clinic, follow all of the instructions you’re given, and proceed with the appointment.

Unfortunately, you had to wait an extra 30 minutes and when you finally got in, you felt rushed by the staff at the clinic. Your doctor was pleasant, but rushed, and the billing situation afterwards left a lot to be desired.

And then? You do it. You let your entire social media following know just how disappointing your experience was. From Facebook to Twitter, your message knows no bounds. Oh, and like many savvy social media users, you were sure to name the clinic and tag them in all of your posts too.

You wouldn’t be alone. These days when someone has a poor experience with a brand or organization, the first thing they fire up is their smartphone.

The Conversation Doesn’t Belong to the Organization

In the past, you may have complained to some close family and/or friends about your experience, but today patients have all sorts of painful options. Painful for the organizations providing care, that is.

It’s painful because they can’t control what a user will say online. Right or wrong, the message gets out. At Geonetric, we’ve helped clients navigate all types of sticky social media situations or online reviews that aren’t quite so glowing. Not because they do a poor job, but because these types of situations are inevitable.

Join the Conversation!

Put your “work hat” back on for these next sections.

The old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” rings true here. Social media isn’t about pushing your marketing messages. It’s about joining the conversation. Through the process of conversation with your community, you may be able to do some marketing as well. But that’s not the primary focus.

Being helpful and apologizing for a poor experience is a great first step. If offering some incentive to the patient to make things right makes sense, then that could be an option too. At the very least you can acknowledge that things didn’t go as they should have and that your organization will do their best to make the next visit a positive one.

Hearing directly from the organization shows the patient that you care. You notice when there is a problem, and you’re willing to own that.

How Not to Respond

This wouldn’t be a fun blog post without at least one horrible example of how not to respond on social media.

In the instance of AT&T and T-Mobile, they started arguing over a customer who had posted on Twitter. The battle played out publicly and, in my opinion, didn’t make either company look all that great.

The lesson? Realize that all correspondence you’re having with a user online is likely to be (or become) public. Be professional, helpful and human. The only thing worse than not engaging with users online is engaging them with canned responses.

The Challenge

It can be a challenging place out there on social media, but you have the power to build a strong online brand for your organization. You may not be in full control of the conversation at all times, but there is great opportunity to be helpful to your community even when things didn’t go as planned.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment at my medical clinic. I hope it goes okay…

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This entry was posted in Best Practices, Marketing, Social Media by Casey Hansen. Bookmark the permalink.
Casey Hansen

About Casey Hansen

Casey possesses extensive social media experience and expertly monitors trends in healthcare social media usage. He uses his industry insight and creative ideas to help Geonetric clients create social media strategies that increase brand awareness and improve loyalty. In addition, Casey also works with clients to develop customized search engine optimization services and search engine marketing campaigns. He reviews analytics and helps clients understand the impact social media, SEO, and SEM have on their overall online marketing efforts.

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