As of October 2011, there were 1,229 hospitals across the US using social media i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and blogs (Source: http://ebennett.org/hsnl/)
Some of them don’t appear to be serious at all – in fact I question their commitment to the healthcare social media conversation and wonder if it’s just a ‘feel good, let’s be cool’ type of thing.
But Dekalb Medical is not among them. This is one of the few organizations that are sincerely embracing new media in order to connect with the people they serve. Sure, they still have much to learn, but it is clear that they’re making a genuine effort to engage their audiences in interesting ways.
Dekalb is stunning on Facebook
Dekalb has a small Facebook page with 509 fans. But everyone knows that big fan numbers don’t mean that the page is healthy. The ‘people talking about‘ is the statistic to watch if you want to know how well a Facebook page is interacting with people.
For an accurate picture take the ‘people talking about this’ number and divide by the total number of fans. A healthy Facebook page should have at least 1% – 5% (or more for greater interaction) – (Source: Social Media Examiner). At the time of this writing Dekalb’s Facebook page had 78 people talking about them to give them a 15% interaction rate! That’s one of the highest numbers I’ve seen on any Facebook page, let alone a healthcare organization – stunning performance!
Dekalb on YouTube
Of all the social media channels out there, I think YouTube is perfect for hospitals because it allows them to tell powerful stories from different perspectives, and to influence the general sentiment of their audience. So it’s always great to see the hospitals that ‘get it’ and are taking advantage of this popular platform to reach their communities.
Dekalb is using YouTube to tell engaging patient stories of battles won, challenges overcome, and lives restored.
Dekalb on Twitter
As of this writing, the Twitter button on Dekalb’s website was not linked to their Twitter account. I had to do a search of ‘dekalb medical’ on Twitter.com to find their profile. This is a quick and easy fix and there’s no reason why the two (website and Twitter account) shouldn’t be integrated. In this case, Dekalb is missing an opportunity to connect with a potentially huge Twitter audience.
Dekalb on Flickr
They have almost 400 pictures on Flickr illustrating different themes, moods and sentiments in their organization e.g. holiday parties, a ribbon cutting ceremony, several medical events, a re-union dinner, their 50th anniversary celebration and many more.
I think Dekalb has a very strong and appealing Flickr profile that speaks volumes about the kind of atmosphere one can expect to find at their facilities – dedicated, hardworking, professional, progressive, diverse, friendly and fun-loving! Pictures are an excellent way to showcase the brand essence of an organization.
Dekalb Medical does not have a blog on their website. I did a Google search for ‘dekalb medical blog’ and found that their CEO started a blog (or newsletter – it’s hard to tell) back in March 2011.
They have the right intentions but the problem is that this blog resides outside the Dekalb Medical website and there’s no apparent integration (or connection) between the two. The way I was able to make the connection was of course the obvious reference to Dekalb Medical, and the logo on the corner of the blog. A blog should always be part of your organization’s website so that your audience is attracted to the hub of your business rather than driving them away from your site.
Dekalb Medical is showing a praiseworthy effort to join the online conversation and attract patient communities through their social media content.
- They have a healthy Facebook page with impressive interaction levels
- They’re on Twitter although they need to integrate their profile with their website
- They have some stunning illustrations of the Dekalb Medical atmoshphere on Flickr
- They have started a blog but could use a solid content strategy to improve results
There’s a lesson here for other healthcare organizations thinking about social media. You don’t have to wait until you’ve figured it all out, you just have to start. In doing so, you establish your online presence, start making connections, solving problems and making a positive impact in people’s lives.
Over to you: Has your organization established an online presence yet? How are you tapping into the social media conversation like Dekalb Medical is? Please share your thoughts below.