By Shahid N. Shah HITSphere.

com and The Healthcare IT Guy Blog

Product positioning

Brand-building and increasing visibility Advertising
Product launches Lead generation

Sales communications Maximizing events and trade shows
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Conversations

Engagement

Grass Roots Messaging, Loyalty & Credibility

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Pull customers at their convenience, not push

Nurture leads with superior targeting

Reach Customers Immediate Feedback allows you to fail fast Lower costs, scale based on success
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Social Media in Healthcare is still at an early stage but it’s the right time to start.

If you’re trying to reach customers through social media, make sure they are online. In most cases, the real customers you’re trying to connect with are either not participating online or are just starting to get there. Get some evidence before embarking.
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Sponsored Patient Communities

Examples: Alli Circles (branded), Crohn’s & Me (unbranded, UBC Pharma supporting yet-to-be-launched Cimzia)

What: Give people a way to speak to others with similar problems. Build an engaged and easily accessible focus group.
Why: Targets the community of patients you want to reach and allows you to test marketing messages in a readymade focus group. Metrics: Measure number of members of the community, page views, topics, and threads that are working best.

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Wikis and CMS Medpedia

Examples: Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, American Heart Association

What: Start your own wiki or join an existing one to demonstrate credibility and knowledge, build relationships with patients and providers.
Why: Allows faster release of medical content, easier access to “trusted sources”. Metrics: Measure number of readers, page views, and comments to see which articles are working best.

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Blogging through others (as guests) Patient Journals

Examples: Diabetes Mine, e Patient Dave, e-patients.net

What: Posting guest articles on existing blogs can gain exposure quickly. Why: Extends the credibility and trust of existing bloggers to you and your products.
Metrics: Measure number of readers, page views, and comments to see which articles are working best.

Risks: Negligible if you choose the right destinations.

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Blogging on your own Corporate Blogging

Example: Beverly Enterprises Inc. "Expert Thinking" What: Engage with patients and customers directly and allow them to learn interactively what services are being offered. Control and advance your message before others do. Why: Allows patients to read what their doctor’s believe. Allows doctors to help patients indirectly. Metrics: Measure number of readers, page views, and comments to see which messages are working best. Risks: Corporate Blogs without a visible staff leading it will not be credible.

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Microblogging Twitter, Laconica

Examples: Lutheran HC, Aurora Health, UNC Health Care What: Fast, easy exposure to the 25 million daily visitors. Put up press releases, emergency alerts. Why: Patients following the healthcare provider receive real-time updates, always keeping them in the loop. Metrics: Measure the number of followers, re-tweets and replies to see who is reading and what they think. Risks: Most traffic is from outside the US and are not healthcare consumers.

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Commercial Social Networking for All Facebook, MySpace

Examples: Emory Healthcare, McKinsey Healthcare, United Healthcare, MS Champions What: Low or no cost exposure to young “connected” audience.

Why: Allows for patients to partake in open discussions, view and share photos, videos and more with each other. Allows for patients to keep up to date with the company’s news as well.
Metrics: Measure the number of friends/fans, the number of wall-posts and comments left on posted items. Risks: Your content is not owned on your own domain.
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Commercial Social Networking for Pros LinkedIn, Plaxo

Examples: Cleveland Clinic, Quest Diagnostics, Fort Healthcare What: Provides “word-of-mouth” advertising on the internet. Patients can recommend companies to each other. Can help with hiring.

Why: Patients can follow what their connections are doing. If one person has a friend that goes to Cleveland Clinic he can refer it to his 35 connections and so on and so forth. Metrics: Measure the size of the network, the connections, and the number of recommendations given by patients.
Risks: Your content is not owned on your own domain.

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Social Networking for Physicians Sermo, Ozmosis

What: Provides “word-ofmouth” advertising by and through physicians. Physicians can recommend companies to each other. Can help with hiring. Why: Physicians can follow what their connections are doing. Companies trusted by one physician get their credibility, trust, loyalty extended to others. Metrics: Measure the size of the network, the connections, and the number of recommendations given by physicians.

Risks: Only physicians can join; “shill” products are ostracized quickly.
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Custom Social Networking Ning, OpenSocial

Examples: Institute of California Bilingual Medical Staffing, Hospital Online Marketing Education What: Allows healthcare groups with specific interests meet and cooperate more effectively with others that share a common interest. Allows custom functionality.

Why: Patients and other similar groups can see what progress others are making in their particular fields. You own your own domain and content.
Metrics: Nings are very similar to Facebook and MySpace pages; Measure the numbers of users in your network, comments made and the amount of interactivity with other users.

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Video Sharing & Screencasts YouTube, Vimeo

Examples: Sentra Healthcare, Sharp Healthcare, UNC Health Care, UI Healthcare, GoInsulin (Sanofi Aventis) What: Video is one of the most effective forms of marketing. Allows for viral spreading similar to e-mails. Use screencasts. Why: Patients can watch informative, helpful videos about problems which directly affect them or their family. Builds credibility quickly and is more “sticky”. Metrics: Measure the number of subscribers to the company’s channel, and comments and ratings on videos. Risks: Be practical, advisory, and informative. Not “advertising”.

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Podcasts & Radio Shows

Examples: Johns Hopkins Medicine Podcasts, Pentagon Web Radio What: Like video, very effective for reaching busy audiences. Allows for viral spreading similar to e-mails.

Why: Patients can hear informative, helpful videos about problems which directly affect them or their family. Builds credibility quickly and is more “sticky” than text. Metrics: Measure the number of subscribers to the company’s podcasts, radio audience, and watch comments and ratings on other sites.
Risks: Be practical, advisory, and informative. Not “advertising”.

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Social Documents Scribd, SlideShare

What: Quick, easy, free online publication of documents, brochures, articles etc. Why: Patients and professionals can learn from their peers’ online papers. Builds credibility quickly, provides great SEO with proper linking. Metrics: Measure the number of times a document or slideshow is viewed and downloaded, how many comments it receives and it’s rating. Risks: Forgetting about copyrights and IP ownership can be dangerous.

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Virtual Worlds Second Life

Example: IBM What: Millions of people use Second Life on a daily basis. Provides for easy, cheap, interactive and fun exposure. Why: Players create their own Personal Health Records which are incorporated into electronic medical records and “play” through their second lives using IBM’s open-standard-based health information exchange technology. Metrics: Measure the number of visitors to the Healthcare Island each day

Risks: Be practical, advisory, and informative. Not “advertising”.
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Video Games

Examples: Kaiser Permanente, USDA, California Nurses Association What: Games reach all ages of potential clients. They make the patient feel less like the company is out to get him and more like the company is there to help him. Why: Games allow for people to have fun while learning. This Kaiser game, for example, teaches people how to eat right in a fun way. Metrics: Measure the number of pageviews and the number of users that visit the company website after playing a game.

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Online Advertising

Pay Per Click


• •

Search Engine Optimization
Banners Skyscrapers


• • •

Blog and site sponsorships
Directories Pop-ups and Pop-downs

Bridge and Interstitial (page through) Unicast (infomercial on the web) Contextual
Takeover (large initial page) E-mail sponsorships

• •
• •

Patient community sponsorships
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Search Advertising AdSense, AdCenter

Examples: Kaiser Permanente, eHealthInsurance, and Many More What: Easy exposure on the world’s most visited website, Google. Also shows up in emails and other keyword based views.

Why: Patients find exactly what their looking for by searching for what they need.
Metrics: Measure the number of clicks on each ad and use Google’s provided tools to measure the amount of time the user spends on your website. Risks: Sponsored ads aren't’ as trusted as organic results.
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Social Media Contests Various Techniques

Example: Galen Institute What: Users submit all content. The average person is helping you advertise and sometimes the average person is the most persuasive person.

Why: Patients convey their feelings on a subject, free, public healthcare in this example, and a few are rewarded for their efforts.
Metrics: Measure the amount of content submitted and the amount that that content is being viewed. Contest Winner: tinyurl.com/pz78ld

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Social Bookmarking Digg, PeerClip

What: Quick, easy, free link sharing for your own content.

Why: Improves SEO, allows for people to find links that otherwise wouldn’t have been found directly on a search engine. Metrics: Measure the number of times a link is viewed and the ratings it receives – easy of telling what content people like.

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Listservs and Online Discussion Boards

Examples: MySears Community, Healthboards

What: Old school but very effective means of communication and Google and search engines love them. Easily sell products without losing credibility (“help” online).
Why: Nothing new to learn for patients and providers that use them; easy to use and works through normal emails (“push”) as well as online (“pull”) Metrics: Track views and replies to see which topics are resonating.

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E-mail Newsletters PDF, ConstantContact

Examples: Newton-Wellesley Hospitla, Syosset Hospital

What: Old school but one of the only guaranteed mechanisms of viewing your content because of “push” capability. Why: Nothing new to learn for patients and providers that use them; easy to use for anyone (old style marketers or new media marketers).
Metrics: Track views and replies to see which topics are resonating.

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Online Calendars Google

Examples: What: Underused but very effective event marketing technique (anything can become an “event”). Combine with Tweets and blogs to market the events.

Why: Increases engagement and loyalty.
Metrics: Track views and replies to see which events are resonating.

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Mashups & APIs Mashable, Mashery

Examples: HHS, FDA, CDC. What: Share your content on other people’s site; create badges, widgets, and other useful components. Build calculators, micro-applications, and other customized functionality.

Why: Much more “sticky” than typical text content; by adding utility into the mix (like calculators or mini-apps) your credibility increases.
Metrics: Page views, number of “insertions” of your content into other sites; clicks from other sites onto yours through badges and other functions.

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Establish Goals

Identify Resources

Experiment with Free tools

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Identify tangible benefits Find out who’s in the way

Socialize and communicate a pragmatic approach

Lay out metrics and how to measure success

Plan small pilots and execute to gather results

Social media is a continuous conversation and therefore is a long-running experiment.
There is no “end date”.
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Getting something wrong

Regulatory or Legal

Empowering employees

Real risks are minimal and the rewards outweigh them.
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• • • • • •

Conversations and passion Corporate image Engagement and satisfaction Loyalty and interaction Trust and authority Brand awareness

Quantitative
• • • • • Traffic (increase in PageRank) Sales ranks (new vs. existing) Leads generated “Mentions” on other sites Minutes per day customer “speaks” to us

• What’s relevant to your business? • Will you be able to set meaningful goals and measure them? • In the end what do you want out of social media?

Qualitative

Results

If you’re trying to sell something, the primary objective is to get people to your website. Any campaign not focused on getting click-throughs is flawed.
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Internal

External Firms

Freelancers

• Find those that are already “Social “ • Look for volunteers

• Do your current vendors support social media?

• CrowdSpring • RentAGeek

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