By Jenn Riggle
Saving lives is serious business. But when it comes to social media, it’s true that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.
Why? Because people don’t want to hear hospitals just talk about their quality programs or be reminded that they’re getting older and could get sick. Instead, they want to know what they can do to be healthy.
Social media gives hospitals an opportunity to find new ways to present this information. Asking people to get involved and putting a smile on their face are more effective in reaching people than citing awards your hospital has received. Social media gives hospitals the opportunity to develop a voice and set themselves apart from its competitors.
Here are some examples of hospital social media campaigns that dared to be different:
Do you remember the Pink Glove Dance video? Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Oregon got its employees dancing to Jay Sean’s R&B song “Down” to raise awareness about breast cancer. It’s hard not to smile when watching the video.
- The video went viral and has had 12.9 million views. Medline Industries, the maker of the pink gloves, also created to a sequel video, which included 4,000 healthcare workers across the country and breast cancer survivors.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center used humor to remind people to get a colonoscopy. Its “Healthy Is… learning about colonoscopy“ campaign included e-cards and an e-book called “Everywhere I look I see your colon” with photos of everyday objects like pipes, spaghetti and an electrical cord that people could personalize and send to loved ones.
- The results: After two months, 205 e-cards were sent and 185 more colonoscopy appointments were made than the same time the previous year
UCSF Medical Center launched a social media fundraising competition to raise money for the new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. One of the competing organizations, Zynga and FarmVille sold special candy cane seeds to raise money for the new hospital.
- As a result of its effort, UCSF raised over $1 million to build its new children’s hospital.
What do these three programs have in common?
They didn’t focus on new technology or services: Instead, these campaigns brought a sense of humor and fun to the serious subject of cancer screenings. No one wants to get a colonoscopy or mammogram, but these initiatives helped to make them less scary.
They captured people’s hearts: The Pink Glove Dance got people talking and before you knew it, other hospitals and high schools were posting their own pink glove dances. Jay Sean even performed a live concert and distributed the gloves so that 17,000 people performed the pink glove dance. Talk about going viral!
They did the unexpected: Hospital capital campaigns typically target large businesses and affluent people in a community. That’s what’s great about the FarmVille selling candy cane seeds. It was a simple way for regular people, whether they live in the community or not, to make a donation.
Hospital trade magazines are filled with photos of men in suits. But compelling social media campaigns aren’t about suits and service lines. They’re about finding new ways to make being healthy fun and reaching out to people in unexpected ways.