At this time of year, children across America are trying on costumes and making the all important decision – Who do they want to be for Halloween. Come to think of it, it’s also a good time for hospital communications departments to step out of their comfort zones and decide what sort of personality their organization should have online.
Why? Because social media is less about brand and more about personal engagement. When you’re on social networking sites, you can’t just repeat your organization’s key messages because people will stop listening. Instead, you need to hear what others are saying, engage in dialogue and provide relevant information.
Ideally, hospitals should have an individual or a team of people who contribute to Twitter and respond to questions on Facebook. But with budget cuts and limited Internet access in hospitals, this may not be feasible. So instead, they need to think about their organization’s brand identity and how this will translate online.
For example, your hospital may be known for innovation, combining high tech with high touch, being a trusted member of the community, or providing the care you need where you need it. However, none of these brands attributes will help you decide what sort of voice you should use on Twitter or whether you should post a video of employees singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Since women, long thought to be the gatekeepers of their families’ health, are one of the most important audiences for hospitals, it seems only natural that many hospitals would want to have a nurturing female voice. But you need to ask yourself specific questions, such as:
- Are you the perky elementary school teacher who wears festive holiday sweaters and educates the community about health issues?
- Or are you a grandmotherly-type person who bakes cookies, provides common sense health information and puts a bandage on a child’s knee when he skins it?
- Maybe you’re a personal trainer who encourages the community to get exercise and eat healthy?
- How about the helpful nextdoor neighbor people go to when they need a cup of sugar or help starting the lawn mower?
- Or are you the multi-tasking working mom who’s packs school lunches at 2 a.m. and tries to be everywhere at once? (Guess which one I am?)
This can be a new beginning for your organization as you shape your identify and find new ways to talk to your employees and your community. Just don’t be afraid to try something new.