by Jenn Riggle
I read a great article by Brian Solis this week about the science of retweets. The article got me thinking about why hospitals don’t use the Twitter retweet function more often.
According to Ed Bennett’s most recent list of hospitals engaging in social media, 297 U.S. hospitals have established Twitter accounts. Yet when you look at these accounts, one thing is readily apparent – most don’t understand the power of the retweet. Instead of using Twitter to engage with the community and to humanize health care, they’re using it as a broadcasting medium to promote their service lines and extend their brand. And when you look at their Twitter stream, more often than not, they’re doing all of the talking.
Why is this? One reason is that not all consultants seem to understand social media and the value it brings to health care . My client shared with me an August 12, 2009 Advisory Board article that pooh-poohed the value of the retweet function saying: “By retweeting…hospitals missed an opportunity to connect the story to a service offering or a call to action. While retweets can be an easy way to boost the number of messages sent to your Twitter following, you’ll want to be selective in order to retain your own voice with your audience, avoid ‘content spam,’ and maximize interest in your specific institution.”
Hospitals that feel this way are never going to harness the power of the social media. Here are five reasons hospitals should retweet more:
- Give credit where credit is due: If someone says something interesting or compelling, you should retweet it. Not only does this acknowledge the person or the organization for saying something noteworthy, but it also allows you to share it with your followers.
- Prove you’re not a robot: Too many hospitals are talking to themselves – sending out information about their service lines and their clinicians, but not listening to what their followers are saying. By retweeting others, you demonstrate that you’re not a robot and are reading the tweets of others and finding what they’re saying is relevant and worth sharing.
- Develop a closer connection with the community: We all know health care is local, so it’s important for hospitals to show they’re a member of the community they serve. By retweeting area residents or sharing information about things that are happening in their community, you can become a community cheerleader and show that you care about what happens in your community.
- Serve as a healthcare resource: Hospitals are a major healthcare resource for the community, so it’s important they share health information with their followers. By retweeting healthcare authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control or the New England Journal for Medicine, you’re sharing important health information with your community and becoming the place people can go to for health care information.
- Provide consumers with what they want ? health information: While hospitals want to promote their service lines, consumers don’t want to read a steady stream of information about what your doctors are doing or how many times a doctor has performed a specific procedure. You can share this information, but you should also provide consumers with what they want – health information. By retweeting health information and providing links to where people can go to find additional information, you’re providing real value.
Hospitals need to realize that they can’t just talk about themselves – they need to provide information that is relevant to their community and their followers. Retweeting others is a great way to do this.