On September 25th I’ll be in St. Petersburg, Florida speaking to a regional healthcare marketing interest group that is part of the American Marketing Association (AMA). They’ve asked me to share my perspective on healthcare marketing as community building. I am going to ask the attendees to forget what they think they know about social media. So many organizations have deployed these “social” tools but are using them as platforms for pushing content at consumers (as we have done with traditional media) – rather than for engaging with and listening to these important constituents.
My message is that if these professionals were to look at marketing as community building, it would significantly change the way in which they use these digital channels. Frankly, it would change the way they do their jobs overall. These digital platforms that are ideal for two way communication. Yes, your content is important and members of these communities will value it, particularly if it is delivered within an environment where meaningful conversations are taking place and information is being exchanged. Within these platforms, it is up to the marketer to create an environment where visitors are comfortable sharing information, asking questions, and participating in conversations. That doesn’t happen regularly on most hospital Facebook pages.
The truth is that online community building is not an easy thing. It take nurturing and dedication. In my opinion, the online community manager role should be an essential function within a hospital’s marketing department. That is something new for most hospital marketing teams. But the world has changed and continues to change, and we must evolve to be relevant within the new healthcare ecosystem. Just as we now need to add professionals who are adept at analyzing data due to the growth of CRM programs and marketing automation, we also need to add professionals who are adept at facilitating and managing online conversations relevant to our organizations.
Anyway, enough preaching. I’ll save the rest for my presentation in Tampa!