Twitter: Not Just Tweeting for Tweet’s Sake

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on July 20, 2011

Developing a Meaningful Twitter Strategy Isn’t as Hard as Healthcare Companies Are Making It

You just got a call from the C-suite and they said that you need to get your product up on Tweeter, YouBook and FaceTube by the end of the week. In a state of panic you asked “Why?” and they responded in a dumbfounded manner with, “Because everyone else is.”

In an era when it seems like every company/product is expected to have a social media presence in order to “engage” with customers, it’s important to ground yourself (and your team) in the reason WHY your company or brand is setting up a social presence. And if your customers won’t benefit from the WHY question about your social media strategy, then you probably shouldn’t be venturing into social media…at least not yet. It’s #that_easy.

In a tightly restricted regulatory environment, many healthcare companies have resorted to building out social media channels with no clear strategy or with no benefit to the audience they are targeting.

They simply use their Twitter feed to syndicate content that few people read and even fewer find remotely interesting and think that they are “engaging” with their customers. But hey, since their content is in the social media ether and they have 225 followers (no need to highlight the fact that 90% of them are industry recruiters), they can check off the box on their to-do list next to “establish social media channel” and feel like they’ve accomplished something with their artificial engagement.

If this is you, the good news is that it’s not too late to turn the tide. To start, the next time you rush to tweet a headline from the company press release in Twitter’s “What’s Happening?” box, I would encourage you instead to do several searches about the disease your company is vested in and read about what patients are talking about. You’ll be surprised about what you find. We are every day.

One of the things you may be surprised about is the amount of inaccurate disease information on Twitter. In one of the largest social media and health research projects imaginable, recently featured by NPR’s Health Blog SHOTS, researchers from Johns Hopkins examined over 1.5 million health tweets to answer their open-ended research question, “What public health information can be learned from Twitter?”

One of the many answers they got wasn’t what they expected – they came to the realization that many perceptions about health issues on Twitter were, in fact, wrong. (Read more about their findings in You Are What You Tweet: Analyzing Twitter for Public Health.)

This gives healthcare companies a great place to start: informing the mis/uninformed. And who is more qualified to correct the misinformation on twitter than those with more troves of research, data and knowledge about diseases than the general public could possibly conceive? That’s right – you.

Providing objective, disease-focused resources to educate uninformed patients via Twitter is one of the simplest and most beneficial offerings you can provide to patients. It will allow you to actually engage (notice the remove of the quotes) with them in a mutually beneficial manner and you’ll have a justifiable answer to the WHY question for the C-suite when they evaluate the ROI on the social media spend.

So who’s doing it right? Learn from @pfizer_news, @Boehringer, and @Roche_com, and then figure out your own answer to WHY.

By: Scott Shadiow

Account Director

Find me on: Twitter
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