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Live Post: VSHMPR Conference – Social Media

Posted Sep 18 2009 11:00pm

Picture 80 The first presentation of the day, titled “Social Media and Public Health,”  is being presented by CRT/tanaka’s Geoff Livingston, senior VP and author of Now Is Gone. Kim Blake of CRT/tanaka is the current president of the Virginia Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations.

Social media is obviously the topic of the day, not just here in Richmond, Virginia, but also in healthcare organizations around the country.

Right now Geoff is focusing on social media and public health, beginning with H1N1 (Swine Flu). He suggest that people check out what the CDC is doing with Social media. The CDC has 25,000 fans on Facebook! Check out their Facebook group at CDC also has sites on MySpace, DailyStrength, CaringBridge, and is active on Twitter. You can follow CDC tweets related to the Flu, or its use of social media.

People in the group asked about monitoring tools. Geoff rightly recommended that they use a variety of tools, given no one tool captures everything. There is no perfect tool out there. In my article on developing a social media marketing plan, I list a number of free tools that can be effective when combined. Contact me and I’ll be glad to send you a copy of the article from Healthcare Marketing Advisor magazine. Monitoring doesn’t have to be expensive. Here’s a paragraph from that article:

Monitor – Develop a plan for actively monitoring social media conversations. It is essential that you know what’s being said about your brand online. You can use Technorati’s daily custom RSS feeds to get quick updates on blogs that mention your hospital’s name. Technorati is the biggest blog search engine, indexing over 60 millions blogs. BackType notifies you when people comment about your hospital on blogs. Receive updates as they happen, or at a the frequency of your choice. BlogPulse is a blog search engine that reports on daily activity relative to your brand.  To monitor conversations on Twitter, try TweetBeep. It keeps track of conversations that mention your hospital, with hourly updates. Another option is to use Twitter Search (, and establish an RSS feed on your query. For monitoring conversations on message boards, try BoardTracker. It lets you monitor forum posts and topics. provides quick snapshots of conversations surrounding your hospital’s brand. You can set up daily email alerts. Facebook Lexicon lets you search your hospital’s name and immediately see how often it is discussed on Facebook users’ walls. MonitorThis allows you to subscribe to more than 20 search engine feeds at the same time. Meanwhile, Digg and Reddit let you search for submitted stories that match your hospital’s name. The most obvious tools are Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts. If you don’t have these set up for your hospital, you should do so immediately. Each service will send you email alerts when your keywords come up in blogs or traditional news reports. Finally, Filtrbox works much like a Google Alert. It searches millions of sources and emails you ranked results for your search terms every day. Take some time and get to know these various tools. Choose the ones that are the least labor intensive and that can most easily be integrated into your team’s daily routine. You can also use these monitoring tools to track conversations about your cross-town rivals. (Source: Dan Dunlop, Developing a Social Media Marketing Plan, Healthcare Marketing Advisor )

One of the things the group asked about is the value of the name “social media.” It is difficult to sell the concept with the social media label. My suggestion would be to talk about “engagement marketing.” It is more descriptive of what is happening, and sounds more business-like. Geoff didn’t mention engagement marketing but said he has been shying away from the “social” label.

Geoff also spoke about the importance of avoiding shiny object syndrome – wanting to jump into every social media platform that looks cool.  The answer is to be strategic and go where your audience is.

This was a good presentation. It is clear from the question posed by the group that we could benefit from a best practices sharing session. Hopefully that will happen as the day progresses.

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer

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