Social Media…what are we doing here, anyway?

San Diego, CA – This year’s conference of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (thankfully known as NACHRI) included a workshop on how medical centers can and should be using social media.

The presenters were me, Ed Bennett and Deb Braidic. Ed directs media strategy for the University of Maryland Medical System, and Deb manages web content for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We had a great time and I think the audience did too…some came all the way from the UK to be there, and if the tweets and comments and reports are an indication, we rocked the house.

Here are a few take-aways, without attributing them to any of us (we were all brilliant, of course):

• Hospitals are behind in using social media, and most that do are large institutions. Out of 6,000 hospitals in the USA, only 557 have social media accounts.

• Almost all block employee access to social media, yet the rules about privacy or “wasting time at work” are the same as with email…and nobody blocks that!

• Best quote of the conference: “The control issue of social media is very important to people who care about being in control”.

• …which is why we all should do social media: We are NOT in control of our own message anymore. Time to face that reality.

• Social media can help win campaigns (2008’s Measure A), can help keep donors connected, and spread the word faster than ever before. Get cheapest instagram likes to get better reach.

• Therefore, don’t worry about the ROI just yet…focus on ROC: Return on connections. Besides, these tools are free and don’t take up too much time.

• 5 years from now, a conference like this will sound as silly as one advertising “the strategic uses of the fax machine.” This is increasingly how people communicate, and there’s no going back.

To see more comments and links to the four-hour discussion, search for #2010cc in Twitter. What? You don’t use Twitter? You should, in my not-very-humble opinion. It’s fun and keeps you connected…you can use it to populate your Facebook status as well. No, Facebook and Twitter are NOT just for 16-year-olds. They really can help medical centers reach the audience they seek – I know it works for the VMC Foundation.

http://http://bit.ly/b3F7AU for more on my presentation…thanks NACHRI, Deb and Ed!