As I posted previously, I’m a very big proponent of healthcare IT companies using social media. Plus, as I mention in the column, I think you have to be careful to ensure that the voice of the company is involved in the social media efforts. Otherwise, you’ll lose your authentic voice and your social media efforts will be a fail. The best way to do this is through good training of your staff with smart outsourcing of certain aspects of your social media.
I believe that every healthcare IT and EHR company could benefit from social media, but I don’t think all healthcare IT and EHR companies should do social media. In fact, the company with the wrong culture will see bad results if they start using social media. Here are some issues a company might have that would make them not want to do social media:
Those Who Can’t Commit – If you can’t commit to social media, then don’t start. It’s better to do nothing then to have something laying their half done. For example, a blog should have at least 1 post a week. Anything less and you lose momentum and lose your audience. Twitter should be updated multiple times a week, but more importantly you need to make sure you respond to any relevant @ replies that you receive on Twitter. Don’t underestimate what I call the content beast. No matter how much you think you’re ahead, you’ll be surprised when it needs to get fed again. Be ready to commit to feed it regularly.
Those Overwhelmed by Their Email – This is partially related to the first point, but I think that your ability to manage your email is a good sign of whether you’ll be able to handle social medial or not. Starting into social media ends up adding more and more channels of information to be processed. If you have trouble managing one channel, email, then you’re likely going to feel extremely overwhelmed adding in multiple social media channels. Plus, most of those social media channels leverage email to some extent as well, so it will just make your email abyss even greater.
Those Who Don’t Care About Their Customers – This is a hard one for someone to understand and realize, but a few are self aware enough to realize it. The point is that if you don’t care about your customers to your very core, it will be seen in your communication on social media. I’m sure that most companies will wonder how this is possible because they’re so focused on the customer, but trust me they exist.
Those Who Suck – Sorry I couldn’t think of a better word, but it’s the only one that I think describes these companies. If your company has bad support, a poor sales process, and other related issues you don’t want to be found on social media. Imagine the questions that you’ll get if this is the case and your inability to properly respond to them. It makes for an ugly situation.
Those Who Can’t Take Heat – Some companies can’t take any sort of criticism. Instead of learning from the comments, they get confrontational. Sure, there will be some in social media who may make outlandish statements. Some people can’t resist the urge to start a confrontation. I’m certainly not perfect in this regard, but the best healthcare IT companies are humble in their approach to it. They correct when needed, but appreciate feedback from those who might see the world different than they do. A lot of good can come out of frank social media discussions. It’s not always about being right.
Those Who Drank the Kool-aid and Are Afraid of Those Who Haven’t – I must admit that these people always give me a good laugh. You might know the type of person I’m talking about. They’ve only worked for one company in healthcare IT (or maybe only one company ever) and they’ve been to one too many Ra Ra company meeting where all that they’ve heard is the good side of the story. I actually think social media is great for these people since it will help them to expand their mind. They just shouldn’t be the face of the company social media. I should probably add the other extreme: the long term jaded healthcare IT professional. I actually love these people on Twitter since they provide incredibly valuable insight. Although, you have to be careful having them as the face of the company.
I’m sure we could look at other characteristics that would prevent a company from deciding to participate in social media. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this subject. Some stories would be quite interesting as well.