March 1, 2012

Launching a new brand, digitally


Poudre Valley Health System (an MCCSM member) and University of Colorado Hospital announced on Jan. 31 they had combined to form a new organization, University of Colorado Health.

In preparation for the announcement, the marketing teams from each organization developed a launch plan, channels and content. Goals were to:

  • build awareness about the new organization/brand, which we would measure with views and impressions;
  • foster engagement, which we would measure with retweets, mentions, shares and subscriptions.

Content created for the launch included information about the new organization, benefits for patients, leadership, frequently asked questions. From there we created:

  • A website using to serve as a place to post in-depth information about the new organization, as well as press releases and other updates and build subscribers. The website was built in-house and was unpublished until shortly before launch.
  • A Twitter account @UColoradoHealth to listen, collect feedback and post updates about the new organization, as well as cross-promote the new website and other social channels. The Twitter account had been live but dormant; branding and a description were added the night before launch.
  • A Facebook page to build brand loyalty, listen, collect feedback and post updates about the new organization. The Facebook page was unpublished until early the morning of launch. Based on Poudre Valley Health System’s existing page, the expectation was that employees would be the first to like the page, creating a valuable place to provide employee communication.
  • A Google+ page to collect feedback, listen, build brand loyalty and boost SEO on Google. The page was created the morning of launch because, unlike Facebook, Google+ does not allow for pages to be hidden upon creation.

The more results (shown below) I collected, the more I wondered what really had value. Was one subscriber to the website/blog worth more than 80,000 Twitter impressions? What was the value of a Twitter mention compared to a Facebook like? Was the value really in the simple fact that I could measure all those things? More on that in a moment.

The team posted original content to the new social media outlets and used existing channels on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to share and amplify the message with existing followers. The team used Hootsuite and SproutSocial to post and monitor shares and mentions on social media channels; Google Analytics and WordPress to track views on websites; and Tweetreach to gauge Twitter impressions.


Launch-day metrics looked like this:


  • University of Colorado Health website views: 6,208 views
  • Subscribers to new website: 20
  • Press release views on Poudre Valley Health System website: 881 views
  • Press release views on University of Colorado Hospital website: 150 (Not posted until late p.m. Tuesday)


  • Impressions for “University of Colorado Health”: 103,501 impressions for 57,117 users based on 83 tweets and 65 retweets.
  • @UColoradoHealth mentions: 8
  • @UColoradoHealth retweets: 39
  • @pvhsnews mentions: 8
  • @pvhsnews retweets: 10

Facebook (University of Colorado Health)

  • Likes: 61
  • People talking about this: 13
  • Daily viral reach: 538

Lessons learned

1. What does it all mean?

It may be hard to call this a lesson learned when many of the questions remain unanswered. I would say the lesson learned is to be more specific about the behavior you’re trying to influence rather than the metrics needed to prompt that behavior.

Shortly after the University of Colorado Health launch, I had this email discussion with an area marketing and PR group about social stats:

If you wanted people to reduce water use and you were going to go old-fashioned and mail 80,000 letters encouraging people to do so, you wouldn't set your goal at the number of letters mailed -- you'd set it at whether you reduced water use. Same for social media.

In my earlier example, if my single web/blog subscriber completes the action I've asked of them (view a specific page, tell their friends good things about our new organization, etc) but my 50,000 Twitter impressions don't yield that action, my 1 blog follower is more valuable. From that perspective, adding follower/view goals isn't really as important as setting goals for the behavior your trying to influence and then measuring which media helped you best meet those goals. That last piece -- ability to measure with great granularity -- is where digital media just about kills everything else and thus makes it so valuable.

Maybe you’re trying to generate subscribers. Maybe you’re trying to prompt healthy eating. Either way, the result is the goal. Metrics can help you tweak tactics for next time.

2. Test, test, test. Then prepare for the unexpected.

  • Using Hootsuite’s bulk uploader to schedule tweets didn’t work despite following the example set in the bulk uploader template, though we learned that lesson the day before launch and adjusted.
  • Shortly after turning on the website – and with just 30 minutes until the announcement -- the main module on the website was displaying a 404 error. A couple of tweaks fixed it, though it’s unclear what the problem actually was.

3. Rethink the standard email distribution list.

  • In hindsight, we should have assembled a list of Twitter and Google+ users we wanted to see and potentially amplify our message. We had the usual email list of press and industry contacts, and we used hashtags to get the announcement and followup messages to certain communities on Twitter and Google+, but having a list of targeted Twitter users could have helped spread the message faster.

What do you think? Did we hit the mark? Miss it? What lessons have others learned?

Kevin Darst is the director of marketing and communications for Poudre Valley Health System.

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Launching a new brand, digitally
Launching a new brand, digitally | Mayo Clinic Social Media Network
Poudre Valley Health System (an MCCSM member) and University of Colorado Hospital announced on Jan.

Choose a message to share 
Launching a new brand, digitally
Launching a new brand, digitally | Mayo Clinic Social Media Network
Poudre Valley Health System (an MCCSM member) and University of Colorado Hospital announced on Jan.

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