Developing a Patient and Staff Social Advocacy Platform

It's not news to anyone working professionally in social media that organic reach for brands has been declining for several years. Whereas previously a large percentage of Facebook or Twitter followers would see any particular post on a brand page or account, today that reach has declined to something in the 1-3 percent range.

Great content can help fight the organic decline to some extent: if the tiny fraction of your followers who see a post engage with it—and especially if they share or retweet it—your reach can be significantly higher. And if your content isn't engaging, even paid promotion will have reduced impact. Compelling content remains essential.

Organizations typically get their good content in front of more people through one of these approaches:

  1. Paid promotion through the social platforms' advertising offerings, and
  2. Advocacy programs, mainly involving employees.

While some level of paid promotion is a new reality, the math for an advocacy program—engaging stakeholders to voluntarily promote content—is potentially compelling.

For Mayo Clinic, a typical blog post shared on our Facebook page, which has just over a million followers, may reach 30,000 people organically.

Reach among friends for users' Facebook posts is significantly higher than that of brand pages, with one study putting the figure at 35 percent. That was five years ago, but lately Facebook is giving friends' posts more emphasis, not less.

So if the average Facebook user has 338 friends, and if 35 percent of those friends would see any given post, an average blog post shared by an advocate would reach about 120 people.

That means 250 individual users (0.4 percent of our 64,000 staff) sharing a story on Facebook would reach as many people as an organic post on our Facebook page.

Mayo Clinic ChampionsUnlike many other industries, in health care the universe of advocates is not limited to employees, but also may include patients and their family members. A Facebook share by 0.03 percent of our Mayo Clinic patients would reach significantly more users than our average organic post.

Several vendors offer advocacy platforms, mainly aimed at getting employees involved in sharing. Examples include Social Chorus, Hootsuite AmplifyLinkedIn Elevate, SocialToaster, PostBeyond, Bambu, Everyone Social, and Smarp.

As we developed our Mayo Clinic advocacy program, we wanted it to be suitable for both staff and patients, and also to avoid any per-user license fees.

We also wanted it to be integrated within the online communities we're building, particularly our Mayo Clinic Connect patient community and our professional community, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, and to have it be embeddable in other WordPress-based sites as well.

I'm excited to share what we've developed. In future posts, I'll outline:

  • Customizations of our Mayo Clinic Champions advocacy program for patient and staff audiences,
  • Benefits of an advocacy program for users as well as for the sponsoring organization, and
  • Opportunities for MCSMN Premium Organization members to establish their own economical advocacy programs built upon our Mayo-developed framework.

Meanwhile, please feel free to experiment with the patient and professional versions of our advocacy platform, and let us know what you think, either in the comments or by email.

Lee Aase is a Communications Director for Mayo Clinic's Social & Digital Innovation team and is Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network

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Developing a Patient and Staff Social Advocacy Platform

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