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Evidence-based Social Media: 5 Ways to Support Your Organization on the Internet Without Selling Your Soul

Jen Rittenhouse will present "Evidence-Based Social Media: How to Support Your Organization on the Internet without Selling Your Soul" at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference. To learn more from Jen and other expert speakers, please join us!


It sent chills down my spine the first time I heard our Chief Marketing Officer use this word about evolving the approach to our social media program.

My head immediately went to a swirl of encounters that had accumulated over my five-plus years managing social media for a large health system.

If you work on the Internet for a health care organization, I know you feel me.

“We need an Instagram account for our cafeteria.”

“The pharmacy wants a Facebook page.”

“Doctor so-and-so Googled himself and didn’t like what he saw.”

“What about a ‘dogs of our urgent care clinics’ account to show our fun side?”

Decentralization sounded like open season on social media. To make it work, we needed process laced with strategy and access powered by parameters. We — the social media team — also needed to loosen our grip on the hashtags and be open to experimenting for the sake of experimentation.

So, what did we do? Perhaps more importantly, how did we do it in a way that maintained the integrity of our social program and kept the social media team out of therapy?

To start, we had to listen. Our CMO was moving us in a new direction that was about scale, education, and access. Our team was on top of how social media was evolving for our industry and our community, but we didn’t fully understand how it was evolving internally. So, we asked questions, developed goals, and brainstormed approaches that would make everyone happy.

Next, we had to set participants — and the system — up for success. We did this by developing a two-phased Pilot Program and worked with a small set of stakeholders to launch.

Phase One leverages our existing channels to help participants find their sweet spot for audience and content. Phase Two gives participants a social media account. The goal for participants in each phase is support and discovery. To support the participants we created guidelines, reporting and calendar templates, and decision-trees to help participants navigate the wilds of the Internet.

Chances are, if you are in the health care marketing game long enough, you too shall be faced with a similar charge that challenges your strategy and approach. Here’s my hot take on how to turn trepidation into professional and personal success.

  1. Take a deep breath. It’s not open-heart surgery or a neck tattoo. It’s also normal to feel panic when organizational charges challenge your professional philosophies. Ask questions and listen for opportunities in your leaders’ answers.
  2. Stay true to the strategy. Sometimes things in life let us down (I’m looking at you, Facebook algorithm) but you can always count on your strategy to catch you and be your guide. If the work can tie back to the strategy, your leaders will be happy and you’ll be able to sleep at night.
  3. Measure, report, repeat. Numbers never lie. Use your analytics to track the performance of everything you do on the Internet. Report the performance to key stakeholders and involve people and numbers in planning your next move.
  4. Create parameters you can believe in and trust. Guidelines and decision trees aren’t sexy — but they set everyone up for success. Make time at the front end of any major change to get your support documents dialed in.
  5. Find and love your sources. This is by far my favorite lesson. Find your internal sources and creatives and make them feel like a part of your team. Celebrate their successes and figure out how to amplify the content they create to help tell the big brand story.

We are a few months into our Pilot Project. The results are encouraging. Our NICU team is sharing content with us and as a result families in our NICU are beginning to share with us (hello, user-generated content). In one month, our facility dogs Instagram account had almost 300 followers and is a source for our children’s hospital Instagram account and system Instagram account.

In summary, despite the emotional rollercoaster that launched this project, our team is at peace today because we are engaging our communities in ways that we never imagined possible. I’ll have more insight and stories to share at the 2019 #MCSMN Annual Conference. See you there.

Jen Rittenhouse is an industry-agnostic copywriter and social marketer. If there's magic in a moment, she'll find it and turn it into content that will make you slow your scroll. She has managed the social media program at MultiCare Health System for more than five years. Her biggest accomplishments in health care: learning to make audacious and creative moves in a conservative and cautious environment while applying best practices and demonstrating lip gloss leadership. Find her on the Internet @YennyPie.

“Find your internal sources and creatives and make them feel like a part of your team.”

We had the Industrial Age, and we think we are in the Information Age, but I am not so sure. I’ve heard the term “Age of Creativity” pop out at conferences periodically and I wonder if this is the most important thing to develop.

Look, we all know how powerful information and data is – words like ROI and proxy metrics come up all the time. On both the clinical side and marketing side, everything id about data.

That’s fine, but it domes with s cost – and that cost is dehumanization or a little drop off of humanity.

I think to balance that our internal creatives need to be discovered and empowered, as was done here. For example, the dog/urgent care group (apart from being great for recruiting!) is a most human thing: positive, fun, and light- and helps balance out some of the digital tsunami we are in.

Anyway – keep finding and valuing those creatives in your org, because they may be the key to your business success if we are in the Age of Creativity. 😇

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