Beyond any doubts, social media is a powerful unit that has much influence when it comes to business. It used to be a mere tool of communication between individuals; now, it facilitates communication of groups and circles, and a contemporary business establishment considers it useful to have a social network account or two.
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The undoubtable influence of the social media has started to encompass every area of business. Private and non-profit organizations have long been enjoying the opportunities it offers. One of the reasons for it is that registering and using social media does not require extra expenditures; also, social media has an immense scale of operation and unites audiences in masses. The membership of Facebook, for instance, amounts up to more than a billion. Also, the users of Twitter are able to follow business organizations’ accounts – and are, in fact, more willing to buy from the organizations that they follow (Roberts, 2013). Considering all the online shops and delivery services present on the Web, it is a small wonder that the deployment of social media should become so popular in businesses of both global and small-scale scope.
Although medical establishments have only recently begun making the most of their web audience, some of them might already be considered bonzes of social media interaction. Albeit the plethora of decisions and profound challenges that a newly online-registered hospital comes to face, social media can prove a valuable asset for them, just as for any other establishment. Such was the situation with Mayo Clinic, with brand recognition that it has gained and the place to manifest its missions and values that it has found on the Web (Pennic, 2014). It uses social media to launch health promotion campaigns, holds webinars and more.
In this paper, we are going to evaluate the strategies utilized by Mayo Clinic, determine whether and how the establishment uses the best social media practices and explore the possibilities of deploying conventional communication tools as complementary to the Mayo strategy.
The role of social media in business and medical establishments
The role that social media plays in life of any business encompasses far more than advertisement. For any establishment willing to fill a niche in either conventional or digital market, it is crucial to invest in a marketing platform. On the other hand, the value of social media can be purely empirical, especially for a health care establishment. However, there are several factors that unite them as users of social media and make the latter their undeniable benefactor.
In simple terms, social media is a means of interaction that provides effectiveness and cheapness at the same time. Organizations investing in outsourcing have long been benefitting from finding resources both externally and internally. Such organizations, either global, medium or small-scope, are the most likely to gain an advantage in the market competition (Atanassova & Clark, 2015). Another beneficial point here is that social media makes an establishment more visible (Fisery, 2014).
The majority of global establishments have websites, and there is little surprise at that. Most probably, the familiar icons leading to the “big three” accounts that these organizations have on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus can be seen in these websites, as well as other popular social media sources such as LinkedIn, WordPress, and more. This is done in order to enable the customers to both find the organizations easily and give their feedback or ask questions directly.
The latter is yet another valuable feature that social media offers to businesses. It facilitates communication between the establishment and the audience; still more, through sharing and reposting, the customers can carry the information to other potential customers, thus significantly expanding the target audience (Hornick, 2011). As said, social media membership is usually free, meaning that anyone who has access to the Web can take part and interact first-handedly.
Hospitals, on the other hand, might seem conservative in relation to adopting social media strategies. However, given the unlimited communication, increase in revenue, and the opportunities in recruitment and appointment of personnel that the media facilitates, some of the most well-known medical care institutions have made their first steps and did not go wrong. True, when adopting social media, many decisions have to be made. For example, the websites and pages should be kept up since an unattended page does not call for trust in customers. The same concerns attribute to too much interaction or lack of interaction, making I another issue to decide on.
The training and the involvement of employees is another point of concern here. As a consequence, when it comes to social media involvement, hospitals are reluctant as a rule (Pennic, 2014). Not every hospital can afford it, too. Smaller-scale and rural ones, just as any SME, might find it difficult to maintain since the experts and their work should be paid for (Atanassova and Clark, 2015). Those who appear in the social media, on the other hand, present much variance in the ways and strategies they use.
Mayo Clinic social media strategy: Marketing and health care improvement
In fact, the Mayo Clinic is probably the one that has taken social media presence most seriously. The Clinic has established a center devoted to media alone. The MCCSM (Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media) is aimed at improving the clinic’s social media presence and helping other medical care organizations and promoting health care literacy among the customers (Aase, 2014). The CEO of the Mayo social media center Lee Aase (2014) emphasizes literacy as the ultimate aim of the whole project.
He states that information should be provided in abundance for people to learn and use in case something happens to them. Through constant interaction with patients in social networks, posting videos on YouTube, and more, MCCSM has made a name for itself and has proved to be an asset of extreme value.
With the help of the MCCSM, the Clinic has made its specialists available to the public through webinars and chats in Twitter. As a result, Mayo’s YouTube channel and Twitter account are the most popular among its kind. Such policy also seems justified since, in the CEO’s rating of how the customers choose their health care services provider, Internet was only placed secondary to the word of mouth (Aase, 2014).
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Considering this, Mayo specialists let the patients ask questions and lead the conversations since each patient has a right to decide whether they want any information disclosed or not (Aase, 2014). Thus, through social media, Mayo Clinic has accomplished its two goals: expanding its customer base and improving health literacy among them.
Mayo Clinic and conventional media
Although the digital age dictates its own rules, the benefits of conventional media are not to be underestimated. TV, mail, and print journals and newspapers might provide businesses – and clinical organizations – with some points that social media lacks. The main difference between the two is that conventional media is outbound, meaning that an establishment can reach their audience by its own means (Nica, 2014). Also, such media provides personal connections that are valued by those customers who prefer face-to-face communication (Longo, 2014). Besides, through the means of conventional media an establishment can further expand its audience by targeting those who do not use social media (Nica, 2014).
Mayo Clinic has its own print journal, online copies of which can be found on the Web as well (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2016). However, the journal is mainly oriented on clinicians and deals with issues of internal importance. By popularizing its publications and deploying mail-outs or more active TV advertising, Mayo could attract and educate adepts of conventional media, e.g., elderly people or those experiencing sight issues.
The main disadvantage of such strategy is its potentially high cost. On the other hand, the results of conventional media deployment would be short-term and longer-lasting than those of social media presence (Nica, 2014). By monitoring the customer records, the company could identify potential range of clients most likely to be attracted by such means and use conventional post mail-outs to promote health literacy, advertise, and further increase revenues.
To sum it up, the role that social media has in business is hard to overestimate. It provides its adepts with increased interaction and instant customers’ feedback. It helps find recourses both inside and outside companies, benefitting the skillful outsourcers as compared to the others, both on local and global scale. It facilitates the organizations’ visibility and is lower priced than conventional media usage. For hospitals, being present in social media is also a valuable asset.
To Mayo Clinic, for instance, the social media means the ability to interact and teach both the fellow clinicians and patients health literacy through Twitter. Also, Mayo has made use of YouTube and Facebook to post video clips and hold webinars. The constant source update and monitoring have enhanced the strategy and gained Mayo Clinic the name and popularity; however, it seems that a slight inclination towards more traditional media would benefit the Clinic further still. An appropriate strategy would be to invest in mail-outs and print journals that would provide their customers with simply-put information and advertise the Clinic’s services at the same time. Such strategy can be rather costly but it would further expand the target audience and prove profitable in the shortest time.
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