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Few Hospitals Use Social Media Effectively, Says Study

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 25, 2010

Nine in 10 hospitals use social media to some degree, but most of them say they're having little luck attracting new patients with it, and only one in three has a formal social media plan in place, a new study by Greystone.Net shows.

"It is impossible to ignore the effect that social media is having on the Internet in general, and on hospitals and health systems specifically," said Mike Schneider, executive vice president of Greystone.Net. "Organizations that have a formal plan to manage their social media interactions are more likely to be successful, and we expect more and more hospital Web departments to embrace this strategy moving forward."

The research, conducted over two months using Greystone.Net's research panel of more than 100 hospital marketers, also showed that budgeting for social media, including hiring social media employees, is still relatively rare among hospitals. However, many respondents told Greystone.Net that that is likely to change in the near future.

Other key research findings include:

  • Monitoring social media is handled by relatively few people within a hospital's Web department—70% report they have three or fewer people monitoring.

  • Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are the most popular social media for hospitals, and also the most effective in terms of driving traffic to the Web site.

  • Despite the fact that 92% of respondents originally got involved with social media to attract new patients, only 12.5% said they had had some success.

  • Hospitals are struggling to find success with other goals of social media, with only small numbers reporting that they have been successful improving community relations (16.7%), customer service (8.7%), employee engagement (8.7%), and crisis management (4.5%).


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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