"Because of the success of the baby contest, we decided to continue with contests to increase activity," says Stebbins. "Our hospital holds numerous successful community events, and Go Red for Women was the next one scheduled. With our sponsorship partner, we devised the best red outfit photo contest."
St. Peter's wanted not only to attract more friends but also to give more women a reason to attend the event, says Stebbins. While the red outfit contest only generated about 10 new friends, St. Peter's did receive 18 photo submissions, and 96 people voted for their favorite red outfit. The number of attendees remained in line with the "Go Red for Women" event held in the previous year.
Michelle Kustra, marketing coordinator at Sherman Health, a 255-bed hospital in Elgin, IL, admits that, like St. Peter's, her organization started out simply posting information on social media sites as well. However, for the past few years, Sherman Health's social media goal has been to start discussions with the community.
Kustra says that the Illinois hospital uses all the tools at its disposal—including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and e-blasts. "We are no longer talking to the community, but talking with them and connecting to them and helping [the community] to connect with us on a personal level," Kustra says. Sherman Health has focused on photo submissions to help promote this interaction. It is also looking into sharing patient stories.
Healthcare organizations whose strategy is to simply post healthcare information are missing out on the true essence of what social media is all about—having "two-way communication and getting people to connect with you interactively," says Kustra.