"I cannot tell you the number of times we have responded to message on Twitter that references an experience with us to find that the user is shocked that they got a response," says Cynthia Manley, director of content strategy for the 966-bed hospital. "They typically are at least pleasantly surprised—even in circumstances of 'service recovery'—and often they are delighted."
Though some patients may be surprised to find the hospital online, Vanderbilt's social reach is impressive—its Facebook page has nearly 150,000 likes and its Twitter account has more than 9,000 followers. And Mayo Clinic has long set the social bar for healthcare organizations, with 537,000 likes on Facebook and 852,000 followers on Twitter.
2. Launching Strategic Online Initiatives
Mayo Clinic's online impact comes down to creating trustworthy content, from videos to blog posts, Aase says.
One of the most significant successes for the three-hospital system was initiating and participating in Twitter chats about certain conditions.
In 2009, Mayo Clinic held its first Twitter chat related to a story about unexplained wrist pain plaguing a baseball player who was being treated by one of the health system's orthopedic surgeons. The #wristpain Twitter chat was announced in USA Today to let readers know they would have a chance to ask questions directly to the physician.
"We've done numerous Twitter chats since then, and one of the important factors is having a media partner to help make potential participants aware of the opportunity," Aase says. "If they use their traditional means to publicize the chat, that helps. If they put the notice in their Twitter accounts, that's important too, because they tend to have large follower bases. And by publicizing on Twitter it is reaching an audience that already has taken the step of creating a Twitter account."