Top 4 Reasons Why Health Businesses Need a Social Media Presence

jmjcomp

The computer has come a long way in the 33 years since this photo was taken. And with the advancement of computers came the birth and incredible expansion of the internet and more recently social media. Just as it is impossible to ignore the pervasive impact that computers have in our lives, and it is now also impossible for businesses to ignore the need for a social media presence.

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I am someone who considers herself pretty average when it comes to the use of social media tools (on Facebook, LinkedIn; not on Twitter, never (until now) written a blog, etc), and yet I have recently fully come to grips with the fact that businesses, such as the animal clinic that I work at, need a presence on social media to survive. Here’s my top 4 reasons why:

 

  1. Even if you don’t put yourself on social media, someone else will. Sites like Yelp operate by allowing customers to review their experiences at your business, without your oversight. It has been my experience that people are more likely to review a business when they have had a negative experience there, so it is all the more important that you actively get your name and positive reputation out there.
  2. All your competitors are already there. You wouldn’t want your competitor getting a bigger ad in the local paper or having a more visible sign on the street, so why would you want your competitor advertising more than you on the internet?
  3. It is now the way news travels fastest. The story of the lost phone in NYC that was recovered through an arrest of a teenager by the NYPD was only possible due to the fact that the postings of the phone owner’s friend on social media spread quickly and widely. An ad in the paper, a report in one newspaper, or a few flyers on street poles would never have had the same impact.
  4. Everyone expects it. It isn’t just the younger generations using social media. I was recently at a soccer game, albeit a kind of boring soccer game, and the lady in front of me (probably in her 50s), the man next to me (probably in his 40s) and the teenagers in front and to my left were all using their smartphones to update and check Facebook at the same time during the game. Social media is spreading to all members of our society and if you are looking for a way to get the word out to all members of society – here it is.

 

This list may seem obvious to many of you, but it has been my experience working with small business owners that the switch to advertising in social media has been a slow one. Do they really need a Facebook page? What about Twitter? Should someone write a blog? And what the heck is Tumblr? Will this all take money away from advertising in the Yellow Pages? Seriously.

 Phone_book

By How can I recycle this (http://www.recyclethis.co.uk) (phone_book) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The readings this week have reinforced in my mind the importance of social media. Here Comes Everybody (Clay Shirky) has done a wonderful job of illustrating how social media has made it easier for groups to assemble (without even knowing each other and without an organizing body) and news to spread (without even the involvement of professional journalists). The story of Trent Lott’s political ouster because of news spread initially from amateur bloggers was an incredible example of the way that the world has changed since the explosion of the web and social media.

 

I can’t imagine why any business owner would want to miss out on the endless opportunities for growth in social media.

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7 thoughts on “Top 4 Reasons Why Health Businesses Need a Social Media Presence

  1. Just in case people are reading these posts who aren’t members of our class, I wanted to share the link for Dr. Catalani’s post about the book “Here Comes Everybody” –> https://ihealthcomms.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/sample-strategy-post/
    This really is a fabulous reference about social theory and social media.

    Also wanted to comment more specifically about blogging. I have very little experience with blogging – in fact, I only just learned that “blog” is short for “weblog.” That being said, I think blogging is a very important part of one’s social media presence. “Social Media for Social Good” (reviewed by Dr Catalani here, https://ihealthcomms.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/featured-lm/ ) does an excellent job of discussing the importance of blogging for non-profit organizations, as well as some great tips for successful blogging, and I think the same points apply for businesses, including health related businesses. I certainly plan to explore the way my clinic could utilize blogging to increase our social media presence.

  2. Catherine,
    Great post and I agree with every single reason of using media for a business. I yelp every business or try to find their reviews whether it is ac heating company in my area or a dentist. I want to know other people’s experience and what better place to find out than internet because this information is free and at our fingertips. In the morning, when I am listening to the radio and there is ad about a business or doctor’s clinic, I can never remember or write down the phone number but it is much easier to recall the website address or facebook username to search that particular person/place. From a business owner’s, point of view, I don’t see why he/she should worry about costs because all these sites like facebook/tumblr and yelp are free to use.

    • Yes, I agree. I think my bosses have been worried about the cost of using staff time to maintain these sites. Also there are a number of companies out there who will manage your on-line presence (post to your FB, etc), and for people with little to no experience with social media, those companies are tempting to use. But of course, *they* cost money (even if the sites don’t). Thanks for your comment!

  3. Catherine,
    I think you absolutely hit the nail on the with Yelp. I think most folks only leave reviews if they had the “best or the worst experience of their life”. This can really skew how a small business is perceived. I know some people who will not patronize a restaurant if they have poor Yelp reviews or a low star count. Its important to take the various reviews with a grain of salt, and forge out an opinion of your own.

    • Yeah, I have to admit that though I have never actually posted a Yelp review, the only times I have felt like posting one have been after negative experiences at places. It feels like a good way to release frustration – but the problem being that the people that read the bad reviews may read too much into it, not realizing all the other factors that might have come to play during the experience. The system would work better in my opinion if everyone reviewed a business after going there, that way the really positive and really negative reviews would not stand out as much and give a more accurate picture of the business. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Great post. You are absolutely right about those reasons. It’s something that we can’t run and hide from any more. The real question then becomes, how do we make this fun and meaningful for staff at health nonprofits and how do we make sure it really impacts the issues that we care about?

    • Thanks. I agree – and I like your choice of words because I think “fun” and “meaningful” are both important – for both the staff and the target audience. These can often be at odds with each other – i.e. you can create some very meaningful content that isn’t very fun and loses people’s attention right away (and as we know, attention on the internet is very short) or you can create some fun content that doesn’t really tell the audience anything. I’m hoping this class and the readings will help us more with this question! 😉

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