Hospital Social Media Success: Even More Attention Than Expected
If you don’t mind, I’d like to share a real success story we recently experienced. I continue to enjoy your blog and the insights on Twitter. Keep up the great work! The story follows.
57% Increase in Facebook likes - 1,600% Increase in Facebook views - 3,750 YouTube views
In 2008 we came up with the idea to produce life size stand-ups of women striking various poses that suggest empowerment in the quest for breast health awareness and against breast cancer. These silhouettes or "paper dolls" as we fondly called them, were pink from the waist up with pants colored in our logo green. For three years these stand-ups were positioned around town in public areas and in front of generous businesses. They quickly became one of our most recognizable images and were seen as a seasonal landmark of sorts.
Their popularity was such that our community arts council approached us this year with the request of placing them beneath a set of arches that had been built in the median of the major thoroughfare as the symbolic entrance to our city. We agreed and had seven special silhouettes built for this purpose. These eight-foot tall dolls were colored in the same manner as the originals but, because they were part of an art project and were on government property, were not logo'd in any way.
Put in place at the beginning of breast cancer awareness month, the dolls stood as a silent symbol of solidarity with the women of northwest Georgia for three weeks. During that time we received nothing but positive comments about the project and its mission.
On October 20th, only eleven days before their removal, we received word from city officials that they had gotten a complaint that the dolls stood in the public right-of-way and should be removed. Despite having been put in place with the city's consent, we were told they must come down and were given only four hours to do so.
Suspecting that the complaint may have been competitive in nature (we practice in a very competitive market), our PR team gathered quickly and in less than fifteen minutes had a plan for how we would manage this from a communications standpoint. A plan born from the groundwork we had already laid.
We decided to use a grassroots approach that began with a message on our intranet, notifying our two thousand employees of the dolls removal. Additionally, we posted a message on our official hospital Facebook page and also on our breast center's Facebook page. We also produced a three-minute video package that showed the dolls removal and presented our response to the order, along with comments from a local breast health advocate which was placed on our YouTube page.
There was no official press release, only the steps mentioned. Within an hour the message went viral in our area and local media picked up the story. We began receiving interview requests from various media, including Atlanta's network affiliates.
A sign printing company we've partnered with before heard the story and offered to print yard signs supporting the cause, at no charge.
A local news radio station had Haley Walker, our PR Director, on their morning show for a twenty-minute interview, discussing the "Paper Dolls Controversy", breast health awareness and the overwhelming response we received. We requested, and were allowed to videotape the interview and also posted that to our YouTube and Facebook pages.
Within the first twenty-four hours, our Facebook likes increased by 57% and our number of Facebook views made a 1,600% jump. The original video was viewed over 3,700 times. Not exactly Justin Bieber type numbers, but still very significant for a 400-bed hospital in a small Georgia town. Those numbers compare favorably with what we’ve seen generated by other hospitals in our region and they don’t even include the number of times the radio interview was viewed.
In addition to the increases in social media traffic, the sign company handed out three thousand yard signs and another five hundred “Save the Dolls” t-shirts were given away, all stemming from a post on our intranet, a post on Facebook/Twitter and a video on YouTube. What a great proof of concept for our social media strategy!
The hoopla had died down somewhat now but we still receive comments from people telling us how this story turned and how lucky we were for it to have happened. We just smile and say thanks for the support. Silently, though, we remember that Ben Franklin said, “diligence is the mother of good luck”. We’ve been diligent in building our social media presence and this was just the fruit of that labor.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. We read your column regularly and always gain something from it.
Christina Thielst is a hospital administrator, consultant, educator and author who has experienced the evolution of healthcare over the last 30 years. She consults with innovative healthcare organizations that seek to improve the delivery of healthcare by addressing administrative and governance issues, including those integral to the execution of health information technology solutions and ...