Social media isn’t what it never was.

Social media isn’t what it never was.

The term ‘social media’ is too polite to effectively communicate its importance to what it means for healthcare.  To me, Social Media sounds more like a coffee clutch or a discussion that would take place on Oprah or on The View.

Social media (SM) is often a targeted, violent dialogue fraught with vitriol.  There is nothing convivial or social about it.  It is not undertaken with your organization’s permission or its wellbeing in mind.

It may be easier to understand what it is not than to describe what it is.  SM is not B2B Facebook—it is not throngs of people who want to friend your organization and share nice comments about what it does.  SM usually begins with someone who has a bone to pick with your organization.  Their intent is to fan the flames of their discontent and turn it into a digital conflagration.  It need not be fair or honest.  For the most part SM is propaganda, and its purpose is to sway others to the propagandist’s way of thinking.

If your firm is looking at how to participate in SM, it is best to begin with an understanding of the ground rules—you have some, your opponents do not.  Their approach is like guerilla warfare.  Who knows where they will appear next.  Twitter, Youtube, blogging?

Most organizations who are considering enhancing their SM presence look at it as in IT initiative—enhance the web site, put up a Facebook page, maybe even starting to Twitter.  Just so you know, none of the opposition is throwing social jabs at your IT department.  IT can get you a presence.  What the presence consists of belongs to the likes of marketing, operations, and the executives.

If you have a good PR firm, pull them into the conversation.  It will be like taking your firm to a therapist and starting its own twelve-step program.

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