Implement a Social Media Strategy – What’s the ROI?

18 04 2011

Measuring ROI for social media is the one thing marketers have been trying to figure out since we have started using it. We know using social media works, we know it is reaching our target audience, but unlike magazine ads or commercial spots on TV, it is almost impossible to measure. Some like to measure it based on “fans” or “followers.” Others look to those they are actively engaging with. Three hospitals have now come out with distinct approaches on how to measure exactly how much money social media channels are bringing into their hospitals.

Nick Dawson, interim administrative director of community engagement at Bon Secours Hospital use Twitter for referrals by directly responding to patients who are looking for a Bon Secours doctor, using search functions to find people on Twitter who may need a doctor, and posting on their Twitter page they are here to help.  It is their social media team that calls patients and sets up appointments when the patient contacts their Twitter handle, which allows them to track social media referrals.  They put everyone into a program and within twenty seconds Dawson can tell whether or not a patient was referred to Bon Secours Hospital via a social media channel.

Inova Health System measures social media ROI through a customer relationship management system. They recently used this system to track the ROI of their Fit for 50 wellness campaign. The program used videos on their website along with Facebook and Twitter to inspire people to live healthier lives. The CRM gave them information about each patient and allowed them to see the patients that had no relationship with Inova prior to the Fit for 50 social media campaign but continued to comeback after the program ended.

Although both of these hospitals used their programs to track long term results a Swedish Medical Center focused a on measuring the ROI of a one night event. They administrated a live of a patient’s overnight sleep-disorder test and answered questions via Twitter. The program had 10,000 people interacting directly with Swedish physicians and 5.5 million media impressions. They had an exact formula for measuring ROI: (money earned from the program – the amount spent to promote it) / the cost of the promotion =  ROI

Although these are three very distinct ways of measuring ROI it gives communication directors a couple different options for what would work best for their hospital and give them a better shot at convincing the board of trustees that a social media campaign is a worthwhile investment. The more concrete numbers they are able to provide the better and as more people are able to be convinced that social media will give hospitals tremendous ROI the faster we can have these strategies implemented. I feel that this is where healthcare needs to be heading and I am anxious to see how more hospitals use the technology that is available to them. I just wish the industry wasn’t so slow in adapting to everything.




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