Social Media an Effective Way to Promote Clinical Services

In February 2009, St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was about to embark on a social media campaign. Laura Rainey, the hospital’s marketing communications director, was asking herself, “Does my target customer, my audience, really want to hear from us via social media?” She was particularly skeptical about the use of Twitter as an outreach mechanism. “I thought, ‘Who’s really going to start a conversation when they are limited to only 140 characters?’” Ms. Rainey told occupational health professionals at RYAN Associates’ 26th annual national conference in October during a session on marketing in health care. Ms. Rainey put her doubts aside and gradually introduced social media to the Cedar Rapids community. She soon saw positive results. For example, the hospital scored national media coverage when it used Twitter to showcase a new surgical protocol. Meanwhile, it has been able to consistently build and maintain impressive online traffic. “I am committed to using social media as one of many tools in my marketing communications toolbox,” she said.

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