There has been constant chatter about whether social media is worth the time and effort. Measuring social media’s return on investment (ROI) is a growing concern among communicators and marketers as budget-minded senior managers cast a skeptical eye on social media’s ability to deliver meaningful ROI.
Social media has evolved in the past couple of years. There are now tools available to measure engagement and impact in social media:
- Google Analytics measures online traffic to a website
- Klout Score measures online influence through Facebook and Twitter pages
- Twitter Grader ranks Twitter users based on engagement, followers, follows and updates
Although real relationships are a valuable way to measure social media ROI, another benefit of social media is that more people will learn about an organization. Having a lot of fans and followers, or having tweets retweeted, increases brand awareness. When done right, social networking builds a brand.
While the ROI on social media efforts may seem difficult to calculate, it is not too different from the rest of an organization: Track it, analyze it, see what works, and repeat.
More than any other marketing tool, social media will draw the attention of hospital attorneys and information technology and human resources departments. Keep in mind that the goal of these departments is to minimize or eliminate any risk the hospital may face. A communications professional’s job, as Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic has pointed out in many communications, is to look at reward management – what tools, tactics and strategies are available to enhance a hospital’s organization and reputation, develop new and productive relationships with patients, and increase media attention and the number of patients coming through the doors.
Most public relations and communications professionals are also interested in reducing risk and are willing to compromise. PR and communications professionals must be present when departments converge to work out a policy about whether and how hospital employees use social media. In many cases, IT departments arbitrarily block access to these sites for all staff without a thorough discussion of how the sites can offer positive returns for the hospital.