Blog Post

Rules of social media: Master the metrics.

September 26, 2013

    Hanna Jaquith, Daily Briefing

    Why do you use social media? According to most hospitals, the motivation is simple: Brand awareness and patient engagement, according to a survey conducted by the Advisory Board's Marketing and Planning Leadership Council.

    Rules of social media
    Monday: Define your audience
    Tuesday: Let patients tell their stories
    Wednesday: Benefit with a blog
    Today: Master the metrics.
    Friday: Sustain a conversation

    However, as health systems face greater pressure regarding utilization appropriateness, readmissions penalties, and value-based payment incentives, their goals regarding social media are likely to expand to helping patients manage their health and control their costs through online connections.

    As a result, hospitals must develop a methodology for measuring the effectiveness of their social media strategy. That's an ongoing task, according to Mayo Clinic's Lee Aase; his hospital measures patient engagement with qualitative "soft" metrics—YouTube video views, Facebook likes and followers, and Twitter posts and retweets—and hard metrics, including online traffic, page views, and unique visitors.

    Case study: Mayo Clinic patient Jayson Werth

    In some cases, Mayo has been able to track the progression from these process metrics to bottom-line outcomes, such as unique patient visits and even registration or new appointments. "I like to call them biopsies," Aase says. Mayo will measure "track-throughs" of patients who viewed a video or page, clicked through to the hospital website, and requested an appointment. And with campaigns targeting certain conditions, Mayo will track the number of patients who come in for related treatments.

    Jayson Werth, a professional baseball player, first came to Mayo Clinic to treat a wrist injury after he was struck by a pitch during a spring training game in 2005. Physicians determined that Werth suffered a split tear of his ulnotriquetal ligament (UT), an injury that often goes undiagnosed. Werth was treated by Richard Berger, an orthopedic surgeon, and after a successful recovery, was later signed by the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Werth campaign by the numbers
    2008: Mayo performs 22 UT split repairs
    2009: Werth campaign launches, Mayo performs 20 UT split repairs
    2010: Mayo performs 39 UT split repairs

    Mayo Clinic saw an opportunity in November 2009, after the Phillies won the World Series, to tell Werth's story. They rolled out a social media campaign focused on wrist injuries, which included blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and even hosted a @MayoClinic Twitter chat with Dr. Berger himself.

    The procedure to do UT repairs was "relatively unknown" before that point, Aase says.

    In 2009, Dr. Berger conducted 20 UT split repairs, followed by 39 procedures in 2010—almost a doubling of patient volume in the year following the Werth campaign, Aase told the Daily Briefing. It was "incredible to see this jump in procedures as a result, which translated into bottom-line financial benefits," he added.

    Aase stressed that the campaign was an integrated communications strategy that involved both social media and traditional media relations. However, the "social media part was essential…from YouTube to our blogs to Twitter," he said.

    Have a Question?


    Ask our experts a question on any topic in health care by visiting our member portal, AskAdvisory.