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November 16, 2012 / achanguris

Mayo Clinic Healthcare Social Media Summit – Opportunistic Marketing

I came into this day-two session at the Mayo Clinic Healthcare Social Media Summit ready to hear how a hospital made the most of scarce resources (because who has ample resources these days?) to get its message out to the masses.

My eagerness was quickly replaced with jealous annoyance, as I realized the PR team for the hospital in question had incredible connections and seemingly endless funding. For example, they were able to get $30,000 from Anheuser Busch to print t-shirts which they then sold to major league baseball fans as the team pursued a World Series title. Then they partnered with the team (another $280,000 investment) for another fundraiser. That’s nice, but I struggled to see how I could make either example work with my real-world budget.

Even so, I tried to get past my annoyance and openly-admitted jealousy to find something I could use back at home.

The PR duo broke their efforts into three categories:

  1. Spontaneous
  2. Strategic
  3. Specific

Spontaneous opportunities (as you might imagine) pop up suddenly. You have to be ready to act just as quickly to capitalize on them, before the moment passes. In the world of social media, memes come and go lightning quick. Remember when candidate Mitt Romney mentioned Big Bird in the first presidential debate? There were PhotoShopped images, people in costumet-shirts, and more recently a Million Puppet March. Would you believe that was only a month ago? If you tried to jump on that wave today you’d be comically late. The point here is you need to have the ability (and perhaps the permission) to act when these opportunities arise.

A strategic opportunity is one you develop and nurture over time — it’s planned. My hospital recently launched a new logo, and in doing so we developed a diverse marketing plan spanning social media, paid placements (print and television), earned media, events (internal and external) — you get the idea. It was all methodically planned and executed according to a schedule.

Specific marketing opportunities are tied to existing events or dates, and you build on them. An example I think we can all identify with is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October, my hospital is involved with a breast cancer symposium, a 5K, a gala, special mammogram events and a bra donation drive. We start with the nationally-recognized observation and bring it home to our community.

In short, what I took away from this presentation was:

  1. Be nimble.
  2. Plan what you can.
  3. Tie in to bigger events.

Now those are things any social media manager or marketing department can handle.

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