Welcome to part 2 of a 3 part series on the Return on Investment (ROI) related to social media in healthcare.
In part 1, “Is There RETURN?”, we explored the definition of ROI and Return, the ‘types’ of Return, how social media can deliver Return and some anecdotal examples of Return realized by a few physicians.
This post will focus on the social media INVESTMENT. The 3rd post will focus on how to design a MEASURABLE social media program.
So, what is the INVESTMENT?
The actual investment will depend on the scope of the program that you design, but we’ll try to outline some examples to provide you with a good idea of the required investment.
INVESTMENT should be looked at from two different perspectives - the initial investment and theongoing investment. Within these two different perspectives, INVESTMENT will take one of two forms –either time or money.
What is the initial investment?
Initial investment is going to be primarily time with a little bit of technology (money). If we look at a typical implementation of a social media program, it’s pretty easy to identify the required investment.
A social media program implementation should progress through the following phases:
1) Defining Objectives and Developing Strategy
2) Identification of the current “As Is” state
3) Designing a MEASURABLE program
4) Program implementation
5) Ongoing measurement and optimization of the program
The investment in the first 3 steps is TIME. Whether this is time that you allocate with an internal resource or time that you buy from a consultant – it’s still TIME.
How much time?
That’s the million dollar question.
Much of this depends on what you already know about your overall objectives and your current state. If this is generally known, the first two steps will be relatively quick and most of the time required will be in the ‘design’ phase. If little is known relative to your objectives and current state, then a fair amount of time will be required up front.
Phase 1 is the critical foundation, meaning that you should not move on to step 2 until this is completely fleshed out and agreed upon.
The program implementation (phase 4) is the easy part if phases 1-3 are done completely. The INVESTMENT in program implementation is:
1) Setting up or modification of your practice / hospital website (based on design in phase 3)
2) Setting up profiles / pages / channels on the various social media ”platforms” (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
3) Creation of initial content for website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, etc.
What is the on-going investment?
The goal is to ‘design’ a program that requires little investment on an ongoing basis. Most healthcare professionals do not have several hours a day to spend maintaining their digital / social media program. If done right, the ongoing investment can be reduced down to a few hours of time per week.
For example, you’ll write one post per week for your website, reference a valuable tidbit on Facebook 2-3 times per week and, potentially, post a video on Youtube 1-3 times per month.
You may be saying, “Time is not cheap”. Even though it’s only a few hours a week, those are still valuable hours.
However, this may not be incremental time. You’ll want to focus on what these few hours can replace. With a digital / social media program in place, what existing activities can you eliminate or reduce?
Depending on your objectives, one typical comparison is the investment associated with traditional marketing. By comparison, traditional marketing activities (direct mail pieces, print newsletters, TV/radio ads, newspaper ads, billboards, etc.) are considerably more expensive.
What traditional marketing activities can you reduce or replace with digital / social media?
So, how do we assign dollars to the INVESTMENT?
As so much of this depends on your program objectives (phase 1), it might be easiest to provide a real world example. The following is an INVESTMENT outline from a small practice.
As you can see, the overall INVESTMENT is relatively low.
Especially when compared to the traditional marketing of print, radio, and television.
Especially when compared to some of the potential RETURNS identified in our first post, Is there RETURN?
WHY AREN’T MORE PRACTICES PARTICIPATING IN SOCIAL NETWORKS?
Physicians need more data.
We love to make informed decisions.
You may be asking …
- How much time does it take?
- How do I get engaged? How do I participate in social networks?
- How do I maintain patient privacy?
- How do I maintain HIPAA compliance but connect with my patients?
- What works best for practices like mine? …
The answers are out there.
What is your experience?
If you are seeking the answers to these questions, become part of the solution - take our survey – and benefit from the resulting case studies and “best practices”.
Also, stay tuned for post #3 in this series focused on designing a MEASURABLE social media program. (subscribe to updates on the right side of this page)