In a Q&A session on "the future of emerging media" at the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development's (SHSMD) annual conference in Chicago this week, many of the questions surprised me. About half of the attendees were well versed in social platforms and wanted information on the nitty-gritty of tracking and strategy, the other half still seemed worried about opening their organization up to online criticism and were skeptical about achieving leadership buy-in. This half of the group is clearly struggling to embrace social media. One woman proudly proclaimed that, after hours of work, she had successfully created a Facepage.
Panelist Dean Browell, PhD, executive vice president for Richmond, VA, ad agency Feedback, said it best: "I know some of you are thinking, just let me retire before I have to learn this crap."
That "'wait-it-out" attitude must be why attendees at this year's conference 'are asking the same social media-fearing questions they asked in years past.
"To be fair, those questions are now uncommon," Browell said when I asked him about social media acceptance the next day. "A year or two ago people didn't even want to raise their hands to admit that they had a Facebook account."
Still, it seems as if the healthcare community isn't integrating social media into its marketing strategies as fast as it would like. After all, 12 of SHSMD's 60 regular sessions were devoted specifically to online marketing and social media, in addition to a few workshops.
The key to successful social media integration, which Browell and the other panelists in the ""session tried to drive home, is that the online community is going to talk about your organization whether you are active online, or not.