This is the third in our series of “Social Media How-To’s for Healthcare.”

Some folks jump into social media figuring, “Hey, what have I got to lose? It doesn’t really cost anything.” While that might be true in theory, in terms of direct cost, to be successful with your social media initiatives you should take into account the indirect and, potentially, even some direct costs.

 Here are some things to consider and tips to setting a realistic budget for your total program, based on the component costs of your overall social media strategy and desired outcomes:

■  The cost of a fabulous first impression = Time well spent.  A great first impression is priceless, so you’ll need to figure out the price to ensure you get one when you launch your social media channel(s).

  • Develop a plan of attack. Here is a link to a resource that may help you get started: 7 Core Values at the Heart of Successful Social Media.
  • Research what others have done! Check out our Engagement Quotient Chart for healthcare Facebook pages and Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Network List of who’s using which social media channels.
  • Facebook Tip The goal is to produce an engaging, two-way experience for fans, so post information that is interesting and relevant to your fans.
  • Twitter Tip – You need 140-character “headlines” that encourage clicks or a call to action. Be creative, and concise. Link to compelling content.

■  The cost of your social media manager or team: Before launching a Facebook page, you need to assess the time necessary for a healthy level of engagement.

  • This means 1-2 hours per day spent on developing and posting to your Facebook page, which translates to about 20 percent of a staffer’s time—probably in the neighborhood of $10k to $14K annually. That’s just for placing content.

■  The cost of fans & followers for your business needs: Successful Facebook pages have typically made an investment in fan acquisition.

  • How many fans do you need? There are no hard and fast rules about how many fans equal success.
  • Having in-house marketing staff devoted to growing your fan bases requires direct and indirect costs.
  • Outsourcing the work to a specialist or agency may be more cost-effective. Just remember the fan numbers alone do not guarantee a return.

■  The cost of developing a pipeline of good, diversified content: Promotional materials can’t be the only output, but they should be a small part.

  • Share what’s new or “fun” – e.g., employee initiatives, community involvement – at your institution.
  • Content that talks about trends or provides information relevant to your target audience’s interest and your industry at-large are crucial to rounding out a well-balanced diet.

■   The cost of monitoring and measuring: Collecting metrics and performing analysis adds to the total cost of a social media campaign.

  • Third-party metric solution companies typically charge $500-$1,000 a month.
  • Facebook provides metrics, too – the key is to understand what to look at.
  • All these third-party solutions help you count posts, fans, likes, comments, sharing, tagging and more.
  • The two most valuable interactions to monitor are “commitments of time”—likes and comments—and “expressions of interest”—clicks on links associated with your posts. If you use a third party, make sure you get easily understandable reports, training and trend information as part of the package.

 

 

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