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Keeping up in the social media arms race


Listen in as Cynthia Manley (@CynthiaManley) of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dennis Jolley (@dsjutah) of University of Utah Health Care have a conversation about the increasingly important role of social media and the opportunities for engagement created for academic medicine by the new media landscape.

Manley: And then I finally figured out that it's visual bookmarking and once I got that concept, the whole idea of pinning to boards and all that kind of stuff just didn't speak to me. But visual bookmarking, I'm like, "Okay, now I get it."

Jolley: Yeah, now you get it. Yeah.

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Jolley: This is Dennis Jolley with the University of Utah, and I'm talking to Cynthia Manley from Vanderbilt. Thank you, Cynthia, for coming in today.

Manley: Absolutely.

Jolley: So you and I have been going back and forth on Twitter here at the conference and then we finally got a chance to meet in real life. You've done a great job tweeting from the conference.

Manley: Thanks

Jolley: Let's talk a little bit about social media and about how media is changing and what that means for academic medical centers. What do you think the biggest media opportunities and marketing opportunities are for academic medical centers?

Manley: I think it's really twofold. I think one is the opportunity for us to be our own media and tell our own stories directly to our consumers, to patients, to families, to referring providers, to other scientist peer institutions, and it's also the opportunity to really listen to what people are saying about us. I think that's one thing a lot of people overlook. They think about the publishing piece of social media and don't think so much about the listening, being able to hear directly. We always say in marketing that word of mouth marketing is the Holy Grail. Well, social media is word of mouth on steroids.

Jolley: It really is.

Manley: And we can listen in. I think that's the missed opportunity for a lot of people.

Jolley: And I agree with you 100% because academic medical centers in particular have a reputation for being like the ivory tower that talks at people. The social media allows us to make a two-way conversation like we've never had before.

Manley: Absolutely, absolutely.

Jolley: You've also done some really innovative things at Vanderbilt. Tell us a little bit about the "Nashville" episode that highlighted, that actually part of the episode of the TV show occurred at VUMC, and you were live tweeting during the show. Tell us about that.

Manley: Yeah, that was actually a lot of fun. "Nashville" is a soap opera, if you will, set in Nashville. We love watching it, seeing all the sites of the city that are all very similar, are very familiar to us and seeing the music industry. At the end of the season last year Rayna Jaymes was in a terrible car wreck and nobody knew whether she survived, where she went for treatment, but she went to Vanderbilt, into Vanderbilt Hospital.

The crew from the show came and the stars were there and they filmed on our campus. We were not allowed to tip anybody's hand on what the plot lines were but the night of the premiere I watched it and tweeted from our handle VUMC Health, and tied it to information about our trauma center.

So it was kind of fun. People would be tweeting, "Oh, my God, is Rayna going to make it?" and I got to tweet back, "Well, you know, Rayna's still not out of the woods but 95% of the patients who come to our trauma center survive their injuries." So it was that kind of thing.

Jolley: That's brilliant.

Manley: We got lots of good feedback from people who said things like, "Oh, it's so cool that VUMC Health is tweeting.

Jolley: And that's that kind of engagement the people don't expect from an academic medical center.

Manley: Correct

Jolley: Teaching hospitals just don't have that reputation. How did you get involved in social media?

Manley: It was sort of a roundabout way. I personally got involved because my daughter was a teenager and she was getting into it and so I'm paying attention to it. I worked in our Cancer Center for a number of years and the average age of onset of cancer 67 so I was ignoring social media for a while because I felt like my biggest challenge was getting the 20-something designer to make the type big enough on the brochure for my patients to see it, right?

But then I started seeing the statistics about the growth in Facebook and seeing that sweet spot of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s that were joining Facebook, and that was clearly a sweet spot for us in healthcare marketing and in healthcare in general because those are the women who are the CEOs of healthcare in their household. So that was when I started paying attention to it.

Jolley: So you've mentioned Facebook and Twitter. Are those the two primary social media properties Vanderbilt is engaging in?

Manley: Correct, correct. We do also operate on LinkedIn. We have Google+ pages. We are on Pinterest for our Children's Hospital and for a blog that we have for parents called Wishing Well, and we started using Instagram also in conjunction with our Children's Hospital. But we try to be really, really strategic in how we pick which ones we are going to use and how much effort we are going to put into them.

Jolley: That's the challenge isn't it? I know for us that's the big challenge. There are so many opportunities, there's so many tools, and there's always a new one.

Manley: Yeah, and I want to do all of them.

Jolley: That's how I am, too. You know we are trying Vine and we are trying Instagram and who knows what we will be trying six months from now.

Manley: Right

Jolley: So there are so many new platforms we just talked about. It's really exciting, but does it ever get to be too much?

Manley: I think so. I think you can really spread yourself too thin to where you can't really engage appropriately on any of them. The one that I'm struggling with, to be perfectly honest with you, is Google+. Google+ is part of Google and it's part of that ecosystem, and so I have a sense that it's important for such results and it's something that we need to pay attention to, but when we were talking about audiences and who's there, it tends to skew younger, it's mostly guys in their 20s. So right now the healthcare decisions makers, the women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, aren't on Google+.

Jolley: Right, yeah.

Manley: So what's the appropriate amount of effort to put there? That's just an example.

Jolley: It's a great example, though. You know, I was a Google+ skeptic for a long time and I'm kind of a recent convert. I've really actually engaged around it myself recently. That's personally, not on a system level. I'm still trying to figure out how to use it on a system level. There are others out there, too. Reddit, which some people are so excited about and I just have not yet figured out how to really engage on it. So I think there's a lot of opportunities for us and we'll see some come and go, I imagine.

Manley: Yeah. What are your thoughts on Pinterest? Are you guys are using Pinterest?

Jolley: I love Pinterest because I think it is an opportunity to engage with that sweet spot audience, you know, women. We are really trying it around women and children, it sounds similar to you, and it is an opportunity to engage in a way that is not us just pushing our information but sharing information from a lot of different sources and just saying we're part of the conversation.

Manley: Absolutely. Now, we had a bit of a struggle with Pinterest around what the lawyer said about the copyright issues concerned with it.

Jolley: Yeah.

Manley: So it's something systems and big organizations have to be aware of.

Jolley: Absolutely

Manley: Personally, I don't do much Pinterest. It was the first of any of these platforms that I opened up and I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't figure out the first thing to do. I had to ask somebody in my team who is a big Pinterest user, "How do I even do this? I don't get it." And then I finally figured out that it's visual bookmarking, and once I got that concept, the whole idea of pinning the boards and all that kind of stuff just didn't speak to me. But visual bookmarking, I'm like, "Okay, now I get it."

Jolley: Yeah, now you get it. Yeah, and that's the key. With all of these, it's like what is that one key way of looking at it that's like, "Oh, that's what we're doing here."

Manley: Yeah, exactly

Jolley: Talk to me about do you ever find any resistance or just hesitancy around social media from physicians or hospital leadership at all?

Manley: I think there's a growing excitement about it. I think a lot of physicians in leadership want to know about it. Our Vice Chancellor is very, very interested in it. We report to him on a regular basis some of the activity and he and our Chief Executive Officer are very excited about the opportunities.

I think there's a lot of misunderstanding by physicians. They still look at it like push marketing, so they want a Facebook page because their competitor has a Facebook page, and then when you explain how Facebook actually works, you know, I find that the data really helps persuade them. I mean, they're numbers gods, and if you can show them, understand what your objective is and here's how social media can help with that, and here is the data that shows why the idea that you have, although intuitive, is not the best approach. So we are finding an increasing awareness of it and an increasing embracing of it

Jolley: There is a real opportunity to educate, though, in that process because it is different from push marketing. Like you said earlier, it's about engagement. It's about listening as much as talking.

Manley: Absolutely, absolutely.

Jolley: Cynthia, thank you for coming in. You can follow Cynthia @CynthiaManley on Twitter.