Mayo Clinic sets a high bar with social media


Using social media in highly-regulated industries such as healthcare is fraught with hurdles and pitfalls for the unwary communicator, especially where it involves engagement with patients.

In an industry that still has no official guidance on how to use social media in major countries, it’s little wonder that mistakes can happen and FUD takes centre stage.

Still, there are a number of bright spots in the healthcare industry, dominated by individuals in organizations who have simply zeroed in with a laser-like focus on what is possible, calculated their risks and have seen measurable success as a result of their efforts.

One such success story is Mayo Clinic, a US not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group and operator of some 70 hospitals and clinics and colleges of medicine.

A case study published by eMarketer describes how Mayo uses social media to support patients, looking at what the company has done since it established its Center for Social Media in July 2010.

The case study summary eMarketer made available (their clients have access to the full report) describes the objectives Mayo set for their use of social media in patient engagement, the obstacles they faced and how they planned to overcome them, an outline of their strategy, and a look at the results they’ve seen.

For example:

[…] Thanks to social media efforts, Mayo Clinic has 180,000 followers on Twitter and 54,000 "likes" on Facebook. It also has the largest YouTube channel of any medical provider, attracting approximately 6,000 to 8,000 video views a day.

The level of sharing among Mayo Clinic stakeholders has exceeded expectations, [Lee Aase, Director Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media], said. Not only do fans and followers interact with one another on Mayo Clinic’s channels, they are frequently sharing items of use with each other. "We’ve seen cases where someone finds a video helpful and shares that video with a patient support group," Aase noted. "That draws another group of people to our community—that’s why our growth has been so organic. Community members are naturally sharing this with their friends, which then draws more folks in."

It’s well worth reading for the insights you will gain, whether you’re in healthcare or any other industry and you’re thinking about social media.

A high bar and a great act to follow.

(Aside: Lee Aase was the subject of an FIR Interview in August 2010 by my podcasting partner Shel Holtz; the pair discussed the launch of the Center for Social Media. Lee was guest co-host of FIR episode 462 in July 2009 when I couldn’t co-host. So that’s three years in a row that I’ve written about Lee in this blog. What’s next I wonder?)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Mezzo

    Clearly, Mayo is a trendsetter in the medical field as it now has 242’000 followers on twitter. This can only be great news for their patients.

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