Connection is Critical in the Social Media Networking Space

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

People engaged in social media networking platforms are using it to build and strengthen relationships, establish trust, network and it may get them a walk down the aisle.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review, “Social Strategies That Work,” author Mikotaj Jan Piskorski writes that dating websites collectively grossed       $1 billion in 2010 by connecting strangers, and as a result an estimated one in six new marriages occurred.

Dating websites have been successful in the social media networking space, but why are some companies failing? In a word…Connection.

Piskorski studied more than 60 companies in the online social space from various industries ranging from manufacturing, consumer packaged goods to financial services. Companies which performed poorly despite engaging in social media networking platforms did so because they were only interested in trumpeting their own commercial message or used it to seek customer feedback.

Consumers aren’t interested in connecting with stilted companies; they want to connect with people.

“Customers reject such overtures because their main goal on the platforms is to connect with other people, not with companies. That behavior isn’t hard to understand. Imagine sitting at a dinner table with friends when a stranger pulls up a chair and says, “Hey! Can I sell you something?” You’d probably say no, preferring your friends’ conversation over corporate advances. Many companies have learned that lesson the hard way.

In contrast, the companies that found significant returns devised social strategies that help people create or enhance relationships. These work because they’re consistent with users’ expectations and behavior on social platforms. To return to our dinner analogy, a company with a social strategy sits at the table and asks, “May I introduce you to someone or help you develop better friendships?” That approach gets a lot more takers.”

Health care professionals and health care organizations

The way in which companies are learning to engage in social media networking to create and enhance relationships, health care organizations and health care professionals are actively engaging in the space to accomplish the same goals.

Patients and health care consumers aren’t interested in connecting with organizations that broadcast their own commercial message; they want to connect with people who can provide and share valuable health information and direction.

While more and more health care organizations begin to adopt and engage in social media networking, it’s critical that that they engage in the social media space to connect with health care consumers.

Johnson & Johnson

“I think health care companies have a great opportunity to connect with patients, physicians, nurses and other digital health organizations through the use of social media. By listening, sharing and learning, we will be able to participate in this conversation, and hopefully provide a more open, personalized and effective means of communication with health care consumers and professionals,” said Rob Halper, a director in the Corporate Communication department at Johnson & Johnson.

So while some social media networking sites may be helping people tie the knot, health care companies, and health care professionals including physicians, nurses and other providers, can help tie people to healthier living.

Your turn

We would love to learn how you use social media networking.  Health care professionals, do you connect and engage with health care consumers? Consumers, why is social media networking valuable for you?

As always, thank you for your valuable time.

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