Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Social Media and Health Care Publishing

A lot of educational publishers aren't quite sure yet what to do with social media. They know they have to use it but they're struggling with the hows and whys of it.

They're working through questions like:
  • Should social media be the responsibility of Marketing, Editorial, or Sales?
  • Who should coordinate platforms and posts?
  • What should be our core message when we deal with so many different market segments?
  • How do we take advantage of each platform's strengths while maintaining our core message?
And perhaps most important, how will we know if we succeed?

Answering those questions

Each of us publishers is answering those questions, and many others, in their own way. There's no one size fits all answer, nor should there be.

The critical component of our efforts should be to explore the many options this constantly changing tool offers and to use each one as best we can to reach and influence the people we serve. I'll give you an example, using myself as the case.

I've been using social media strictly for my role at F.A. Davis for a couple of years now and have developed a kind of brand, which I call, surprisingly enough, Andy McPhee. I've been able to gather about 650 Twitter followers, more than 900 Facebook friends and fans, more than 1,000 Google Plussers, and assorted folks following me on my blog and YouTube and Pinterest channels.

Not awful for a simple acquisitions editor at a small health care publisher in downtown Philadelphia, but not exactly Justin Timberlake either.

I try to provide news and information I think my followers would be interested in and rarely present promotional information. I don't hit hard on promotion because, for me, gaining trust is more important than pushing individual titles.

Essentially my social media goals follow my company's overall philosophy of treating each customer with respect. With all those efforts, though, I reach a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of students, teachers, and practitioners in the markets I serve — medical assisting, medical billing and coding, health information technology, and physician assistant.

Yet I persist, and here's why.

The payoff

Publishers like me can use social media to help fulfill several key goals:
  • Attract potential authors and reviewers
  • Build a community we can tap for market knowledge and key trends
  • Identify thought leaders in that community and work with them to further publishing goals
  • Enhance our moral standing among the customers we serve
  • Detect trends and concerns of our customers and act on them accordingly
  • Strengthen brand identity
Meeting those goals takes work and persistence, but the payoffs are worth it.

Fer sure.