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Dec 21

interval_coverThe topic of social media return-on-investment (ROI) continues to be popular as innovators look to justify their efforts and laggards look for excuses. Compared to more tried-and-true marketing campaigns, the return on investment involved with social media can be hard to quantify.

Think Interval has contributed to the conversation with their white-paper, “Yes We Can: Measuring Marketing Performance for Hospitals and Health Systems.” It reassures health-care companies that while setting up consistent and useful measurement standards can be a difficult and time-intensive project, establishing a system of gauging marketing results in a Social Media (SM) environment is not only possible but crucial. They recommend a three-tiered system of “Marketing Performance Measurements.”

Financial Metrics provide the traditional ROI. How much money has your campaign brought in versus how much it cost? Financial metrics, if you have them, are the easiest to draw conclusions from, but getting them can be difficult, often requiring customer and patient actions to be tracked over long periods of time.


Action Metrics lack the bottom-line punch of financial metrics, but still deliverable measurable, concrete results. For example, a hospital offering a free booklet on the risks of arthritis can measure the number of requests for the information. Often these actions can be roughly equated with a financial outcome. Any campaign that can’t efficiently provide a financial metric should take care to track as many actionable angles as possible.

Attitudinal Metrics simply measure the attitudes and opinions of a selected audience. These could be the results of surveys, polls, focus groups, interviews, or even anecdotes. While these can be a useful gauge of what people are saying about you, it is important to keep in mind that attitudes often do not correlate with behavior. As a result, attitudinal metrics are usually the least useful of the three.

With definitions of what you can measure in hand, the paper goes on to discuss how to measure the success (or lack thereof) of a campaign. The first step, the micro-level, is concerned with figuring out how to measure the results of specific marketing activities. To quote the paper, “your goal is to answer the question ‘Did this campaign work?’ with a definitive ‘Yes, and here’s the evidence to back it up.’” The report offers a fairly detailed run-down of what you should be measuring as results vs. actions, and how exactly you should look at these results. First, define what actions you will be taking. An action can be anything, the paper says, from a simple one-sheet brochure to an expensive television spot. If your metric is your end-goal, then try to include as many activities in this metric as possible. Open-houses, phone reminders, promotional websites-it all counts.

Make sure to set an objective (for example, “200 new appointments this month”) and take note of your current baseline (”75 new appointments last month”) to compare the results of your campaign to (”225 new appointments”). Make sure to look into the relative results of previous attempts to boost the same or similar branches of your organization, and make sure the source of your metrics and whose responsibility each aspect of the campaign falls to are also noted.

We’ve written in the past that at Kru we think social media ROI needs to be based on the purpose of your social media efforts. For example, using social media to “listen” is akin to conducting a focus group, and proving ROI isn’t necessary or practical. But if your goal is to get them to buy your product, or visit your website, then hard ROI metrics are possible and should be pursued.

Aug 17

Vibrant patient communities are the holy grail of health educators and marketers alike. While some organizations choose to throw up a Facebook group, others have decided to create their own destination site. One of the most successful of these is, the result of a collaboration between JDRF and Novo Nordisk. I recently caught up with the JDRF’s, Rachael Lewinson…

lewinson2Kevin Kruse:  Tell me about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and about

Rachael Lewinson: At JDRF our mission is to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes through research.  So traditionally all of our activities have had a very strong research focus, and in more recent years-although research is still our core mission-we’ve started to focus more on outreach, particularly to adults with type 1.

About two years ago we came up with this idea for Juvenation. The original idea was to provide new opportunities for our great volunteers to connect with each other more readily and freely, regardless of geographic location.  They are our most valuable resource, so we wanted to give them new and better tools to work with.

Kruse:  That’s great. So how did it actually come to fruition?

Lewinson:  We kept trying to get it going internally but we just didn’t have the resources. Then Novo Nordisk approached us after they did the DAWN Youth study, where they interviewed a bunch of young people with diabetes to determine their needs. They found that one of the biggest gaps for them was social and psychological support, so they started looking for ideas on how to meet that need. We had partnered with them on other things in the past, so they came to us thinking that we might be a good partner for that.  They loved the idea for Juvenation and decided to become the founding sponsors.

juvenation1Kruse:  How does the site work today?

Lewinson:  We just launched in November of 2008 so we are still adding features, but all the basic functionality is in place, which let’s you create a profile, join discussion groups and forums, accept friend requests and create and comment on blogs.

Kruse:  Who actually built the platform? Did you work with an outside vendor?

Lewinson:  We work with Ignite Health. We are very happy with the work they do.

Kruse:  It launched at the end of last year, what are the results?

Lewinson:  We currently have more than 6,200 members, just from announcing it to our e-newsletter subscribers, Facebook and Twitter followers, and website visitors.  We haven’t really marketed it to the “outside world” yet.

Kruse:  Congratulations.

“We currently have more than 6,200 members…”

Lewinson:  Thank you. And the members are very active on the site. We are approaching nearly 10,000 posts a month. Plus there are also about three to four times as many visitors as members on the site at any given time.

Kruse:  How did you promote the site or how are you getting the word out?

Lewinson:  Well, other than the original kick-off event on World Diabetes Day, it’s been all internal vehicles. We have three different e-newsletter lists that we have put ads in, and we also have an ad in Countdown magazine.  We also gave a challenge to our chapters in May to try and recruit 25 members by the end of the month in order to hit our goal of 5,000 members, and it worked.

We also send announcements through Facebook and Twitter.

Kruse: Other than traffic, have you measured any other outcomes?

Lewinson: Yes.  We have found that people actually improved their diabetes care just in the short time since we launched the site; they are taking better care of themselves.

Kruse: How do you know that?

Lewinson:  We did a survey of members in April.  For half of them, is the first diabetes community they have been involved in. Some of our findings…

  • more than half of the respondants have found the emotional support they were looking for
  • 69% feel the site has helped them significantly feel better about Type 1 Diabetes
  • 50% say it’s actually increased the attention they pay to their diabetes care.

Kruse:  Has Novo Nordisk been pleased with the results, too?

Lewinson:  Yes, they have.

Kruse:  Any lessons learned from the project or advice to give to others?

Lewinson:  For us, it was important to find a community manager that was already experienced in social networking and respected in the diabetes community. We chose Gina Capone to manage Juvenation because she founded and runs Diabetes Talkfest, another social network, so she is very familiar with the territory.  She in turn has “deputized” some of the more active participants on Juvenation to help her moderate certain groups and make sure we are responding to anyone with a more critical need, like depression or suicide. We have developed policies around those issues and others, and now have a full-scale training for volunteer moderators on the site.

Also, the more feedback you can get from your members and then respond, the better. When we surveyed Juvenation members about what they’d like to see in future versions of the site, most of them expressed frustration about trying to get their friends to understand what it was like to have diabetes. From that feedback we ended up taking a lot of the statements that they were making and made an educational resource center that they can share with their friends.

Kruse: This has clearly been a very successful health 2.0 project. Congrats and thanks for the interview.

Lewinson: Thank you.

Note: Rachael will be presenting the case and answering questions at the e-Patient Connections Conference in October.

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Jul 09

pr_cover1I just released our newest white paper, Patients Rising: How to Reach Empowered, Digital Health Consumers.

Download here:

May 26

The real value of social media is that it gives you the ability to listen,” one consultant offered.

Another panelist suggested, “I think Twitter and blogs should be used more for corporate communications and PR than for brand promotion.”

The Professor tried to tackle the big issue, “You can’t really measure ROI of social media, but if you look at a traditional marketing model, and assume social media leads to even a 1% increase in awareness, that should lead to big gains in sales and profits.

I heard these comments from distinguished panelists at recent forum on the pharmaceutical industry’s use of social media. Each comment was offered in response to a question from the audience, and each comment on its own is very valid.

But what wasn’t addressed was that these comments taken all together raise an even larger issue: What is the purpose of social media, and is the return on investment (ROI) question even valid?roi1

The dreaded ROI question seems to come from those who aren’t themselves familiar with social media; many skeptical marketers ask, “What’s the ROI of Twitter or YouTube?

If social media should be used to LISTEN, then the dreaded ROI question can be batted away with the comparison, “What’s the ROI of focus groups?“  Clearly marketers use focus groups to gain insights all the time and don’t ever pause to calculate its ROI.

If social media is to be used for PUBLICITY, then the ROI question is easily handled with the counter, “What’s the ROI of press releases?”  Press releases are still the bread and butter of PR firms and corporate communication departments and nobody ever asks to see the link between a press release and an increase in market share.

If social media is to be used to increase sales, and I think it can (I can hear the gasps already!), then you can track ROI the same way you would track your other online media campaigns. Like other e-marketing campaigns your call to action can be tracked in total clickthroughs and conversions on specific landing pages.

And all of this is part of the problem, and power, of social media. It can be used for all three purposes: Listen, Promote, Sell.  And it gets confusing to talk about social media when you aren’t clear about what the intent is. Focus groups and surveys give you market intelligence, but they don’t actually promote. Press releases and media tours are great to build awareness, but you don’t learn much about the market. And direct sales efforts drive sales, but isn’t optimal for listening or awareness building.

Social media lets you listen, promote, and sell. And that makes it great, and that can make it confusing.

So what do you use it for? What ROI are you expecting?