By John Smith
Business communications is in the midst of a radical transformation through the rapid emergence of social media — from self-publishing on blogs to instant communication on Twitter and networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. If managed correctly, social media can be harnessed as a powerful tool for business. If ignored, competitors will have a significant opportunity to gain an advantage. A medical device company should be ready to leverage social media to help clients build business and introduce and address issues, such as accountable care. Social media has become a necessary strategy in which managing ongoing execution and keeping ahead of this rapidly changing phenomenon will pay tremendous dividends.
Social media offers an immediate and direct communications channel for medical device companies to speak to its customers and other key audiences. Having a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, in particular, gives device companies an opportunity to introduce, educate and comment on multiple issues affecting the industry, whether they be policy, product or competitive issues. Social media is a form of public relations and grew out of that discipline. But unlike traditional media relations which targets publications both online and offline, social media has the ability to access individuals directly and enable a device company to have one-on-one conversations with its key audiences. Discussion of the issue can be initiated from the company or the individual, and this interaction fosters a more personal relationship between company and client. This characteristic is particularly helpful in dealing with accountable care because each client will have different issues, different problems and details to address in order to achieve this goal. Social media allows medical device companies an almost consultative approach to its clients’ problems, in addition to broadly educating them on accountable care.
LinkedIn, the first to gain widespread prominence and use, is primarily a business-oriented site designed to link colleagues of like-minded professions together, offering professional and industry insights, connections, as well as job searches. From the standpoint of building a reputation as an accountable care advocate, LinkedIn offers the ability to educate, in a more direct way, clients and industry players about a company’s ability to move the accountable care mandate forward.
Facebook and Twitter are even more flexible and personal. Both offer a company access to audiences of similar interests and industries. Facebook, like LinkedIn, enables a device company to communicate directly with its audiences, answer questions, introduce and address issues and develop a personal relationship with other individuals on the client side. Facebook has also become an important channel for companies to post news. Twitter, also known as "micro-blogging", offers similar capabilities, but is limited to 140 characters per "tweet". Twitter, however, tends to allow and encourage more immediate initiation and response, enabling device companies to comment, educate and alert clients on multiple issues. Twitter also enables companies to develop a database of "followers" who are essentially prospects as well as clients, becoming a new business tool. Its amazing how business can get new customers for free from twitter, for example last week I were just searching around twitter and I came across food vacuum sealers, I have not even been thinking about buying a vacuum sealer but after I read their reviews I bought one myself to give it a try.
This is the final blog in this series highlighting a variety of communications tools available to medical device companies to address the important mandate of its customers becoming Accountable Care Organizations. I welcome your comments and thoughts on these blogs. Please contact me at email@example.com. I will be continuing to blog on this site in the coming months on a variety of issues affecting the industry.
John Smith, a vice president at Dodge Communications, has more than 20 years healthcare communications and marketing experience with life science, medical technology and healthcare companies. He has developed and overseen program planning, communications and marketing strategy, media relations, positioning and Medicaid reimbursement programs for therapeutic, biotechnology and medical technology clients while serving as senior vice president and healthcare practice leader in the Boston offices of Fleishman-Hillard, Manning Selvage & Lee and Brodeur Worldwide. John can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.