Time invested was among the biggest predictors of success for a hospital's Facebook page, according to a recent study.
Ricky Leung, assistant professor of health management and informatics at University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, presented his findings during the Medicine 2.0 Congress recently in Boston. He examined factors affecting the adoption and use of Facebook by 120 hospitals listed by the Missouri Hospital Association, according to Clinical Innovation+Technology.
Between February and September in 2011, Leung found growth of 8 percentage points in hospital-sponsored Facebook pages, from 39 percent of the hospitals sampled to 47 percent. The average number of "likes" grew from 181 to 1,321 and pages of discussions also increased, from 26 to 53.
The major types of wall posts included informational posts, discussion posts and reputation-building posts. Hospital size also played a big role in success, Leung found.
Positive news, such as birth announcements were popular, while Leung noted that those without positive news, those lacking a circle of social media friends and those lacking strong Internet connectivity were less able to make use of social media.
Though hospitals increasingly are turning to social media as part of their branding initiatives, there's a "fine line" in what the public will accept in terms of Facebook advertising, according to a Kaiser Health News article from July. People tend to find advertising targeted to their health conditions creepy, according to the article.
Social media's differentiator is the ability to initiate interaction, discussion and gather feedback. Obstetrician Jeff Livingston, for instance, said that comments from 15 patients helped him to learn more about what women who have suffered miscarriages want to hear from their doctors.