How Bethany Deines and Betsy Wood Apply Trust Agent Principles on behalf of the Children's Medical Center of Dayton, Ohio

BlogHer Original Post

Bethany Deines and Betsy Woods

Last month, shortly after Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith was published, there was discussion on nonprofit blogs about how to apply some of the principles to a nonprofit context.  Kivi's Nonprofit Marketing Blog wrote a review of the book and offered a summary of the four principles in the book that she thought nonprofits could apply.  

Frank Barry chimed in with a follow up post illustrating trust agent characteristics with nonprofit examples.  I republished the post on my blog and offered a free copy to a nonprofit who left the best comment about how their organization is applying these principles.   Bethany Deines and Besty Woods from the The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, Ohio were the lucky winners. 

Here's an interview with them about how they using social media part of their hospital's patient relations and communications strategies.

1.)      What is the objective your social media strategy?

Our objective is to engage and educate our stakeholders – influential moms (18-49+), donors, employees, volunteers, new moms, community leaders, etc – through an affordable medium that reaches a broad audience. Our social media strategy is an integral part of our overall marketing and public relations strategy.  We always have to be thinking of new ways to connect to our stakeholders, communicate with them, then listen and respond. We are also looking for methods that are interactive and help us form trusting relationships with those various constituencies.

We (marketing and development) already knew the power of viral marketing through Twitter, FB and You Tube, but we had to back it up w/ research to prove it to our directors and senior management team.

We started using You Tube, FB and Twitter – saw the positive impact it had in getting our message out and then told senior management about it. They LOVED the idea and many of them joined social networks to see first hand what we were doing.  Our organization has a culture of being able to try new things in low risk experiments.  What we do is tell the story about how and why it’s working.  That gets us further support to continue our efforts.

2.)      How does your strategy support or enhance other communications/fundraising channels?

We post content (safety tips, flu tips, event information, etc.) that already exists on our website or are media stories from local media outlets on our social media channels like Facebook. Our ultimate goal is to drive traffic back to our website. Social media is just another avenue to tell our story and get the word out about what we do and educate the public (both locally and nationally).   Social media brings attention to our fundraising campaigns to an audience we might not be able to reach otherwise.  We very successfully used Twitter and Facebook during our Telethon to post updates. This increased our online giving significantly.

3.)      How do you measure success?

Finding hard data in the ROI of social media is difficult.   We measure success by the number of fans and followers we have but also by the quality of fans and followers (# of people that share our message, comment on a story, etc.).   We also share comments from followers with other people on staff and often include quotes or mentions in our e-newsletters.    We regularly share what people are saying about our organization with senior management or individual departments mentioned.  

4.)      Does your hospital have a social media policy?

Yes, we do. The only concern was potentially violating HIPPA laws.  However, we were already mindful of HIPPA laws and have existing protocols and policies - so we just made sure we followed those in our social media use. I also researched other social media policies and read up on what others were including and advising people to do – again, Twitter was a GREAT resource for this to learn about what others were doing in the non-health care world.   The risk manager had a concern that someone would write something negative about us.  We had a discussion about how using social media was another form of providing excellent customer service and listening. Often times we find if someone says something negative about us, many fans/followers immediately respond about why the negative comment isn’t true and do our job for us. 

5.)      How do you build relationships and engage with your audience with social media?

We don't like to stream content on our Facebook Page or Twitter feed. There are two marketing staff members and one person in the development office who share the responsibility of interacting with our fans on Facebook and our followers on Twitter.  We are known for putting a human face on our social media.  Many fans and followers have told us that they recommend us to others based on our interaction with them on social networks.  Social media can generate good word of mouth - if you take the time to build relationships.

It’s all about listening on social media and responding as a ‘real, live’ person. So many organizations have “ghost” tweeters or people that just send out a blast of information but you never hear anything in response. We (development and marketing) respond to questions, comments and thank people for their kind words or sharing their story. Social media is two-way communication. It’s not just putting messaging out there and hope it sticks. Messages should be relevant, timely and interesting to your audiences.

There’s a local mom from the Beavercreek, Ohio area on Twitter and she has followed us for a few months.  She replied to a posting I put up about our new urgent care in Springboro and said how wonderful it was and how much she loved Dayton Children’s. I of course responded with a thank you and asked her where she lived and how many kids she had and what her experience had been at Dayton Children’s. She’s one of those “influencer moms” that you want – has a mommy blog, active on Facebook and Twitter and will tell everyone if her experience was great or horrible. We ended up meeting her and did an interview on video we produced for our  "A Minute for Kids campaign."  She has become a HUGE advocate for Dayton Children’s and will tell everyone she knows about us. 
6.)      If you were to offer some lessons learned to others just started off with social media, what would be your advice?

Sign up for Facebook and Twitter now and just start listening to people. Follow other similar organizations, find out what they are doing (what’s working, what’s not), talk to other marketing professionals, research and read articles on social media. Be willing to change and have a new outlook on marketing, public relations and fundraising. Be willing to try something new and don’t be afraid of failure. We, Dayton Children’s, knew we HAD to be involved with social media and just started doing it - that’s how you learn. Don’t be afraid of people that will say negative things about your organization – use social media as another tool to improve customer service. Negative comments is a matter of when, not if. It WILL happen, but if you respond and fix the problem, you will have obtained a very loyal fan/follower/customer, etc.  Be willing to invest a certain amount of time daily in posting information. You can’t create a Facebook page, YouTube channel or Twitter account and them let it sit idle.  Conversely, you can’t go overboard either and post so frequently that your audience begins to tune you out.

Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE for Nonprofits, writes Beth's Blog.

Follow BlogHer on LinkedIn:

More Like This


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.