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@Mayo Clinic: An Interview with Lee Aase

11 September 2009

I would like to thank Lee Aase for his participation in the  8/28/2009 phone interview on Hospitals using Twitter. – Anita Beninger

Lee Aase, Manager of Syndication and Social Media- Mayo Clinic

Lee Aase, Manager of Syndication and Social Media- Mayo Clinic

1. Situation Analysis – Background questions/motivations for using Twitter.

* How did you learn about Twitter?

My job is the manager of syndication and social media for Mayo Clinic.  I was already working with Facebook, blogs, YouTube and  a couple of years ago I started personally using Twitter.

* When did your organization set up its (first) Twitter account? How many accounts do you have?

A year and a half ago we started our account and we have  three accounts now. We have a main Mayo Clinic account a Mayo jobs account, and a health care policy account.

* Why did your organization choose to engage with the Twitter community? How have your goals changed over time?

We wanted to claim our name to keep someone else from claiming it. You can have someone “brand jacking”, when they sign in as you but start broadcasting messages that are NOT from you. So that step was at a minimum to keep those things from happening and doing damage. For the next eight months after that, we were having automatic tweets coming from our RSS feeds. In February we said let’s get more interactive with it and it has really taken off since then.

* Describe any resistance you had to overcome to get that first account going?

There was a process that we worked thru. We really didn’t ask for any special permission to be on Twitter, we just did it. We were in the process of getting podcasts, blogs and other things going. I would not say it was not resistance it was more like well let’s makes the case for why we should do this. There was openness and here we are.

* What other social media networks do you engage with?

We engage in Facebook, YouTube, Blogs and Podcasts. We look at four basic food groups so to speak: One would be Twitter the micro messaging, the second would be Facebook in social networking, third YouTube and fourth would be blogs. So there are the four main categories.

*What is the history of Mayo Clinics blogs?

In 2007 we started a blog for an event. We have been more active with blogs since March of 2008.

* Why should people follow you? In your opinion, why might they unfollow you?

Besides being the coolest account there is.  If they are interested in medical news, medical information if they are interested in what Mayo is involved in. Health care reform or links to patient stories, it is a hub for our other social media platforms it is an easy way to subscribe and find out what is happening and then there is also opportunity for interaction too.

*Why might they unfollow you?

I guess if they were looking for some specific area and it is not focused enough. If they were just looking for cancer information. It is a general-purpose kind of feed and not a cancer only feed.

2. Planning – Strategy behind Twitter adoption.

* How did you pick the person who manages your Twitter account?

Yes, it was my decision to start the account.

* How do you integrate Twitter with your overall marketing/communications plan?

As we have new blog posts we may tweet a link. It is not every new blog posts that we are tweeting.

* How have you promoted products/services/events on Twitter?

Yes, events like the weekly Mayo radio program Medical Edge. We are using it to promote the topic for the show coming up on the following Saturday. So starting on a Monday we start tweeting the link to the blog post that has the topic, we invite people to submit their questions as tweets using the mayo radio  hashtag (#mayoradio) and then during the radio show as the discussion is going on we post updated tweets. And so it is a two-way thing last week we had questions from Phoenix, Utah and Philadelphia.

This is a one hour radio show that had just been in the local Rochester, Minnesota market until just a couple of months ago, and its really enabling use to reach a broader range of listeners and participants.

*Do you use the content from Medical Edge for podcasts?

Yes we do.

* How do you promote your Twitter account (such as email signatures, links from website, etc)?

Yes, links from the website and other social media site that we host.

* How do you manage, or not manage, the approval process by legal, pr & marketing?

For the sharing Mayo clinic blog we have an editorial team we have four editors, I am the executive editor and my assistant is the day-to-day person who is scheduling the posting and monitoring comments and triaging those out for the editors.

What was the design process for the use policy on the Sharing Mayo blog?

We looked at guidelines and polices that were used in other industries for corporate kind of blogs and just employee policies and guidelines that they had it is really pretty straight forward the foundation being that the policy exists applies to social media too. So we call these guidelines instead of policies because these were not new policies but interpretations of what these existing policies mean.

* What is your policy on following? Replies? Directs?

We are conversational and provide content of value in our tweets.

* What is your organization’s social media policy for employees?

The social media guidelines are found on the Sharing Mayo blog.

3. Implementation – How Twitter was implemented/applications used.

* Who tweets for your organization and how are they chosen? Is their identity made public on your Twitter profile? If not, why not.

Yes I tweet. There are about five of us that tweet for the Mayo account partially for Medical Edge weekend radio program.

And there are other employees who have their own accounts.

* How do you let your customers/constituents know who is tweeting for your organization (eg, web site directory)?

On the Mayo Clinic Twitter account has my name on the account and gives them my handle.

* How often do you tweet and what types of content do you tweet?

It will vary during a Saturday morning during our radio program we may have 15 or 20 tweets. In the week leading up to that two or three tweets a day about the radio program but them we will have a tweet about the a new blog post on Sharing Mayo Clinic or one of the other blogs.  So it is anywhere from 5-15 plus per day.

* How are you planning your Twitter content?

We are very opportunistic with it; another thing that we will tweet is an interesting article. If there is a story in the media or on the web that has to do with Mayo Twitter is much more  immediate so we don’t have an editorial calendar. Other than to say that we are regularly tweet about the radio program.

• How did you develop your Twitter voice?

Part of my job has been serving as official spokesmen for Mayo on various topics so I had that voice. I have my personal I use on my Twitter account to be like Mayo. Approachable but actual.

* How do you balance mission-focused tweets vs. a more casual ‘conversation’?

I guess we are not going to be just chatty on the Mayo account there is always going to be some good that we are going to accomplish with it. The good could be conversation and being responsive. We may tweet about one of our blog posts. If someone tweets a question we will say we will get that into the que for Saturday morning. It is all going to be related to something that we are trying to accomplish.

* How do you use hashtags?

We use the Mayo Radio hashtag #mayoradio as a way to gather the conversation about the radio program. We use the health care social media #hcsm, #hcmktg if there is something that we are doing that we think people who are doing social media in health care would be interested in. If we have an event such as our Transformation Symposium in September we will set up a separate hashtag for that too.

* About how much time each day is devoted to your Twitter account?

Its two minutes here and there I would not think it is an hour a day. It’s part of what we do with our other ways of communicating. I don’t know how much time I spend on the phone either.

* What tools do you use to Tweet? And do you tweet from computer/phone/both?

Tweetdeck, CoTweet, both computer and phone

* What auto-Tweet services do you use (eg, TweetLater, TwitterFeed) and why?

We use twitter feed for some of our blogs but have very few automated tweets. We are a lot more human with it now and the results speak for themselves we were at 1,200 followers in February and 7,000 something now.

* Which link shortener do you use and why?

Mainly bitly because it is build in to CoTweet and the default in TweetDeck. We use HootSuite and owly some too but mainly Bitley.

* What are your favorite tools (and why)?

I really like TweetDeck.  I like the fact that I can maintain both my personal and Mayo account on the same platform. CoTweet let’s you do that too. I like the multiple search aims I find TweetDeck helpful personally and CoTweet in that it enables multiple people to tweet for the Mayo account.

4. Goals and measurement – How was success defined and measured.

* What are your success measures?

I look at re -tweets how many times that we tweet something and it gets passed along. We are looking at engagements and conversations.

• How do you measure ROI?

We are evaluating services that would social media monitoring service set-up that would give us some built in measures aside from evaluating RT and followers.

* What demographics are you targeting on Twitter? Have you found a ‘generation gap’?

We are not targeting demographics we market target interests.  The demographic that you get is what is on Twitter, not teenagers but it’s going to be college and above mainly. It’s much more oriented to the subject than people are interested in. Last week we targeted people interested in Alzheimer’s, so probably people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who have parents with Alzheimer’s or people in their 60’s who are concerned that they might get it people who are interested in that topic. So that’s what we were tweeting about because that was the radio program was about.

* How do you see Twitter fitting into your long-term communications strategy?

Wither Twitter itself is the platform for every long term is depends how stable Twitter and if it can build a business model that works the kind of micro messaging and networking that it represents is going to be really important.

5. Lessons learned – Reflections on Twitter/Best Practices/Role models.

* What is something you wish you had known before you started your Twitter account?

I guess I think that it’s really something that you have to experience it for yourself.   If I would have know the benefits of being more interactive instead of doing the feeds I would have done that more. I didn’t have a good desktop tool to manage multiple accounts and having TweetDeck has helped me be more productive with both on my personal and on my Mayo account.

* Who are your role models in the Twitter community?

We have community there a people like Ed Bennett, Tom Spit, Bill Ferris, and Meredith Gould. We all kind of learn from each other and you develop community norms.

Do you think the health care medical community is supportive?

Yes, there are lots of smaller hospitals or people thinking of getting into social media and take it to leadership and say there are allot of organizations our size that are doing it. From the my perspective being able to show what Mayo is doing is good for Mayo that the word gets around it makes our social platforms more successful but secondly I think more of this should happen. These are really powerful tools for collaboration and sharing information help others say well this is not crazy Mayo Clinic is doing it. We are not known as a fly by night operation that does not think things thru so. The fact that we are doing it can help others and that is why we post our employee guidelines so that we can help others get going with it. It was not difficult or hard or it took a little soaking time.

* Have you made a mistake on Twitter? If so, how did you address it?

I can’t say that we have had a super crisis. I had a example where I posted something that was more personal and thought I was posting it to my FaceBook and my Twitter account and it ended up that it was the Mayo and personal Twitter account, I discovered it within about five minutes and I pulled it down from the Mayo site. It was something that I would not want to put on Mayo and it wasn’t a big deal. But the one thing that made me learn make sure to double check on my TweetDeck ” powerful tool” it lets me do my personal Mayo and my Facebook profile status updates. It was good that it happened on a Saturday morning at about 7:00 a.m. when nobody is paying attention anyway.

*Is there anything else you think that people should know about using Twitter using guidelines and being successful?

To be useful to provide as you are passing along updates, if it is all self focused it is not going to be successful or helpful. But if you are passing along information, you need to think of your users and readers and consider what kind of information would they like to get.

Conversely it is just a tool, it is a blog that is 140 characters. You can use Twitter for different purposes and organizations have different twitter accounts to accomplish different purposes. You could have one that is a disaster alert for crisis communications.  These are just tools that have capabilities and you need to just look at how you want to use them to accomplish what you are trying to get done.

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