Strategic Planning that LinkedIn
Organizations should have an established strategic communications plan that includes their mission, goals, objectives and target audience before leaping into the new media fray.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) recently decided to use LinkedIn for their Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) campaign. HP2020 provides science-based, 10-year national objectives to help Americans “attain high-quality, longer lives, free of preventable diseases, disability, injury, and premature death.” HP2020 is the product of an extensive feedback process that integrates input from public health professionals, the public, and various government level departments.
ODPHP wanted this engaged community to become the ambassadors of Healthy People 2020 after it was launched. It was a priority to connect with those aware of and involved in HP2020 while expanding into the non-health sector professional arena (such as those working in education, housing and non-profit).
But where would the continued engagement take place? ODPHP recognized that it wasn't a question of “which platform?“ but more of a strategic question of "What does our community want and where do they go to gather information?"
ODPHP’s research found that most people use Facebook for personal interests and interactions with family and friends. But ODPHP wanted a platform that tailored to individuals’ professional lives and fostered a professional online community - thus, they chose LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has more than 100 million members and allows anyone to create a Group for free. LinkedIn offers certain group customizations, integration with twitter, automatic confirmation emails to help with group membership, comments and discussions moderation (before going live), and members can “like” content and "follow" one another to carry conversations beyond the group setting. (However, LinkedIn does not offer any metrics evaluation for their free groups).
ODPHP tweeted and emailed out information on their LinkedIn group to encourage people to get involved early. Today HP2020 LinkedIn Group now has over 1,000 members and a number of ongoing conversations. Last October, ODPHP celebrated Health Literacy Month with a live twitter chat. (Read the related Health Out Loud blog post.) The event was a success and the participants wanted to continue the discussion. On the HP2020 LinkedIn Group, health literacy discussions among group members have cropped up organically, looping in new audiences while also providing a new platform for the discussion in a format that allows for more in-depth interaction. This offers an interesting example of how to cross-promote within and between different social media platforms, and how they can complement rather than compete with each other. As a result of the continued interest in health literacy, there are now monthly #healthlit chats sponsored by Health Literacy Missouri that cover an array of subjects, with one recent chat covering the Affordable Care Act.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. By clearly defining their target audience first, ODPHP carefully crafted a solid strategic communications plan that takes significant advantage of a third party platform.
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