The challenges of using social media for marketing purposes — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

From the Chicago Tribune

In an era when marketers spend billions on managing social media, is that investment worthwhile? Should firms actively guide, promote and shape online conversations, or leave them to grow organically?

To investigate this, my colleague Amalia Miller from the University of Virginia and I recently studied what happens when hospitals started to actively manage their profiles on Facebook. We focused on Facebook because it’s the most visited media site in the U.S., accounting for 20% of all time spent on the Internet. We also chose it because the Facebook Places initiative created a page for every single hospital in the U.S., allowing organizations to choose whether to actively manage their pages or not.

We selected hospitals for two reasons. First, they are so regulated that we have far better data on them than for most other organizations in the U.S. economy. Second, there have been a lot of questions about whether it is wise for health care organizations to step into social media, both from a patient privacy perspective and from a cost-benefit perspective.

We found that when hospitals started managing their Facebook pages, they began to receive a lot more likes, visits and comments — from their employees, not their customers. Conversations involving patients actually decreased.

Read the full post at the Chicago Tribune.

Catherine Tucker is the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Marketing at MIT Sloan. 

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