The American College of Cardiology takes the pulse of social media - SmartBrief

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The American College of Cardiology takes the pulse of social media

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Social Media

Today’s guest post is from Doug Naegele, an avid SmartBrief on Social Media reader and inveterate entrepreneur. His firm, Infield Communications, lives at the intersection of health 2.0 and mobile solutions. Last week, he interviewed Emily Zeigenfuse of The American College of Cardiology.

The ACC is a professional association that serves more than 39,000 cardiovascular professionals. It recently launched, a revamped organizational website that includes a private social network for users to discuss issues important to cardiology. Much of the content is member-sourced, and the readership is predominately doctors and other heart-centered medical professionals. Zeigenfuse led the social-network implementation of the ACC’s new website. Naegele and Zeigenfuse sat down to talk about the early challenges and successes of the project.

Why did you include a networking component as part of What was the need?

Over a year ago, the ACC started with a blog, then added Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We quickly found that our social-media followers tended to be outside our core membership, which was great for recruiting new members but didn’t reach our existing members. We decided that an ACC-hosted social-networking area, which would allow our members to add content and start conversations with each other, would be the best way to serve existing members.

How did you get upper management to sign off on social media?

Our leadership has been very open to embracing social media. It started with the blog and other social media outlets last year. Once leadership signed off on those ideas, they were “in” for expanding our networking efforts to  Last year’s decision to make Web communication a priority was the big one that allowed us to really jump headfirst into making social networking a large part of the redesigned website.

Tell us about the rollout. And how is it going now?

We went live on June 14, 2010, and we’ve had a few challenges.  The website wasn’t 100% perfect, and our readers let us know immediately. The comments box, where we expected readers to discuss medical content, was used instead for help-desk issues, which inhibited the discussion of cardiology topics.

Since then, we’ve added a separate button to report tech problems, collaborated directly with members who left complaints, and took a second look at usability. It’s been a sleepless summer, but we’ve solved a lot of problems quickly by honestly listening to and engaging our readership.

Lastly, what other trends do you see in health care social media? What’s next?

I’m very curious about how mobile devices will fit into a doctor’s daily workflow. We know our members, by virtue of being on their feet all day, spend less time in front of a computer than those of us with desk jobs. We’re also watching how patients with chronic diseases like heart disease use social media to talk about their condition so that we can reach them in those spaces.

To learn more about how your association can benefit from social-media like the ACC, check out our Buzz2010 breakfast series. The final session of the series is this Wednesday, Aug. 18, on social media and return on investment, with Olivier Blanchard. Space is limited, so sign up here.

Image credit, ivstiv, via iStock Photo