It’s Time to Make Friends with Facebook
In case you missed the big news last week, Facebook announced that it has added its 200 millionth member. That’s right – Facebook Nation is now the fifth largest country in the world. If your temptation is to discredit the impact of this amazing growth on healthcare by assuming that these new members come from the ranks of teenagers and college students, you would be making a big mistake. A majority of Facebook users are now over 35, and the fastest growing segment of Facebook users is actually women over 55. According to CNN, “There are now about 1.5 million female users older than 55 on the site — roughly a 550 percent increase over six months ago.” As a 33-yr old who has recently received friend requests from my mother and several of her friends, I can personally attest that the AARP-ization of Facebook is for real.
Facebook’s meteoric rise has led some analysts to claim that it will eventually challenge Google as the gateway to the Internet. This argument has gained steam coupled with some recent chinks in Google’s financial results and a management shakeup at rival MySpace. True, Facebook does have its detractors. Critics are quick to point out that the social media giant has yet to turn a profit, gets much of its growth overseas, and lags far behind rival MySpace in terms of advertising revenue. However, the reality is that 22% of all Internet users are on Facebook, and many of these Facebook users are now researching knee replacements, prostate cancer, and other perils of middle-age.
We here at Greystone.Net have been on the social media bandwagon for some time now, and our message to hospital webmasters remains the same. Social media is something that your organization must embrace, and a strategic, goal-driven approach works best. At this point, however, if your organization’s strategy does not include Facebook, then you may want to reconsider. Facebook has clearly become the new 800-pound gorilla of social media. With 550% new growth and 1.5 million new users in six months – many from a key demographic for healthcare – Facebook has simply become too important for your organization to ignore. At last count, 88 hospitals or health care systems had active pages on Facebook. Why doesn’t yours?