Meet the Experts – Kathryn Armstrong

Our next profile is with Kathryn Armstrong, who is a Senior Web Communications Producer at the Lehigh Valley Health Network. Kathryn was one my first connections on Twitter and we traded ideas and information way back in the early days. (that would be 11 months ago). She quickly set up accounts on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook and manages an active, growing community on those networks.

Please introduce yourself karmgstrong_photo
I work in the Marketing and Public Affairs department and have been here since 2002. I have responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Website, Social media and strategy development for interactive and web.

Tell us about your hospital
Lehigh Valley Health Network is located in the heart of the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania. We serve a large and diverse community and also act as a referral destination for many outlying hospitals in areas such as NICU, Heart Care, Neurosurgery, Burn Care (we have the largest burn center in the state), Trauma.

Our mission is to heal, comfort and care for the people of our community by providing advanced and compassionate health care of superior quality and value, supported by education and clinical research.

Here is our official “about us”:

What got you interested in social media?

My participation in social media goes back before the term became a “buzz”. For years I have been an active member of a list-serv about dogs. (Yes, I know). I have virtually met many people, shared many stories and created lasting friendships with people I have never met in person through this list. I joined the list in 2000 after I rescued a very injured Siberian husky from a shelter and I needed help getting him treatment and finding him a home. So, I joined the list sibernet-L@apple.ease.com. I posted my story and his to the list and people I had never met sent me enough money to pay for his life-saving surgery. These same people followed his story through recovery and ultimately adoption to a new, loving home. Many of these same people have stayed in my life all of the years since. Some I have chatted with on the phone. We have shared many virtual tears when someone’s dog died or some other tragedy struck. Quite a few sent me gifts when my daughter was born! So, all these years later when Social Media became the next big thing, I felt very compelled to embrace it because I knew of the power it held to bring people together and create community!

What aspects of Social Media do you focus on for your hospital?
We are trying to do as much as we can and experiment as much as we can with everything

Is there a particular Social Network that you prefer for your hospital program?
I started out as a great evangelist of Twitter, but I am really beginning to embrace Facebook! I think it has great potential.

What are the goals of your social media program?
One goal is to be there and be involved. One of my mentors (a guy named Ed Bennett) once asked if people look for us, will we be there? My answer is yes!

Additionally, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to create a communications network in the social media world so that important information can be disseminated quickly. This seems like an area where social media can be a key tool!

What’s your opinion on measuring ROI for your social media efforts?
I think it’s a moving target, but one that needs to at least be watched. Currently, I have difficulty measuring ROI from the Web site. On a site that sells sneakers, the customer can hit the “buy it now” button and use their credit card to complete the transaction. We can’t do that! So, I am really more focused on closing that loop. As I see it, the ROI on Social Media comes from the engagement of the community and the relationships that we are able to build.

How much staff time do you and your team devote to social media a week?
That really varies. Some weeks it’s almost none and some weeks it’s my whole week. In the big picture, it’s only my time (I’m the only staff member who is actively engaged in SM) and we have all agreed that it is an investment that is worth it.

Did you need to “sell’ social media to upper management?
Interestingly enough, I was in the final stages of my research into SM (most of which was done on my own time) for LVHN when upper management came to us and asked if we had ever heard of Twitter. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by each other!

Can you share a success story?
Just the other day, we asked on Facebook and Twitter for one our fans/followers to volunteer for a story for our network magazine, Healthy You. We had quite a few responses and had several people tell us wonderful stories of care they received and ways they are trying to improve their health and their lives. And, we found the perfect subject for our article. This small interaction has inspired me to develop a plan to encourage more engagements with our fans.

Additionally, we received a contact from local media inspired by a video of a Twitter chat that we held on the subject of summer safety for kids. We recorded the chat with Dr. Consuelos as he sat in my office and responded to questions as I typed his answers into tweetchat. We later posted the video to YouTube and Tweeted out the link as well as posting it to Facebook. We are in the process, now, of putting together our next video “Ask Our Expert” on weight loss surgery. What’s wonderful about the experimental qualities of Social Media is that each experience is an opportunity for learning and building the next experience.

What advice do you have for Hospitals considering a social media program?
Stick your toe in and get used to the water and then go ahead and JUMP!

What changes do you think we’ll see in the future in terms of how hospitals use social media?
I think we will see a lot more acceptance as the fear dissipates.

Any final thoughts?
You have been a great guide for all of us! Thank you!

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One Response to Meet the Experts – Kathryn Armstrong

  1. Really enjoying these profiles!

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