Social media used to spread the DMC gospel
The Destination Medical Center has established a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to spread information and collect opinions from the public.
Once the DMC's community input process starts, those social media platforms will take on even more importance.
"There are two ways that we're using our social media avenues," says Jaime Rothe, a DMC manager. "One is to update and inform the community about upcoming events... We do a lot of presentations in our community and surrounding communities, so we like to post pictures from those and talk a little bit about what we're doing there. We also use these avenues to share information as well. A lot of our recent Facebook posts have been to start conversations around what other communities are doing and to learn from other areas."
Social media represents a new way for entities like the DMC to reach targeted audiences.
"The really great thing about social media is just the ability it gives people to connect and give feedback across time and space," says Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.
According to Aase, though not everyone has the time to make it to a meeting, they can still stay up to date on developments and offer their own perspective, thanks to social media.
Users can also pick and choose the information they want to learn about and opine on.
"People can choose what they want to click on and what they want to have conversations with. So as it comes up in their feed they're able to click on something that might be of interest to them," says Rothe.
Facebook most popular
At the moment, most of the back and forth dialogues take place on DMC's Facebook page. Rothe says that the DMC's Twitter account is mostly just re-tweeted and that its Pinterest page is just starting to take off. She predicts that the Pinterest page will see more use once the DMC's community input process starts up.
Pinterest is like an online cork-board, where users can 'pin' photos of things they are interested in and keep track of them in categories. The DMC's page has 12 categories, or, 'boards,' including 'Livable City', 'Arts & Culture,' and 'Ideas with Old Wood.'
Twitter is a micro-blogging site where users can post updates containing up to 140 characters and Facebook is a social-networking website that allows users to connect with friends and post messages, videos, and pictures.
Growth in followers
DMC has 2,060 Facebook likes, 126 followers on Pinterest, and 1,206 followers on Twitter. The accounts are monitored and moderated by a team of four people.
"We're really happy with the growth that we've seen. We definitely want to engage more people and have more people join the conversation," says Rothe, "As we move into the community input process this spring and summer, that's where we really want to see significant increase in those numbers."
An advertising and marketing campaign will help spread awareness of the various ways the public can connect to DMC, which Rothe believes will increase the number of people interacting with DMC on social media.
"One of the challenges of social media is not everybody is on Twitter or uses Facebook or Pinterest," she says.
To make up for that, DMC will start utilizing the more traditional avenues of television and radio to spread awareness of the project and the input process.
"You need a multi-pronged strategy to try to reach everybody," says Aase, "There was a study after [the Virginia Tech shooting] - they went back and they did a study and they asked, 'How did you find out that there was a shooter on campus?' It was interesting; some of the people said Facebook, some people said Twitter, some people said CNN, some said the overhead announcement, but there was no one thing that reached everyone."
Not just young people
Though a popular conception limits the reach of social media to young people, but that's not always the case, according to Nate Nordstrom, a DMC ambassador and the founder of brandhoot, a local web and social media company.
"Across all of our client pages, some of our most active, frequent users are actually within the ages of 50-60 range," says Nordstrom.
The Mayo Clinic's social media presence is also a facet of the DMC's online strategy. At the moment, the Mayo Clinic's Facebook following is 504,770 people strong, and it has 749,000 followers on Twitter. Much of what the DMC's social media sites post gets reposted by Mayo's.
"So we're not talking all DMC all the time," says Aase, "but it is a way of helping to raise the visibility of the project in the mix of the other things that we're talking about, too."
Rothe says that her team strives to keep up with social media trends. Each Thursday, they post a picture of something from Rochester's past as part of the popular 'Throwback Thursday' trend. One recent post featured a picture of an original public transportation bus.
"It's fun to see people comment on those types of things, and like it and share it as well," says Rothe.
"What I really like about all three of the tools that we're using right now and the culture of social media is that people are really open," says Rothe, "Face to face someone might not say 'I think this is a great idea or I think this is not such a great idea'. But in social media, I think people feel more open to sharing comments," says Rothe.
That openness does not, for the most part, come with a disrespectful tone.
"One of the great parts about social media is, especially Facebook, people use their real names. It actually makes the conversation sometimes more civil than in some of the anonymous online forums, because people are standing behind what they say," says Aase.