You have never had a bigger megaphone to speak your brand's language than on the Internet. Just as your brand book guides your language for print and broadcast media, so should it shape your online conversation. If your medical center is a destination for second opinions, make sure that your Facebook fans and Twitter followers know that your hospital brings hope to those who are discouraged by their initial diagnosis. If your hospital’s brand descriptors are “expert,” “innovative,” and “compassionate,” the copy you use online should reflect that. Establish standard Web fonts and colors that fit your current brand standards. Examine your logo suite to ensure that you have options that are tailored to common Web, mobile and social media formats.
There’s a lot you can’t control online, but here’s one thing you can: How your hospital brand identity is presented on the Web properties you own. Consistency is the key element of branding. Use that line when your bariatric surgeon says he needs a “different” microsite because it’s part of his Weight Management Institute. Do not be tempted to create microsites that have a different look and feel. A consumer should be able to land on any of your Web properties and know immediately that they’ve found you.
Just because you have a Web team and a social media manager doesn't mean you're managing your brand online. Marketers need to invest in monitoring the information they push out. Examine how users are experiencing your online brand for the best chance to adapt and survive. Are users converting into patients through your Web initiatives? Do you know what consumers are saying about your hospital on Yelp? How do they evaluate your doctors on Angie's List? For help, use a social media monitoring service. These services will monitor your brand and your competition across social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as well as from blogs and online forums.
Brand management online is a long-term commitment as long as the Internet is popular with your consumer audience. There are no one-and-done solutions; it's a constant measuring and analyzing of your online brand, how consumers are interacting with it, and what you can do to keep it sharp, relevant and consistent. There is no more important marketing work than managing the value of your brand. As the saying goes, your brand is your lifeboat. Don’t ever, ever leave the lifeboat.