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How Ochsner Health Reaches New Audiences on Social—and Doubled its Engagement

With a strategy powered by social listening, the healthcare system shows its human side to boost brand awareness while combating misinformation

Ochsner's campus

  • 129%
    year-on-year increase in social media engagement
  • 86%
    activation among brand ambassadors
  • >5%
    traffic driven to corporate website from social in 2020, up from 3% in 2019

Ochsner's challenge

Ochsner Health is Louisiana's largest nonprofit, academic healthcare system. It comprises more than 32,000 employees and over 4,500 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties. Healthcare providers are with us for life’s most momentous occasions. Ochsner Health has grown to become the largest nonprofit, academic healthcare system in Louisiana, with countless people thankful for life-changing heart transplants, knee replacements, or cancer screenings. As Ochsner continues to expand throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the organization is putting even more focus on building brand awareness, managing its reputation, and finding meaningful and engaging ways to reach new audiences.

Hootsuite enables Ochsner to track and optimize its social media activity. It is a crucial tool in driving the success of Ochsner’s brand ambassador program, in monitoring and responding to negative sentiment, and humanizing a diverse range of content across multiple channels.

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Products used in this study

Hootsuite Enterprise
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Hootsuite Amplify
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Using audience insights to deliver more compelling content

Hootsuite Advanced Analytics delivers the metrics to identify popular posts and winning formats. New insight has helped shift the focus of Ochsner’s content output. Where previously up to 80% of content was clinical in its focus, today content has a more people-first approach with 70% addressing “lifestyle” topics such as diet, exercise, and meditation.“We can be more proactive and preventative in our approach to healthcare,” Daffin explains. “Also, we now know our content is seen as more authentic if it comes from a real person. We are featuring a greater number of employees in our storytelling. You can see a lot of people saying negative things on social media. They tend not to respond with negativity to a nurse.”Content is now more visual and personal, with visuals less staged and a growing number of user-generated images. For example, in March 2021, Ochsner posted a simple time-lapse video of a 24-hour drive-through COVID vaccination center to Facebook.

Reaching new audiences with brand ambassadors

Some messages just resonate more when they come from a person rather than a corporation. Recognizing this, the Ochsner brand ambassador program empowers employees to publish content through their personal social media accounts.

Originally launched with a handful of volunteers who were already active on social media, today the program holds regular recruitment drives, offering prizes for high performers and even credits towards an employee’s annual appraisal.

Ochsner currently has 431 ambassadors signed up representing employees from across the organization. The goal is to reach 500 additional active ambassadors this year and scale the program beyond that in the years to come.

Hootsuite Amplify allows ambassadors to customize and publish social posts from a preapproved menu of fresh content.

Reducing corporate risk by tracking negative sentiment

To protect their reputation, brands need to be able to quickly find and respond to negative conversations on social media. Using Talkwalker, Ochsner can track negative sentiment and spot critical comments on social media.Welch said, “We’ve always tried to stay on top of comments, but the process was manual. Talkwalker automates this, crawling through social platforms to spot issues. We have far more robust processes in place for funnelling potential risks through the organization.’’Ochsner now maintains a list of approved responses to common, negative feedback, and has established a formalized process for more serious complaints. There are clear service-level agreements on how the business will log, track, and close out an issue. Daffin said “We’re faster and more consistent in our response.’’

Providing reassurance during uncertain times

When the pandemic struck in 2020, Ochsner found itself on the front line of the battle with COVID-19. As events unfolded, the authenticity of Ochsner’s social content helped the public through confusing, frightening moments.Katherine Staiano, director of Digital Content, said, “This has been a fast-moving situation. Social allows us to respond quickly to misinformation with trusted medical experts. We can take to Facebook Live to address a new rumor, and crank a lot of content based on solid, factual data.”The company’s listening-informed strategy also proved to be a valuable asset in helping it combat online misinformation.Hootsuite has helped Ochsner identify the best approaches for combating misinformation campaigns. “Social has been vital in quelling fears. We’re lucky to have doctors and nurses who can speak about these issues,” Staiano said.

Looking Ahead

Ochsner regularly refreshes and renews membership in its brand ambassador program. The goal is to encourage ambassadors to post more personal, authentic content, rather than simply publishing posts from an approved list. Ochsner is also looking at using UpContent to surface non-branded content on topics that matter to specific audience niches.Ochsner also plans to increase investment in its thought leadership program, where senior management publishes content through their personal social media profiles. Adding a competitive scorecard of the most commented and retweeted posts has generated a huge uptick in engagement in the program, Daffin adds.

By shifting its focus to the human and authentic side of business, Ochsner has seen success in its overall social program. In fact, in 2019 their social program drove 3% of traffic to the corporate website, and by 2020 this grew to 5%. “This is pretty impressive considering our organic traffic surged with COVID and social still grew despite a significant increase in acquisition channels,” says Alexandra Gaudin, supervisor of Digital Content.“Our next goal is to increase our followers across all social channels. With 32,000 employees, we have an unlimited number of amazing stories. We know we can create the content audiences want to engage with.” says Daffin.

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We’ve always tried to stay on top of comments, but the process was manual. Talkwalker automates this, crawling through social platforms to spot issues. We have far more robust processes in place for funneling potential risks through the organization.
Amber Welch
assistant vice president, Digital Content and Creative Media
Ochsner Health