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Kaiser Permanente social media case study — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evan Perkins of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

2:50 —’s Lauren Clevenger introduces Kaiser Permanente’s VP of Brand Communication, Holly Potter.

2:51 — Holly: I should give you a sense of my perspective to begin with: I come from PR, and I still have accountability for PR and social media as a significant part of our portfolio. Literally every person on the PR team has social media responsibilities. We need to think about extending our stories through social as well as our internal communications teams.

2:53 — Holly: We were able to get some money last year to rebuild our organizational news site and worked with our for-profit organizations. We made the decision to blow up both sites and start from scratch. We had the content, but we had to redesign everything.

2:55 — Holly says the way people are consuming information is changing. One year ago, people weren’t using as much mobile or using social to share information.

2:57 — Holly: We’re finding that the more people use mobile, the more information they’re going to consume. People are more willing to turn to multiple news sources and we wanted to be those news sources.

2:59 — Holly: Traditional news sources are losing writers, and they’re hungry for content. We wanted to fill that need. We were driven by the idea, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” -Wes “Scoop” Nisker.

3:01 — Holly: It all began with content. We had to go out and find the stories that mattered to our organizations. We launched It had responsive design (even for Blackberries).

We write feature stories, we have seven blogs, we just launched a podcast series, all of our social channels link up, and we have our Twitter feed on the home page. We share content from all of our social channels, including grant information for people who can’t afford medical services. It’s the number one visited page on the site. We also share organizational information.

3:03 — Holly: We operate this like a newsroom. Every day our team gets together for about ten minutes. We go over issues, things to be mindful of, or upcoming events. That keeps the entire team updated — all 50 of them.

Then, we have a team meeting discussing what’s coming the following week. We talk about research studies being published and how to take advantage of the content. We spend about an hour every month talking about our opportunities coming for the next 60 days.

3:05 — Over the course of 9 weeks, we’ve seen really strong traffic. It’s up 80% in traffic since last year. We also have a less than 1% bounce rate.

3:06 — Surprisingly, the traffic is not from our employees — the majority comes from Google. People are searching on Kaiser Permanente’s site and KP Health News. We’re incredibly pleased with these stats and hope they hold.

3:07 — Holly: We can add depth to the stories we tell through KP Health News. For example, as you know, last month there was a typhoon in the Philippines. Since many of our nurses are from the Philippines, we knew a strong segment of our employee population was concerned with what was going on there. But we knew it would take time to look at how to help with long-term recovery efforts. We launched a Q&A blog to discuss the best philanthropic route: what was inappropriate or appropriate.

3:09 — Holly explains how this was shared:

  • Social
  • Feature
  • Press Release
  • Coverage
  • Blog

3:10 — Holly: The dispatch blog helped put a human face on the doctors in our recovery efforts.

Q & A:

Q: How did you originally decide to go with a unique URL than decide to have a different presence?

A: Holly: is predominantly a member site — it’s where our members go to look into their personal health records. is derivative of that. It’s unique content for our members and employees to go to for information. For non-members searching for organic content and policymakers it helps them see if we are meeting standards from a regulatory perspective.

Q: Can you talk to us about the resources you had and what it takes to produce this?

A: Holly: We were able to reach the end of last year not spending as much as we expected to. How many of you have random websites thrown up all over your organization? Lots of people come to us saying they want to be on their own website. We have a philanthropic organization completely different from every corporate website we have. We’re bringing them into Share to help consolidate and customize the content to make it rich people are searching for.

Q: How is Kaiser Permanente different from Kaiser Health News?

A: Holly: To give you a sense of how KP Health News and Kaiser Permanente came to be: They come from the same founder who wanted an integrated healthcare organization. His legacy was with Kaiser Permanente, and his family created an organization called Kaiser Health News — including the family history.

Q: We’re also plagued with a lot of the same regulations as a health communications team. How do you get something through approval from 15 people and expedite the process?

A: Holly: First, I love my lawyer. I think sometimes our team is actually more conservative than she is. About a year ago we started talking to our team about what we were comfortable doing and what we wanted to do. We asked our lawyer if she wanted to review everything. She said to put your thinking cap on and to consider what was logical and come to her with sensitive stuff or anything they were uncomfortable about.

The majority of our content actually goes through a limited review cycle. Part of it is from building trust through blogging. Our first blog was about “How to cook healthy food.” We figured we couldn’t create anything safer. After that, we worked on our history. We started in these safe places. Then, when the Haiti earthquake hit in 2010, we had built in enough trust to ask permission to create a blog and make it live over the weekend. We had taken the time to build trust, to show we were not going outside of the lines.

Q: What does it take to maintain this?

A: Holly: It’s part of everyone’s job. There was not internal or external relations — we all worked together as a team and built our skills together. However, there are some people much more comfortable with traditional media than social media. As a team, we decide who works better on each project.

December 10, 2013 0 comments

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