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Social Media Health Care Essay

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Active Social Media Management: The Case of Health Care
Amalia R. Miller∗ and Catherine Tucker†‡ January 13, 2012

Abstract Given the demand for authentic personal interactions over social media, it is unclear how much firms should actively try and engage with consumers using social media. We investigate empirically what drives the degree of engagement that healthcare organizations generate by actively managing their social media presence. We find that active management of social media is more likely to generate incremental engagement from an organization’s employees than its clients. In other words, active management of social media by an organization seems more successful at boosting internal engagement than external engagement. This result holds when we explore exogenous variation in a firm’s relationships with its employees and clients that are explained by medical malpractice laws and distortions in Medicare incentives.

Economics Department, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA and RAND Corporation MIT Sloan School of Management, MIT, Cambridge, MA and NBER ‡ All errors are our own.


Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1984973



The arrival of social media has led many organizations to question the extent to which they should actively guide, promote and shape the online conversations about their organization. In the past, firms have made considerable investments in controlling the offline conversations surrounding their brands and also in controlling direct forms of consumer feedback such as online reviews (Godes et al. 2005, Chen et al. 2011). However, it is not clear that such a hands-on approach is an optimal strategy on new social media platforms. Much of the emphasis on marketing in social media, so far, has been on the achievement of ‘earned reach,’ whereby a brand builds its subscriber base organically without direct intervention (Corcoran 2009). By actively trying to shape and direct their...

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