By this point in time, almost everyone and their mothers (literally), have become social media savvy. We read @SusiePR's tweets about delicious food, @hkWinter's comments about "one love" and even @KimKardashian's notes about her new nephew, Mason; but, I can honestly say that I hadn't given much thought to how the corporate sector utilizes social media tools to engage their customers. At my very first PCC lunch, I learned how the healthcare industry connects with their clients via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even LinkedIn.

After an indulgent, three-course meal at Maggiano's, we were introduced to the speakers, media relations-specialists representing major corporations that included: Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Illinois, Abbott, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Science Unit of Edelman.

The discussion revolved around the challenges these corporations encountered while implementing social media and the strides they have made in this area. Within the past year and a half, health care companies have worked diligently to educate their employees on how to casually engage with customers online in order to build their trust and direct them to accurate information.

Different companies have adopted different social media strategies to adjust to their goals. Blue Cross-Blue Shield wants insurance to appear painless and approachable. Therefore, they connect with their customers by addressing their questions on Twitter. Northwestern Hospital wants to educate the masses. To accomplish this, they use both Facebook and Twitter to uncover the "hot topics" in health and then modify their website accordingly so information on these topics is easier to find.

The health care industry has strategically broken into the social media arena and has thus far been successful in educating and providing meaningful engagements with their clients. Time will tell what their next steps will be...

Maria Mianecki