Social media 'ultimate grassroots tool'

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WASHINGTON – NCART recently asked CRT stakeholders to tweet to key Congressional offices in an effort to pass its two bills. 

“I think it’s going well,” said Executive Director Don Clayback. “Our objective really is to make sure that were reaching out to the offices of Congress and whatever avenues they monitor.”

To maximize exposure, NCART has created a list of Congressional twitter handles and hashtags to use in tweets. Its key message: “Help people with disabilities get needed specialized equipment. Pass #HR942 & #S948 this year!”

“We’ve used Twitter before in limited situations, to let people know what’s going on relative to NCART, and also to highlight some other industry issues, but we’re looking at using it more frequently to get people engaged in outreach activities,” said Clayback.

It’s just one example of how HME stakeholders are ramping up their use of social media as a way to engage users and enact change.

Social media is the ultimate grassroots campaign tool, said Lisa Wells, president of Get Social Consulting, who manages Save My Medical Supplies (SMMS), an AAHomecare consumer education website.

“Today, more than ever, people are more easily educated and able to tell their friends and family about issues and political matters that impact them on a personal level,” said Wells. 

Although providers and manufacturers may secretly hope for instant results, building relationships with patients through social media can take time, says Lalaina Rabary, a communications and marketing specialist for People for Quality Care (PFQC), the advocacy division of The VGM Group. In a perfect world individuals would take it upon themselves to mobilize and take action.  

“Obviously our goal is to fire everybody up about what’s happening (with Medicare) and we do want them to say, ‘Hey what can we do?’ but that often times takes a lot of conversation to get to that point,” said Rabary. 

Even so, Clayback says it would behoove providers and manufacturers to follow NCART’s lead.

“Social media plays an important role in people’s daily lives, to both inform them, and sometimes spur them to action,” he said. “It’s important to make it part of the process, in terms of maximizing your success. I think that needs to be a part of your strategy.”