SOCIAL MEDIA USE IN NONPROFIT HOSPITALS — An Analysis of the Globalized Effects

For this week’s blog, I chose to integrate my thesis, which is about the analysis of Facebook and Twitter as it relates to non-profit hospitals. The four hospitals I chose for my analysis were Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The criterion for this analysis was US News and World Report: Top-ranked hospitals for cancer”.


For a period of four-weeks,each hospital’s Facebook and Twitter account was analyzed to assess the content produced in order to engage their respective stakeholders. Each hospital had a unique way of framing each message to their intended target audience. For example, Dana-Farber had a Twitter campaign during week 3 called #CareOnCampus that targeted various audiences by re-wording each message. An example read as:

“Dana-Farber @DanaFarber  ·  8h 8 hours ago

Did you know becoming a bone marrow donor can help save the life of a leukemia or lymphoma patient? #CareOnCampus http://bit.ly/Zgpbmk

Another tweet from the same campaign read:

“Dana-Farber @DanaFarber  ·  12h 12 hours ago

“Donating is the easiest way you can help out.” One student shares how she gives back: http://bit.ly/1yFAgcr  #CareOnCampus”

The rest of each generated message was re-worded each time to reach a different target audience, whereby the number of re-tweets and shares varied. However, this was not the case with the other three hospitals.

Healthcare is not a one-sided issue, since it affects so many, including those who are stricken with illness, caregivers, family, friends, loved ones, employers, and the institutions that provide specialized care. Are there any measures that stakeholders can take to deter content producers from framing message content as “one-sided” or in a way that only considers part of the affected population? As an example, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital tailors their content to specifically fit not only the needs of children who are stricken with potentially life-threatening illnesses, but also their families, both local and global. St. Jude’s public relations initiatives successfully appeal to the heartstrings of all stakeholders by skillfully treading the line between engendering empathy and excessive sentimentality. Mujtaba and Cavico (2013) describe the same quandary in their “Corporate social responsibility and sustainability model for global firms.” How does “sustainability” with social responsibility impact St. Jude’s attempt at implementing transparency with the type of specialized care they provide, while maintaining sensitivity with the types of content produced for social media platforms? (p. 67)

Do stakeholders have a role in deciphering asymmetrical messaging that has unexpected implications in different cultural contexts? US Hospitals are subjugated to very strict guidelines that are set by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Such guidelines take into account cultural, social, economic, political, and religious differences. However, there have been accounts globally where indigenous cultures have opened the door to negative outcomes, due to cultural differences and misperceptions. When it comes to research hospitals, the same is true with stakeholders who are dealing with life-threatening situations. For the recipients of these messages, the need to access sensitive and thoroughly comprehensive messages becomes an urgency.

As Mujtaba and Cavico (2013) inquire, how does “charity” or any kind of “philanthropy” play a role in social responsibility, or specifically in this case, research hospitals? Are the ways that messages are framed to target particular audiences, and thereby changed, ethical? How can we deter content producers from framing subjective messages that could potentially cause irrevocable consequences when dealing with life-threatening situations?

What are your thoughts?…

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