When I attended a U2 concert in May, I learned three important lessons from Bono about engaging with patients on my hospital’s Facebook page.
Traditionally, communicating messages was simply grabbing a megaphone and shouting as loud as you can, hoping your audience captures your message and takes action. But social media operates in a different manner—it’s shared interactions between friends.
Bono can show you how to do this.
Pay attention to your audience
Last month, more than 40,000 U2 fans packed the stadium in Salt Lake City, but each fan had a different level of interest in the concert. Some were there because someone had invited them. Others camped out the night before to be as close to Bono and The Edge as possible. During the concert, some fans swayed to the music, danced to the beat, or shouted “I love you, Bono!” Some fans just stood there and clapped on cue.
Do you have fans that fit into any one of those categories? Maybe they are only fans because a friend or family member invited them to join. After all, who can say no to “liking” a children’s hospital? Every Facebook page is going to have varying demographics and interest levels, so the more variety you have in your posts, the better chances you have of engaging more fans in your efforts.
Invite your fans to sing
Hearing U2 perform their music live is a great experience. But U2 did more than just play its hits. Between numbers, Bono took the opportunity to speak with his fans. This concert was actually scheduled in May 2010, but less than one week before the tour started, Bono injured his back and found himself in a German hospital, causing the concert to be postponed roughly 365 days.
Bono took a few moments to acknowledge the disappointment this caused his fans. He also expressed his appreciation to each person in the stadium for standing by him and providing such a warm welcome on a chilly May night. He also spoke about his work with Amnesty International. While Bono had messages he wanted to convey to the crowd, he also made the audience part of the concert.
On numerous occasions, Bono held his microphone out to the audience and encouraged them to sing the line, “It’s a beautiful day,” or “Uno. Dos. Tres. Catorce.” How often do you turn the microphone over to your fans and encourage them to share his or her voice? It can be as simple as asking your fans a question in a post, inviting them to share something on your wall, or encouraging them to repost some information to their family and friends.
Get creative with engagement
U2 fans fought to get as close to the stage as possible. Luckily for the fans, U2 provided many chances for fans to engage as they performed. Thirty minutes into the concert, Bono invited three sisters onto the stage, and together, they read a poem about Utah. Once the poem read, Bono laid across the lap of the three sisters and began singing, “It’s a Beautiful Day.” The sisters loved it. And the audience lept to their feet, applauding what they saw on stage.
On another occasion, Bono motioned for some of the fans to toss up white flags with the word “LOVE” written on them. Once he had one, he stuffed it in his back pocket, showed it off to the crowd (courtesy of a little hip shaking) and then tossed it back into the field of wooing fans.
Facebook offers numerous tools that allow organizations to engage with its audience—posts, questions, notes, photos, links, and customized tabs. But have you taken advantage of these features? If you have, what other ways can you use these same features to engage with your fans?
Follow Bono’s lead and take every opportunity to engage with your fans. Social media is moving forward, with or without you.
Jason M. Carlton is a communication specialist at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Including the U2 360 Tour concert in May, Jason has attended a grand total of two rock concerts (U2 and Bon Jovi), both of them this year. Don’t hold that against him.
This blog posting originally appeared on Ragan’s Health Care Communication News Website on June 3, 2011, and can be accessed at http://www.healthcarecommunication.com/Main/Articles/6900.aspx