As organizations adopt social media and create corporate pages on Facebook, they have to take a closer look at themselves and decide who their friends really are.
This is especially true in the health care industry.
When you look at hospital Facebook pages, it’s surprising how many hospitals have only a handful of fans. Yet, as one of the biggest employers in a community, you would think they would have lots of people who want to follow them.
The problem is one of trust and control.
Many hospitals don’t allow their employees Internet access at work because they are concerned their staff will spend too much time updating their Facebook status. While this is a valid concern, it’s important that someone from the organization to monitor the hospital’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what people are saying and answer any questions they might have. The key to great customer service is responding quickly and transparently to these queries – and to do this, the marketing team needs to have Internet access.
Other hospitals have actually blocked people from commenting on their Facebook page, making it just an online brochure.
Rather than limiting access, hospitals need to engage their employees in their social media efforts. They represent a large portion of the communities they serve and while they may not be able to comment during work hours, they should be encouraged to join the conversation. After all, employees serve as a hospital’s brand ambassadors in the community.
One hospital that is doing a great job at this is Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Shawn Halls, a market research manager at the hospital, manages the Sarasota Memorial’s Twitter account at @SMHCS perhaps said it best during an interview with The Side Note: “We’re not just Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, we are 4,000 individuals who are part of our larger communities, and we enjoy communicating with our customers because they’re also our neighbors and friends.”
To provide ground rules for helping employees engage in social media, hospitals should provide their employees with a social media playbook or Code of Participation that outlines:
- Who will represent the organization online? This may be specific individual or a team of people.
- How will the organization respond if employees post something inappropriate online? For example, emergency staff at an English hospital were recently suspended for posting photos of them participating in the “lying down game” on Facebook.
- How to respond to questions and/or negative comments? Quickly responding to negative feedback can help diffuse the situation and put it into perspective.