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Best practices: Hospital social media wish list

Posted Jun 12 2013 3:12pm

by Nancy Cawley Jean

Don't let anyone kid you. Doing social media for a hospital is a lot of work. Some books and articles say it takes an hour a day; well, that's just not true--at least in my opinion.

In my role, I manage social media for a health system that includes five hospitals and a women's medicine practice. It's a job I absolutely love, but I won't tell you it's easy.

Through six Facebook, six Twitter, five Google+, three Pinterest pages and a YouTube channel, you can imagine the amount of time spent managing and monitoring. It is a full-time job. The disappointing part of that is there isn't always time to focus on some things that would be great to do in the social media world.

I was recently asked to come up with a wish list of things that ideally we’d be doing if we had more resources (monetary and staff). Here's part of my wish list--the things I really want to be doing but simply don't have time to do, or don't do often enough. In my mind, they are the best practices, the "golden tickets" of social media for hospitals. I'd recommend adding these to your bag of tricks if you haven't already.

  • Develop and maintain a blog with two to three posts a week. Interview doctors and clinicians and write posts on hot and timely topics. Mix up the content and provide a variety of fun, interesting and helpful articles. Share them on other social networks too. Some hospitals with great blogs include Mayo Clinic , Cleveland Clinic , Cincinnati Children's and Boston Children's Thrive .
  • Walk around the hospitals and take photos of patients (with consent of course), families, staff, clinics, cool things in the facilities to post. Think about what makes your hospital unique and showcase it. Photos generate the most engagement on social networks.
  • Provide live coverage of some key marketing and development events, like ribbon cuttings, openings, fundraising events and press conferences. Use pictures and videos. You can tweet it live on Twitter as it's happening, then post on Facebook, Pinterest or Flickr pages, and include them in your e-newletters. Share them with your intranet and internet teams.
  • Create great videos to share through your networks. It could be a patient, a fun event, a health tip from a clinician--and try to make it fun! (Think Pink Glove dance .) They don't have to be professionally done--your iPhone will be just fine when it's not an official marketing/advertising/branding video. Rule of thumb: The shorter the better because attention spans are short!
  • Look for great patient stories. These are priceless when it comes to marketing and advertising your hospital. What better way to showcase your expertise than through a success story told through a picture or video? This picture of one of our patients who got all dressed up for her last day of chemo was posted on one of our Facebook pages and was the most popular post since we started the page.

I guarantee that if you include this type of activity in your social media plan, you will see an increase in your engagement. What have you found to be the best for social media engagement?

Nancy Cawley Jean is a senior media relations officer for the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island, managing social media for five hospitals and a women's medicine practice.

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