Five Tips for Hospitals Using Social Media

Jennifer WestfordBy Jennifer Westford

Social Media…  We hear about its growth and see its impact on businesses every day. Over the past several years, many hospitals and health systems have begun to gradually integrate aspects of social media into their marketing, communications, and recruitment strategies.

The following is recommended for hospitals and physician practices using social media:

Don’t use social media just to promote and advertise your organization. People see enough advertising in other forms of media – Social media is meant to be interactive. If an individual sees a constant stream of posts promoting your organization, they may simply choose to leave your network.  Social media allows your hospital to not only increase awareness of your organization, but also to communicate with a network.  Utilize it to educate and engage your consumers as well. 

Track and respond to posts and mentions of your organization on your and other social media sites.  Consumers are increasingly seeking public forums to air their complaints, and Social Media provides a forum to do so.  Track and manage mentions of your organization – both positive and negative!  Reach out to the network, address specific comments, and work to repair strained relationships, which in turn, preserves your reputation.

Leverage your employees’ networks for recruitment.  Develop an employee referral strategy in which you encourage engagement of your employees in recruitment efforts.  Reward your employees for sharing your organization’s message within their social networks, which can increase your audience exponentially.

Protect your organization. Establish a policy to govern employees’ use of social media and provide training to ensure that they understand it. Make them aware of corporate policies as well as legal requirements and regulations, and encourage them to keep the content of their postings professional and respectful.  Post a public disclaimer as well informing users of the purpose of the site (i.e., content posted on your site is not to be considered medical advice, etc.)  Inform users what they may and may not post on your profile, and notify them that their posts may be deleted if deemed inappropriate.       

Understand that it takes time… It takes time to build a network.  Develop a social media strategy, then stick to it and revise it when necessary.  Don’t discard your strategy just because your network isn’t growing as quickly as you might have hoped…building a strong network doesn’t happen overnight.     

Social Media is changing the way hospitals communicate and build relationships with their consumers.  Corazon encourages hospitals to take advantage of this growing trend, yet we recommend doing so strategically, with specific goals in mind – only then will you achieve the rewards of social media usage while minimizing the risks.     

Jennifer Westford is a recruiter with Corazon. Find Corazon on facebook at www.facebook.com/corazoninc or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/corazon-inc.  Corazon offers consulting, recruitment, interim management, and physician practice & alignment services to hospitals and practices in the heart, vascular, neuro, and orthopedics specialties.  To learn more, call 412-364-8200 or visit www.corazoninc.com

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