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Posted on 03.22.2011

Healthcare Social Media Tips from the Best in the Biz

Last week I attended the Health Care Marketing and PR Social Media Summit presented by the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and Ragan Communications. I heard presentations from organizations like Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Inova Health System and the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. Each organization had its own thoughts and strategies on social media, but all agree – if you want to be visible on the Internet you have to be visible on social media. The Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates that nearly 80 percent of adults who use the Internet search for health-related information, and even with about a quarter of adults not using the Internet, it still translates into 59 percent of adults looking for health information online. And for those who don’t go online themselves, many have children, grandchildren or friends doing the search for them. So where do you start? Start with a policy. Developing a social media policy for employees is a crucial first step. Make it clear what is acceptable and expected of employees, and how issues will be handled if deemed inappropriate. Once you’ve crafted your policy, create a time for employee training. Consider holding a social media “bootcamp” where employees review policies and receive hands-on training. Start small. Don’t try to tackle social media all at once – adopt social media tools one at a time. Try the one that makes the most sense for your organization first. Think about the materials you’ve already created. Does your organization produce videos for local news segments? If so, consider setting up a YouTube channel. Does your organization regularly contribute columns to the local newspaper? Consider starting a blog incorporating content you’ve already created. Start safe. Before publically launching any social media tool, test internally. This is a great way for your team to become familiar with the tools and address any issues beforehand. If you’re considering a Facebook page, create a private Facebook group. Yammer, a microblogging site similar to Twitter, can be set up to be limited to a particular organization so the messages are only shared internally. CareTube, a video-sharing site similar to YouTube, also limits who can see videos. If you’re in healthcare, what’s the biggest obstacle your organization is facing with social media?

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