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Meet Your New Social Media Expert

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New forms of communication call for a new kind of healthcare marketer.

Whether you plan to hire a young social media savant or teach an old marketer some new media tricks, there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to your social media staffing strategy, from where you start your search to what department they end up in.

Look in the right places. You won't find social media experts in the same old places. You must take a creative approach to finding them, says Elizabeth Scott, president and CEO of Raven New Media & Marketing in Louisville, KY. For example, consider posting on the video-sharing site YouTube. More important, she says, you must use the right language. Posting an opening for a "social media manager" sends the message that you don't understand the culture of social media. Why? "You don't manage these communities—they're participatory, collaborative, a collective," Scott says.

Look close to home. At Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, NE, a network of employees contributes to the organization's social media presence. "As many people we can have touch and feel this, we're going to get smarter and we're going to have a better product," says Martin W. Beerman, vice president of marketing and community relations at the 145-bed hospital.

Tapping your internal talent makes sense, Scott says. "Our society is changing. The way we're looking at information is changing. No longer can we have large-scale staff with everyone being a specialist anymore. The economy and the environment we're in really call for us to find individuals who can fill multiple roles."

One caveat: Don't expect your existing staff to become instant experts just because it seems so easy to update a Facebook status or send out a 140-character message on Twitter. "Sometimes we're asking people to take on multiple responsibilities but not really training them in how to do it. Part of our responsibility as leaders is to shore up these folks," Scott says. "If you've got a great employee and you want that person to grow at your organization and you think their personality fits, then invest in that person."

Look at your prospects. If you post a job for a social media expert, you're going to get responses from a lot of 25- to 30-year-olds. Yes, younger workers are intimately familiar with social media platforms. But personal social media skills don't necessarily translate to the professional world, Scott says. You might have to teach younger workers how to use social media platforms in a way that best represents your organization, its culture, and its brand. Can they balance their own personality and cultural tendencies with those of the institution? "The culture is going to win a lot of times and you might have to swallow a couple of losses in terms of internal battles you're going to fight," says Chris Martin, owner of Chris Martin Public Relations in LaGrange Park, IL.

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