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Five Tips to Guide Your Hospital's Social Media Policy

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, May 11, 2010

"To be successful at social media takes not only time and some strategy, but it also takes an outgoing personality. If you've been described as a people-person or friendly, you probably have what it takes. Or you may be a connector—someone who enjoys making connections and providing helpful information. In any case, you'll need to have some personal or professional experience with social media before hosting an account on behalf of VUMC."

Why take a positive tone? Because social media can, in fact, be good for your hospital and its reputation. Employees can be among your best brand ambassadors—it's better to help them succeed than to simply point out all the ways they can fail (and then mention discipline if they break the rules, to boot).

4. Keep It Educational
Whenever someone tells me I can't do something, my first question is always "Why not?" Although Kaiser Permanente's social media does have a warning tone to it, it also gives clear-cut explanations of why it's in an employee's best interest to comply with the rules. Even better, the policy references Kaiser's mission.

"Blogs, wikis, and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. Kaiser Permanente staff and physicians are personally responsible for their posts. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time," the policy states. "One of Kaiser Permanente's core values is ‘trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.' As a company, Kaiser Permanente trusts—and expects—its workforce to exercise personal responsibility whenever they blog or participate in any social media medium. This includes not violating the trust of those with whom they are engaging. Kaiser Permanente staff members should not use this medium for covert marketing or public relations purposes. If and when members of Kaiser Permanente's Communications, Marketing, Sales or other functions engaged in advocacy for the company have the authorization to participate in blogs, they must identify themselves as such."

OK, it's a little long-winded. But even a contrarian like me can't argue with that logic.

Read Kaiser Permanente's social media policy online.

5. Keep It Transparent
What to do with your employee social media policy once it's done? Share it with the world. Although many hospitals do post their policies on internal sites, many are making them public by posting them online. In fact, you can find a list of hospitals with policies and, in some cases, links to the policies online, on Ed Bennett's Found In Cache blog.

If you have a social media policy, leave a comment on the post and he'll add your organization to the list. (Just make sure you follow your organization's social media policy when doing so.)


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1 comments on "Five Tips to Guide Your Hospital's Social Media Policy"


Weight loss clinic in Connecticut (9/9/2011 at 2:22 PM)
Hey the tips are wroth reading. I was looking for articles like this one for my hospital griffin Bariatrics where I got my lap band surgery.