Adapting to the Changing Face of Social Media and Healthcare

One area of society that has been slow to adopt social media and how its use or non-use can adversely affect a company is the healthcare field. This is not so much an oversight, but just the result of the field’s slow and conservative nature. While this attitude might have worked in the past, in today’s age of instant messaging, what happened an hour ago typically finds its way to social media fairly quickly. It is imperative that healthcare facilities and professionals adapt to this new way of doing business, or suffer the consequences. The same can be said for any business, however.

Below are listed some ways of dealing with and keeping on top of social media. If followed, they allow organizations to control what is put out about them more easily, instead of the other way around.

  • Listen: Listening to what is being said about your organization is important. This is even more crucial when it comes to social media. The speed at which social media can travel is astounding, and if not paid attention to properly, a situation can quickly grow beyond your ability to control it.
  • Participate: Actively participating in social media not only gives your organization an online presence, but when a crisis happens it gives you a voice in how your company comes across. Lack of participation on your part will invariably result in someone else not associated with your company controlling the information put out about a crisis and how it relates to your organization.
  • Respond: The quickness with which you respond is as important as your response. Responding days after an event happens does little to alleviate any questions that the media or customers might have. By that point, your organization has suffered reputational loss that you might not be able to regain.
  • Treatment: When dealing with a crisis, treat the root cause of the problem as opposed to the coverage that social media affords. You should also tell the community what you are doing to fix the problem and when they can expect to see results.
  • Honesty: When telling the media and your customers what your organization is doing to fix the problem, be open an honest. Also, approaching your customers with empathy and respect will serve you better in the long run. Honesty about any timelines is also crucial, and if you don’t know, tell them that you will let them know as soon as you do, and then follow through.
  • SOP: Adjust any Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) you have in place to account for social media. A big problem with companies is that they establish SOPs, but then do nothing else. Organizational SOPs should be revisited every year and updated where appropriate.
  • Digital Response: Organizational Websites and blogs provide an important method to keep in touch with your clientele. These resources should be tended and kept up to date. There is nothing worse than having a blog on your Website with the last posted blog over a year, or months old. If you have more than one channel, such as a blog, Twitter, or Facebook account, send the same message when dealing with the current crisis.
  • Education: Educate your employees on the correct and incorrect responses on social media to a crisis. Keep employees involved in the communication process as well as they can act as a set of eyes and ears while on the Internet. They can also be a source of support when dealing with a crisis.

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