Step #3: Bring Your Hospital Leadership and Evangelists to the Table
February 10, 2011 • By Dan Hinmon, Principal
This blog is part three of an eight-part series on launching your hospital’s social media strategy.
You’ve developed a clear internal social media policy so employees know exactly what they should and should not do on their own social media platforms. And you’ve set up online monitoring tools and spent a few weeks listening to what your patients and community members are saying about your hospital.
Now it’s time to bring your hospital leadership and evangelists to the table to develop your hospital’s social media strategy. Selecting this initial team is essential to the success of your overall effort, so give this some real thought. Make sure you are involving stakeholders from three areas:
- Hospital leadership. Invite leaders who have position as well as influence. You know whom you need to win over to this new media effort. Make sure they have a seat at the table. Other key stakeholders would include someone from legal, human resources, and IT. If you already have an idea that you want to promote a certain department – such as your birthing center or sleep center – now is the time to get your department head involved.
- Enthusiastic employees. Spend some time asking around to discover which of your employees is a social media nut. Who is using social media in their lives already and is genuinely excited about helping to develop a program for your hospital. These are your social media evangelists, and once converted they will bring energy to your committee, demonstrate for your leadership team the value of social media and help spread the word.
- Social-Media-Savvy Patients. Remember that the purpose of social media is to engage with patients, so start doing that from the very beginning. The sooner you discover what your patients would like, the better off you will be. Select two or more patients for your committee who are social media savvy. They will provide valuable perspective and also demonstrate the value to leadership.
Your initial meeting will have one clear purpose: to build support for your social media effort. To make this happen, keep the focus on the big picture and talk about outcomes. Here is a sample agenda:
- Introduction by CEO or COO. This is a short statement giving his or her endorsement to your social media effort and thanking everyone in the room for being willing to be involved.
- Introductions all around the room. These are 15- to 30-second introductions so that everyone knows who everyone else is. This is especially important for the patients and staff members who may not know everyone.
- The power of social media. Here’s where you make a 15-minute case for social media. Why is it important for your hospital to begin this effort? What you have discovered – the good and the bad – while you have been monitoring chatter these past few weeks? Why you need this group’s support and involvement to be successful. How social media will help you engage with patients in a new and powerful way that will build trust, loyalty and – in the end – more patients and procedures. Briefly address the major concerns regarding HIPAA, resources, and return on investment. You can simply talk them through these points, or you can develop a short PowerPoint. If you choose a PowerPoint presentation, please don’t bore them with lengthy bullet points. Follow the best in presentation practices by having one large picture and less than 7 words per slide. Capture their imagination and inspire them with images. Give them all the details in a handout at the end of the meeting.
- What social media can mean to our patients and employees. Ask a few of your evangelists and patients ahead of time to be prepared to share their enthusiasm for social media. Ask them each to take 2 to 4 minutes to explain how they have used social media, why they are supporters, and how they hope to help your hospital in this effort.
- The next step. Here is where you outline what you plan to accomplish with this committee’s help. Clearly define the role and purpose of this committee: to help develop social media strategy. Break it down to three to five meetings, each with a clear objective and outcome.
- Questions? Give members of the committee a chance to ask questions and provide feedback. Don’t be afraid of hard questions or skepticism. Invite your evangelists and patients to answer if appropriate.
- Schedule the next meeting and thank you! Let everyone who attended know that they are a valuable part of the success of your social media effort and how grateful you are for their support. Follow-up with a thank you note or email in the next two days expressing your appreciation for their support.
Maintain a balance between leadership, evangelists and patients throughout this process. Resist the urge to just turn the process over to the twenty-somethings on the committee. Some hospitals have found great success in developing reverse mentorships where hospital administrators spend some time with one of your staff evangelists to see how social media platforms can work and to continue to catch the vision.
When you approach your social media strategy in this inclusive manner, rather than a top-down command structure, you begin building a social media culture among your organization and lay the groundwork for success.
Next up: Step #4 Understand the Steps to a HIPAA-Compliant Social Media Strategy