Catapult Social Media Literacy at Your Hospital

flickr: Toon Bronselaer

I spent a year as a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) during which I coordinated a volunteer program to boost literacy among children in rural Oregon.

I learned that third grade is the students’ catapult year for literacy… when the trajectory of their learning really takes off. Before third grade, students are learning to read…once in third grade, students are reading to learn.

Boosting social media literacy in your hospital is not much different. Initially, you and the staff will be learning to communicate using social media. However, once you reach that catapult threshold, you will be communicating to learn.

Engaging your patients through social media will enable you to better listen to and understand their needs and to create programs and services to meet those needs. By doing so, you’ll become a valuable partner in their healthcare.

If you are responsible for helping your hospital reach that catapult threshold, consider these ABCs of social media literacy:


You need to assess your catapult timeframe. When do you want your social media trajectory to really take off? Once you’ve established that, assess your schedule. Work backwards to plan the training for staff and to make sure you have policies in place. Then assess your resources.

BTW, If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read our series “8 Essential Steps Before You Launch Your Hospital’s Social Media Strategy” so you don’t miss a key step. The important take-way here is that an honest assessment of where you are and where you want to be must drive the process.

Basics and beyond

Hospital employees’ comfort and competence with social media is wide ranging. Make sure you offer the basics for the newbies, and more advanced opportunities for those who want to take their department’s social media engagement to the next level.

Although you may think bringing everyone up to the basic level makes most sense, you don’t want to ignore those enthusiastic early adopters. They can be your evangelists to help spread the word about the value of social media. Our principal, Dan Hinmon, explains the importance of evangelists in his blog post, “Bring Your Hospital Leadership and Evangelists to the Table.” Consider special advanced training or even an informal “users group” lunch meeting (you buy!).

Collaboration, not coercion

Joanne Wan wrote an insightful post that advocates finding the right leader who can build a social media organization through collaboration not coercion. She writes, “Your social media leader’s entrepreneurial drive to make change happen and proactively adapt the organization will be the deciding factor in how your social media program evolves.”

Now you know your ABCs…you’re on your way to [social media] literacy!


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