Clear Social Media Policies and Guidelines: Essential to Your Success

flickr: JSkilling

In our ebook: “8 Steps to Launch a Successful Hospital Social Media Strategy,” the first task is to draft an internal social media policy. A sound policy helps avoid embarrassing and harmful mistakes and is also a key step in avoiding HIPAA violations.

Social Media pioneer Brian Solis recently listed 25 rules of social media engagement. Some of these rules fit nicely into an internal social media policy. I’ve taken ten of his rules and adapted them for hospital use.

  • Identify an individual or individuals with a specific voice to represent your hospital. People expect to interact with people.
  • Understand with whom you’re connecting and what they’re seeking.
  • Be respectful, personable, consistent, and helpful. Keep things conversational.
  • Do not share confidential or protected health information.
  • Seek approval of patients and family before highlighting their case studies.
  • Know your defined boundaries and operate within them. When in doubt, ask for guidance. Doing so protects you, your hospital, and the people with whom you’re engaging.
  • Know when to walk away. Don’t engage trolls (basically, people picking fights for the fun of it) or fall into conversational traps.
  • Don’t trash your competition.
  • Apologize when appropriate and according to established guidelines. Consult with legal or administration where such action has not been defined.
  • Think twice before you respond. Remember that what you share can and will be used against you. The internet has a long memory.

When you develop a strong policy with clear guidelines, you’ve taken the first step to a successful social media strategy.


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