Five Things I Learned at the #SwedishRagan Conference

A photo I took of downtown Seattle from the Space Needle.

I spent last week in rainy and cold Seattle to attend “The Role of Social Media in Engaging Patients, Employees and the Media” hosted by Ragan Communications. It was great to be surrounded by pioneers in the field such as Dana Lewis (@danamlewis), Shel Holtz (@shelholtz), Matt Cyr (@mattcyr) and Wendy Sue Swanson (@SeattleMamaDoc) to name a few.
While there, I learned why the Emerald City is the coffee capital of the world; I was SO sleepy the whole trip! More importantly, I learned a few things and noticed a few trends emerging in healthcare social media.

  1. HIPAA Is Not An Excuse – The phrase heard throughout the conference was “HIPAA can be violated on an elevator as easily as it can be on Facebook.” Do not let HIPAA hold you back from engaging in social media! The problem is not the medium where the violation happens, the problem is the employee. To prevent this, you must create an effective internal and external social media policy. Employees must know their boundaries.
  2. Get Corporate and Physician Buy In – This is arguably the hardest task you’ll face with social media. Administrators and doctors in your organization will have to be involved and invested for your campaign to reach optimal results. What is the best way to do this? Numbers, numbers and more numbers! The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project is a great place to start. You should also incorporate positive examples of social media into your conversation and/or presentation. To begin, look at what the American Red Cross is doing with social media.
  3. Don’t Block Social Media Access At Work – I was a little surprised to learn how many organizations are blocking access to Facebook and Twitter for employees. A study done by The University of Melbourne shows that those who can surf the Internet at work are 9% more effective than those who can’t. And in case administrators forgot, most employees have smartphones and don’t need a work computer to access Facebook while on the clock.
    Also keep in mind, you may have an employee who actually is passionate about your brand or organization. By limiting their access to social media you are denying your brand ambassador the ability to have a voice. Passionate employees are priceless.
  4. Education Is Key – If you’re looking to create a truly successful social media marketing campaign, you must educate employees and get them involved. I learned that most hospitals rely on their company intranet to communicate social media policies, educate employees and provide a sounding board to express concerns. Healthcare organizations are also using internal blogs to communicate with employees about social media. Find what works for your organization and use it.
  5. Videos Are KingWhen it comes to telling the story of your hospital, clinic or private practice, videos should be the backbone of your approach. It’s obvious that photos and videos gain a lot of traction in social media but the true power lies in the storytelling. Capturing videos of a groundbreaking procedure or of a cancer survivor’s story is extremely powerful. By doing so, you’re allowing others to tell the story for you.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in healthcare social media marketing! If you attended the conference, please share what you took away from the event.

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