Friday, November 13, 2009

Twitter Lists : The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Last week I was at a Social Media Breakfast event Paul Chaney talked about the watchwords of the new web being aggregate, curate and filter content. This sumarizes twitter's new list functionality perfectly.  I personally have been longing for a way to combine my contacts, since I started down this crazy twitter road, so I just love this. The icing on the cake is that I can also categorize and share lists of the people that I think other people should get to know. This has the potential of making twitter much more powerful for me.

I have made my own twitter lists for the hospital and for myself, but what I have really enjoyed is finding other peoples lists and subscribing to them.

Here are some of my FAVORITE lists so far. 

Ed Bennett's US Hospitals List

Dr. V's Health Care and Social Media

Lee Aase Healthcare Tweeps

Stephanie Thum Clinicians

Why Mommy's Cancer Fighting

CyberDad's NCI Cancer Centers
My Lists

I also saw this yesterday, an aggregation by the New York Times of their lists. ( I really like this and hope to see more of it from organizations. I know that I hope we can create something like this soon.

What are your favorite lists so far? Please add them to comments and share the love! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Muliple Social Media Pages -vs- Single Brand Presence

A colleague of mine recently returned from a Ragan social media / health care conference with a question that was asked during the session where she was on the panel.

The question: Why does your hospital develop multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts versus one single account?

There are a lot of reasons why we do it that way. I am not saying it is the right way or the wrong way, it is just what works best for us. Our way might not work for you but here is a little insight into our thinking.

I've done a bit of digging and discovered that our communications/marketing department structure internally is different from other hospitals. Communications is not especially centralized here, it happens all over the institution. Our communications office is in the building across the street from our internet content team, and you have to get on a shuttle bus to get to our marketing team. There are also people with communications, web and, marketing duties sitting in departments all over the institution. We also have over 300 web content editors for our website that sit in over 100 different departments. Needless to say, people here are used to owning their own content. Again, not saying it's right or wrong, that's just how it is.

Customizing your content for the audience is a nice thing to do. It is nice to be able to share one message with a prostate cancer survivor, and a different message with parents of a child with cancer. If we have enough content to serve an audience fully, we can customize the content to the audience. If you look around at our pages, one of our most popular Facebook pages is not about cancer treatment at all.

When we began deciding how we would do this, we realized that social media is also about individual voices we are comfortable in letting the experts handle their area of expertise. Some of our early social media strategy inspirations were in the news media. CNN, Wall Street Journal and PBS. These brands allowed you to subscribe to only the content that was of interest to you. I liked that idea.

So now our office of physician relations manages their own twitter feed. They share information, and have conversations with physicians that would not be authentic coming from me, someone in the communications office. Those conversations frankly would not happen if they were not having them. I am only one person, and I just don't have that kind of bandwidth or inside knowledge of the business they do in that area of the institution. We train them, educate them on the guidelines and we work together. The community of social media project managers here is pretty tight knit, and supportive of each other.

It's really not a very different approach to what other large hospitals do. One hospital I know of that has a large social media presence chooses to create multiple blogs, for various audiences, and keeps their social media presence simple. Currently we only have one public blog. I'm sure their approach has something to do with their culture too. Perhaps they have more staff with the ability to write and manage blog content, where we have more that dig social media, maybe they just have a different content strategy, or their communications goals are different. Who knows?

I think the decision on how to approach your social media engagement should be made based on your individual organization. It has a bit to do with how you are already working together, what your communications culture is currently comfortable with and how much / what kind of information you have to share with your audience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Physicans and Patients Connecting on Facebook?

One of my first faculty social media skeptics sent me this wonderful article from the New England Journal of Medicine. In the article a doctor talks about the perception versus the reality of physicians who connect with their patients on Facebook. Dr. Jain starts out by describing the initial "anxiety felt about crossing boundaries" as an "an old problem in clinical medicine but it has taken a different shape as it has migrated to this new medium."

I think that this is an emotion that any professional in any discipline feels when considering social media use. When it comes down to it we all have a life outside of our profession, and not everyone is comfortable mixing those worlds. Many of our relationships at work are very surface in nature. We ask about the kids or what the weekend has in store as a courtesy. How much of your life do you really want to share with coworkers or patients? What if your opinions, affiliations or extracurricular activities are not popular or comfortable to discuss outside of your circle of friends and family? Do you censor yourself?

This may be even more daunting for physicians. "During medical training, the importance of maintaining professional distance — however much one desires to have a close, meaningful relationship with one's patients — is taught by educators and reinforced by the use of beepers and paging services meant to shield physicians from their patients." So how does a physician participate in conversations with their patients while still maintain a safe distance?

At my hospital I have the pleasure of working with a one very creative physician who has decided to create a fan page. (See his fan page) He wants to be available on Facebook and share information without opening his personal presence to patients. We don't know yet if this is the right answer but it does allow him the freedom to try Facebook for patient interaction with a little more control over the level of interaction.

I think it is too soon to tell if there is any real danger of adding patients as fans on Facebook, but it seems that the perceived danger has felt real enough to keep many physicians from embracing it fully. If the fan page approach turns out to have benefit to our faculty member we will post the results either to this blog or to the blog for the hospital.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Find out Who's using Facebook in your Hospital

Last week our internal communications department wrote a short article in our online / e-mail employee newsletter about our use of Facebook. It was meant to raise internal awareness, and maybe gain us some new followers. At the end of the article they added a short list of sanctioned institutional Facebook accounts, and my contact information for questions.

The article appeared on the home page of the intranet first thing in the morning. I took a look, and was pleased, then I ran off to my morning staff meeting, then across the street to one more meeting. Two hours later I got back to my desk to find voice-mails and e-mails from staff asking why their departmental Facebook fan pages and groups were not on the list that was in the article?

My answer? "Every group and page that has followed the institutional approval process for Facebook groups was added to the list. If you contact external communications, filled out the form and followed the guidelines, then your group should be on the list." My favorite response to that was a bit of stuttering , then "well I am going to have to contact the admin that set this up and get back to you about this" Then I think she hung up on me.

Now I know who exactly who is in violation, and they know that one of the sanctions for creating a group without institutional permission means you will not enjoy any institutional support for that group. Now we realize that anyone and everyone is allowed to set up their own Facebook page. It is not our intention to shut people down just for not following the rules. However the guidelines are in place for a reason, to protect the institution, and the administrator(s) of the content.

We found another well meaning, but sort of rogue group a few weeks ago, so we asked our legal department about our options. There was not much we could do, but they did recomend that we ask employees who create these groups that don't want to comply with the guidelines to place disclaimers on thier page stating that their page is not an official representation of the institution.

If I can't get this cleared up the easy way. I think that will be my next step.