OMG #ouremployeesaretalkingtrash! There’s no doubt that social media is a force to be reckoned with. People are on Facebook, tweeting, blogging, and sharing with the masses every moment of every day. And while social media can be helpful in building your brand, it requires strategy. Many of the hospitals and systems with which we work have a social media strategy to carefully orchestrate messages consistent with brand strategy. But regardless of your carefully planned strategy, it’s important to engage your employees, or you may find that messages have run amok.
One disgruntled employee spouting off online about poor staffing, old equipment, or low wages can do more damage than you think. Consumers see these opinions as the “insider’s view” and will often give them instant credibility whether it’s deserved or not. When employees write about working double shifts and being exhausted, community members reading the entry might worry that the care is subpar. If they complain about wages or hiring practices, your recruitment efforts go down the drain.
One of the first lines of defense is having a social media policy that spells out the dos and don’ts for employees mentioning your organization in social media forums. I’m not an expert in this area, but I know there are several helpful resources that can be found online for crafting and reinforcing such policies.
Another very helpful approach in managing social media is incorporating it into the service culture through standards. We advocate writing a standard to remind employees that they are the face of the organization—both inside and outside the walls. This gets back to fostering a culture of engagement. When employees feel engaged, they are more likely to be invested in the success of the organization. Even more important than the policy is the spirit of engagement where everyone sees his or her role as essential to the organization’s success. What messages are you sending about social media? Are you handing down an edict with a threat of termination, or are you helping each person feel part of the solution?