5 Facebook-Savvy Tips for Hospital CEOs

Many hospital executives are nervous about Facebook. In a recent Jack of All Trades blog post, Tim Strickland, senior executive advisor with Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, said the social media platform can stir fears of criticism and "double-barreled attacks." To eliminate misconceptions and create more enthusiasm for Facebook, Mr. Strickland shared five steps for any hospital CEO's Facebook engagement plan.

1. Define "engagement" and hardwire it into all communication plans. Hospital marketing directors should create a clear, concise definition of "engagement" for executives. "To them, engagement is just a fancy MBA-textbook word," said Mr. Strickland. The definition may vary among hospitals, but pinning the term to actual actions may help hospital CEOs learn what effective Facebook engagement looks like.  

2. Keep the focus on the consumer. Facebook content should not be about the healthcare system or hospital, but about the patients and people in the market. Content should be relevant to their daily lives, such as practical health tips or information about community events at the hospital. "No one cares about your new surgical whatzit or fancy thingamajig," said Mr. Strickland.

3. Anticipate feedback and questions via social media. Facebook is meant to be interactive. It offers a variety of ways for consumers to ask questions and share criticism. "The biggest — and far too common — mistake is attempting to have a one-way dialogue by choosing to turn off comments. Sorry, that's a great way to turn off your audience," said Mr. Strickland. Treat Facebook as a town hall meeting — expect feedback and respond to it.

4. Log in regularly. Hospital CEOs can't go a day leaving their Facebook page unattended. Someone in the hospital should check the timeline multiple times per day, otherwise things could quickly spiral out of control. "In the social-networking era, 24 hours is an eternity," said Mr. Strickland.

5. Keep responses personable and authentic. When responding to questions or criticism, hospital CEOs should write in sincere and "real" language. "Nothing can stop a negative threat in its tracks more quickly than a sincere post from a real hospital official," said Mr. Strickland. "It's a great way to interact in a meaningful and personal way, and it also helps transform your organization from a faceless institution into a collection of caring professionals."  

More Articles on Hospital CEOs and Social Media:

How Do Healthcare Professionals Prefer to Job Hunt? 5 Findings
7 Best Practices to Protect a Hospital's Reputation in the Midst of a Crisis
3 Core Legal Issues for Hospital Marketing Programs

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