How #EmployeeAdvocacy Revived A Hospital System

Social media fads are born every second and leave just as fast. You have brands that have no business being on snapchat trying to copy other brands that actually have an audience/reason to be there, you have brands trying to act as ‘cool’ as others by tapping into an influencer conversation with a tone of voice completely off base from their own, and then you have my favorite, the brands that hop onto every new network as soon as it comes out leaving a trail of washed up social media accounts instead aof being strong in social media on the networks their audience lives on. One rising star of social media that I guarantee you is not a fad, and something that every brand can utilize, is employee advocacy. The practice of setting up a tool that harbors pre-approved content your employees can safely share online is invaluable in the social space. Not only does it add to your social media resources (more on that below), but it also empowers your employees to feel like they have an investment in your brand.

While I was at a healthcare company I setup an employee advocacy program as a way to train employees on social media and tap into extra resources. While the setup took a lot of buy-in from executives and initial training, the results were astounding. In just a few months, only a few dozen employees amplified our content by millions and increased engagement by tens of thousands. Imagine what could happen with more.

I plan on writing more granular in the future about employee advocacy and how to set it up, sustain it, etc., but right now I want to focus on why your brand should be hopping on the bandwagon.

Here are the five biggest benefits of employee advocacy that I believe will make it a must-have:

Added Resources

This is an important one as many companies are cutting their social media staff as budget cuts come through. Some teams are being whittled down to one or two people that are responsible for running a Fortune 500 company’s social media. Employee advocacy creates resources in two ways. It adds content creators as employees are allowed to submit posts of their liking to the program, and it adds publishers by allowing employees to publish branded content to numerous personal social media networks. Suddenly, your team of two grows exponentially. Imagine how many more things your social media team would be able to do with more content creators and publishers on their side.

Executive Exposure

An employee advocacy program is a great way to bring your executives to the forefront. It enables social media shy executives to share content with one push of a button. During my time working on an employee advocacy program, I saw executives who never considered social media before suddenly joining others in posting content. With the right training and a tool that allowed content to come to them ready to go, nothing stood in their way of using social media to its utmost power. In fact, one executive who had little do with social media prior became a front-runner on the leadership boards which was amazing to watch.

Increased KPIs

We watched our metrics soar through the roof when we initiated an employee advocacy program. Our messages gained higher reach, engagement and clicks. It’s a no-brainer that adding more eyes to your content increases everything else, as well. This came in handy when selling the continuation of employee advocacy to executives. You can’t argue with numbers.

High-Value Marketing At A Low Cost

When you compare how much reach, engagement and clicks you get from an employee advocacy program to the cost of advertising on the social media networks, the difference is unbelievable. We could put $100K behind a buy and see more engagement from our program (which was way less than that). This is another point to keep in mind with budgets being cut for social media at many different companies.

Crisis Management

An employee advocacy program gives you the ability to create pre-approved social media messaging for a crisis and send it out right away for your advocates to share. It allows employees to advocate on your brand’s behalf and pour some water on fires before they burn your reputation. It’s a great way to control the messaging to make sure it is on-brand, while also reaching the right people to share it.

Whether you have a cut in your budget coming up, or you are under resourced, or you want to empower your employees → employee advocacy is the way to go. Have questions about what the next steps might be for you? I’m happy to answer in the comments below.

– Marji J. Sherman

How To Get #ContentMarketing Approvals From Compliance And Legal

A concern I hear over and over again at social media conferences is that content is getting held up in legal and compliance. Many social media pros are fine until they realize legal and compliance has the final say over their content. Then it is game-on.

I am incredibly lucky because one of my first jobs in social media was heavily compliant. The lawyer had to take a look at every single piece of creative and copy before it could go live on our social media channels. Fortunately, we became fast friends and he was very responsive and amicable to listening to my argument for why we needed to publish a certain piece of content. Basically, I was spoiled.

Then I entered the healthcare industry which not only required legal approval, but also needed to be compliant. OMG. Fortunately, the lawyer and compliance officer agreed that anything that was not part of a specific Facebook ad campaign did not need to be approved. Whew.

All was well until the lawyer of a large international nonprofit told me off three days into my new position on a thread with every executive in the organization on the email. He was angry I had made changes an executive requested to a tweet when he felt he should be the last in command to give approval. I was mortified. I spent the entire night fantasizing about a new career doing social media for small businesses that didn’t have big, scary corporate lawyers to call me out at midnight on an email chain. However, the big, scary corporate lawyer and I actually ended up making up and forming a very productive working relationship.

Which was good, because I soon transitioned to the even bigger and scarier world of insurance.

Suffice it to say, I became very grateful that I learned very early on in my career that the better my working relationship with the corporate lawyer and compliance, the more effective social media would be.

Here are some tips I have learned over the past decade that might help you get some more of your content through your legal/compliance teams:

Form A Working Relationship

Introduce yourself to your compliance and legal team. This does not mean sending an intro email and then a ton of work to approve. This means setting up an in-person meeting where you can discuss with them the ways that they like to work and how they have worked with previous teams. Ask them for everything that worked and everything that didn’t. If you are the first to work with them, provide examples of how you could work together and ask them for their thoughts. Then make sure to stay in touch. Schedule lunches, weekly check-in’s…whatever it takes to maintain a relationship where you both can freely exchange thoughts.

Provide Competitor Examples

This is one of the most invaluable lessons I have used throughout my entire career. With social media being a constantly questioned method of marketing, you need a sharp tool like competitive examples in your back pocket. If compliance and legal refuse to let you do something on social media that you have seen competitors do, show them a screenshot of the competitor’s content.

Understand Their Viewpoint

Sometimes it may seem that legal and compliance exist just so that you cannot publish your intelligent content. In reality, their prime job is to protect you and the company. So before you become defensive because they won’t approve your clever GIF, take a moment to understand why that GIF might cause the company issues down the road. Don’t be afraid to get a clear understanding of why they are rejecting content. Believe me, it will be super helpful down the road as you think about new content for the brand. I’ve had some compliance/legal teams that I have been so on par with by the end of the year that they have very few changes at all to the content I’m submitting. By then I know what they absolutely will not pass through, and they know why we need to use certain hashtags and copy on social media.

Be The Social Media Teacher

A lot of the disagreements I have had with compliance/legal teams have stemmed from them not understanding how the content is going to be consumed and what is defined as an ad on social media, and what isn’t. I was getting absolutely nothing approved during my first few weeks in the life insurance industry so an executive suggested that I sit down with the compliance/legal teams and walk them through my social media strategy. I told the executive that I just could not imagine that the teams cared what the strategy was for social media. I was wrong. The teams were so enthralled in the strategy and even thanked me afterwards for taking the time to answer their Social Media 101 questions. They said that they now understood why hashtags needed to be used and why we were talking about things outside of the insurance industry on social media. Suddenly, (some of) my content was approved! Take the time to teach people about social media and walk them step-by-step through your ideas. It’s incredible how much this simple gesture can help resolve content issues.

Kill Your Ego

I know, I know, but it needs to be said. Having been in social media for 10 years, I know how attached a social media pro can get to their content. It is like compliance/legal are putting a knife straight through your heart when they tell you to basically start over on a piece of content. It isn’t you >> It isn’t them >> It’s the LAW. You can’t take compliance/legal reviews personally at all. Your job is to disrupt a million conversations and grab someone’s attention, while their job is to make sure the company doesn’t grab attention for the wrong reasons and end up in a lawsuit.

Getting content through legal and compliance teams, especially in large corporations, can be tough. In fact, it has even killed social media altogether for some brands not willing to take the risk. That is the battle we face as disruptors in regulated industries. I like to look at it as being a more thrilling job because we have the challenge of creating stellar content that can also make its way past a conservative team of people. I promise you that when you take the time to explain social media and your strategy behind using it for the brand, you will have a better relationship with your legal and compliance teams. If you come in all hot to trot and complain that they never approve your content, you are completely murdering your chances at having a positive working relationship that it takes to get content approved.

Set-up a meeting with your legal and compliance teams this week and listen to what they have to say. You might be quite surprised at how willing they are to work with you when you take the time to listen to them.

– Marji Dupuis

How To Win At Twitter With Just 10 Minutes Per Day

One of the most popular excuses I’ve heard lately about the lack of social media use is that it just takes too much time. People feel that once they commit to updating, engaging and creating content, they will be sucked into a vortex. While effective social media strategies, content creation and brand engagement definitely take their share of time (that’s why most companies now have social media teams), keeping up with your personal brand on social media doesn’t have to be a full time job. Here are some quick wins for you to apply in just 10 minutes a day that will be sure to give your social media a boost. Stop making excuses and start engaging!

 

1. Follow 20 People That Are Following One Of Your Favorite Handles

One of the best ways to build a great audience on Twitter is to follow people that are following other handles that are similar to your own. For example, I am in healthcare social media, so I would follow people that are following other healthcare professionals and social media professionals. This way you are following people sharing content that you will most likely be interested in, and you are sharing content yourself that they would also be interested in.

 

2. Send Out One Original Tweet

Try to send out at least one original thought a day via twitter. This will keep your account relevant and fresh. The quickest way to do this is to set up a Google alert for your industry (in my case, social media), and tweet one of the relevant articles out that pops up in the Google alert.

 

3. “Quote” Retweet Three Relevant Tweets

In order to do this quickly everyday, it will take some initial groundwork. Think of hashtags that are relevant to your personal brand, and then search them on hashtagify.me to see what other hashtags are relevant to those. Once you have a list of about 10 hashtags, search 1-3 of these hashtags per day and retweet an article or thought that is relevant to you through the ‘quote retweet’ function on Twitter.

Using the ‘quote retweet’ will allow you to add your own personal opinion above the Tweet. This is important because it helps solidify your personal brand and build thought leadership in your industry. You might have to start with quoting one tweet per day until you get the hang of it and can start scanning twitter streams and retweeting more quickly.

 

4. Reply To One Tweet

Replies are a great way to get involved in a conversation. Using the same hashtag list you set up for step four, search for conversations that you can add value to. Respond to one of the tweets with your opinion on the subject. Make sure to put a period before the other person’s handle in order to get as much visibility for the tweet as possible.

 

5. Follow Relevant People Back That Are Following You

Take a quick look at the people following you and make sure you follow back anyone who is relevant to your industry or tweeting about something you are interested in. This helps solidify your relationships on Twitter. In fact, your ‘one reply’ tweet for the day could be a welcome tweet to someone who just followed you!

 

You don’t have to have copious amounts of free time to engage on Twitter. Follow these five steps daily and watch your engagement grow on Twitter. It’s amazing what conversations can stem just from following new people and responding to a couple of tweets.

– Marji J. Sherman

5 Types Of Content For Healthcare Professionals To Share On Social Media

As a healthcare professional, social media can be a scary atmosphere. There are so many laws telling you not to share specifics about what you do in your office/hospital, so it becomes tricky navigating what you can and cannot talk about. Don’t let the public nature of social media scare you away, though. There are many creative ways you can use social media to your benefit without violating HIPAA and other laws. Social media is an effective way to communicate with patients and other healthcare professionals. Through sharing news about your industry and engaging in third-party healthcare conversations, you can establish yourself as a thought leader while also building more trust with your patients.

Here are five content ideas to get you started on social media:

Stats

This is an excellent way to connect with other healthcare professionals. Share your favorite healthcare stats in short and sweet posts. This also provides easy, snackable content for your patients as they go through your feed.

Word to the wise here: Before you share someone else’s stats, make sure you do your research to ensure they come from a reliable source.

Personal Stories

Between white hospital walls and white hospital linen, the healthcare field can be a pretty sterile environment. Just like you would have photos of your family in your office, you should provide ‘snapshots’ of your personal life on social media. Patients want to know who you are outside of the overwhelming healthcare environment. It helps them to know that you are an actual human being that is out there living life out there just like them. The more they trust you, the more they will be willing to share all of their symptoms with you which means you can more effectively treat them.

You don’t have to go out and share your entire life story. There still should be a professional relationship maintained. However, there’s nothing wrong with sharing a few photos of you participating in your favorite hobby outside of work and high-level stories about your family.

Healthcare Industry News

With a simple search of #hcsm, or #healthcare, you can find a plethora of content to share. Just add your industry hashtag (for example, #cancer) to the two prior hashtags and you will be able to narrow it down to news specifically tailored for you. By sharing new advancements, treatments and studies in your field you will build up your thought leadership. This is also a great technique to reassure your patients that you know what you are talking about and you are staying up to date on the latest advancements.

Questions

Use social media to your advantage and create a mini focus group out of your posts! Ask your fans/followers questions that are relevant to your specific field. If you’re a nurse, you can ask them what qualities they look for in a great nurse. If you’re a physician, you can ask what qualities their perfect physician has. You can even go on to ask about what their thoughts are on news in the healthcare industry or what your office could be doing better to make them feel more comfortable. The list goes on and on.

Patient Stories

Now, make sure that you have the rights to share your own patient stories before you go that route. This is a whole other blog post. In the meantime, search for patients that have successful stories in your healthcare industry. For example, if you are a neurologist, look for incredible stories of patients that have persevered through brain injuries. This shows your patients that you care about everyone dealing with injuries in your specific industry, and provides hope that they will get through whatever they are going through as well.

While social media is still new, especially to the healthcare industry, it’s nothing to shy away from. When used correctly, it’s a great way to get yourself out there and show your patients that you care.

Try some of these tips and see what happens!

– Marji J. Sherman

5 Reasons Physicians Need To Be On Twitter

The first physician I worked with to get on social media was 100 percent against it. I can still recall the conversation on the phone with him as I explained to him a great idea I had for a chat and his Twitter presence. I almost felt guilty for encouraging him to take time away from his prime focus as a doctor to send out a tweet every now and then. After all, it can be difficult justifying taking a physician away from patients/hospital time to tweet. However, as the conversation went on I realized that he was still helping patients by taking the time to manage a Twitter account. I mean, imagine how many more people he could reach by sharing relevant articles and thoughts on social media. When I finally met the physician in person, he was not that interested in the account I set up for him → until the notifications started coming in. Once he could see the impact his statements were having on people he’d never met before, he was a fan of Twitter.

The fact is Twitter is an incredible landscape for physicians. It allows them to amplify their impact on patients and the world around them. Here are five crucial reasons every physician should consider jumping into Twitter:

Thought Leadership

We live in a world where reputation and leadership is increasingly more important and increasingly more easy to discover. Whether a physician is looking at jobs at another practice/hospital, or they want to acquire new patients, or they want to published somewhere, thought leadership is what will get them there. By publishing thoughts on the medical industry and joining third party conversations, a physician can establish themselves beyond their own network.

Third party conversations are a great way to build thought leadership. Physicians can use relevant hashtags to search for topics they enjoy discussing, and join existing conversations where they can add value.

Patient Acquisition

Patients are looking for physicians more than ever on social media. They want to know what the health grade is and anything else they can find online that might clue them into the bedside manner and expertise of the physician they are considering seeing. Finding a physician’s thought leadership and interaction with current patients online could be the final push a new patient needs to book an appointment.

Take Bedside Manner Online

Physicians that value bedside manner can use Twitter to amplify that patience and kindness online. While it’s important for physicians to be HIPAA compliant, interacting with their patients online can be a great way to make the patients feel connected to their physician and their medical care.

Networking

Physicians need other physicians AND other people in the medical industry. Twitter is an opportunity to find and connect with people to bounce ideas off of and learn from. This is an excellent way to discover new conferences, membership clubs and groups physicians can be a part of to help with education and thought leadership.

News

There are very few places news spreads fast than on Twitter. I remember living in NYC when Osama Bin Laden was killed, and finding a Tweet about it on Twitter before any news outlet had even picked it up. The physicians I work with can easily, quickly find relevant news about their field on Twitter in between patients and on quick breaks. Not only can they instantly know about new advances, they can then effortlessly share them with the network they’ve created on Twitter.

I stand by Twitter being a quick way for physicians to make big gains in the medical community. In a matter of seconds they can find important news, tweet a fellow physician and connect with a new patient.

Are you a physician who uses Twitter? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Marji J. Sherman