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Blog Feature

By: Kevin Asp on February 16th, 2016

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Using Social Media in The Sleep Lab: 4 Tips For Building a Strong Social Media Policy

Sleep Technologist Advice

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Learn how your sleep center can become a leading communicator in the social media sphere

Building your brand can be difficult, but social media has increasingly become a useful tool for hospitals and sleep centers to build their brand identity.  Using social media can give you an opportunity to listen to  patients, get feedback on wants and needs, engage individuals and create new incentives, a better reputation and most importantly, build trust.

Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic are just a few examples of hospitals with a thriving social media following and presence.  So how did they build such a powerful social media following?

It all comes down to having a solid social media policy.  Here are four tips to guide you toward putting together a solid social media policy that will help you build your brand's online presence!

1. Keep your social media policy educational 

 It's best to make it clear to your staff why it is in their best interest to comply with your social media policy.  Even better, some policies even state the organization's mission.  For instance, Kaiser Permanente's social media policy makes it very clear why employees should refrain from doing certain things throughout the work day.  For instance, take a look at what Kaiser Permanente asks of its employees:

"Blogs, wikis, and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. Kaiser Permanente staff and physicians are personally responsible for their posts.  Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time.  One of Kaiser Permanente's core values is ‘trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.'  As a company, Kaiser Permanente trusts—and expects—its workforce to exercise personal responsibility whenever they blog or participate in any social media medium.  This includes not violating the trust of those with whom they are engaging.  Kaiser Permanente staff members should not use this medium for covert marketing or public relations purposes.  If and when members of Kaiser Permanente's Communications, Marketing, Sales or other functions engaged in advocacy for the company have the authorization to participate in blogs, they must identify themselves as such."

Although this may go against our second point, "keep it simple," explaining to your employees why they shouldn't do certain things does make it easier for them to comply.

2.  Keep your social media policy concise

Although you may expect the most effective social media policies to be as lengthy as a thick stack of legal papers, the reality is that some of the best social media policies are just one-pagers that are simple and short.  Take Mayo Clinic's one liner rule for instance:"Be respectful and professional to fellow employees, business partners, competitors and patients."  The sad reality is that many policies are long-winded and confusing, so make sure you can make it easy for your staff to read and follow your policy.

Check out Mayo Clinic's social media policy for inspiration (what's great is that it's also publicly available). 

3. Educate yourself with the AAST's Online Course Module on Social Media in the Sleep Center

Not only will you learn the unique social media challenges of sleep centers, but you will also earn 1 CEC while learning about social media best practices in the field of sleep medicine ad technology!  In this course module presented by Jayme Matchinski, a healthcare and corporate attorney at Clark Hill, discusses the positives and negatives of using social media as a sleep center manager or sleep technologist.

This course reports the benefits of social media include the promotion of the brand, collegiality and advice on broad stroke issues.  There are also numerous pitfalls and legal concerns discussed that are of tremendous benefit for sleep technologists to learn about.

To get the module, click here.

4. Give your staff access to social media best practices 

lA way to make your policy more encouraging for employees to review and learn from is to add social media best practices as a resource you offer to your staff.  Vanderbilt University Medical Center's social media toolkit makes managing social media fun and informative. 

The toolkit asks employees to think about their purpose in blogging and other forms of online communication with questions such as "Who are you trying to engage?" and "What would you like to accomplish?" and "What is your message?"  The answer to that last question is a useful one: "Social Media is all about connecting, not pushing a message. To be a good participant, you must first be a good listener.  Your online community will tell you what they want to hear from you."  And it doesn't end there.  There is more encouraging advice to employees that asks them "Do you have what it takes?"

Successful social media practices can truly make a difference and it's not too late to get started today!

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About Kevin Asp

Because of the implementation of his best practices of Implementing Inbound Marketing in its Medical Practice, he turned the once stagnant online presence of Alaska Sleep Clinic to that of "The Most Trafficked Sleep Center Website in the World" in just 18 months time.

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