July 27, 2010

Keeping Staff “In the Loop” and Connected


Last week, we quietly celebrated the anniversary of a recent addition to Mayo Clinic's internal social media world. Last July, we started brief every-other-daily e-mail newsletter and blog called In the Loop.

The idea was to cover Mayo stories that don't quite fit in our regular communication vehicles but are stories that get at the kind of organization that Mayo Clinic is. And stories that get at the kind of folks who work here. And the occasional story that lets us poke a little fun at ourselves. But most of all stories that make us feel good about being a part of this wonderful thing we call Mayo Clinic.

Our mantra was short and snappy. Just a couple stories in each issue. Just a few paragraphs in each story. Heavy on the snappy. With a nod to witty.

And since it was social media we were after, we decided that we'd best let it grow virally. That would tell us if it was working. It would also give readers a sense of ownership -- they were part of something unique, and it would only work with their help. They were invested from the get-go.

So, we sent the first issue out to a few dozen people. We asked them to subscribe if they wanted to keep receiving it. And we asked them to share it with others who might enjoy it.

Then we sat back to watch what would happen. Just a little nervously.

After the first issue, about 150 people signed on. Then another 100 or so after the second. Within a month or so, we'd passed 1,000. And it continued to grow steadily from there.

What do we have to show for it after a year?

- 4,300 subscribers -- based entirely on word of mouth

- Lots more folks reading stories on the blog. We share some of these stories on our intranet home page. Our biggest hit got more than 18,000 views, so of course we chose that example.

- More than 200 pithy features on Mayo news, happenings and -- our favorite -- Mayo culture.

- Some good visibility for Mayo stuff that otherwise might not get a whole lot of press around here.

- And gratifying comments that tell us that Mayo employees are out there, interested and ready to interact:

Thank you for the great stories and light-hearted approach in the In The Loop e-mails. No matter how busy or stressful of a day I am having, I always enjoy opening that e-mail.

IS this for REAL??? It's so HIP... so unconservative!! I love it!!

More than any other publication employees receive, I consider this one to be the one that actually instills that sense of great pride in being a part of Mayo Clinic.

I hate to be a redundant blogger but just have to tell you again how much I look forward to reading these In the Loop blogs! I have passed them on to countless colleagues. They really are short and snappy - just right! … The downside is now my (department that shall remain nameless) colleagues want one just like it.

To celebrate, we brought Fruit Loop-based treats to share with our colleagues. We wanted to share something loopy, and bakers can't be choosers. As you might guess, the treats were a tad heavy on sweetness and lacking in substance. We, on the other hand, always try to sprinkle a little sweetness onto something of substance.

-- Hoyt Finnamore, Sherri Lowrey-Schrandt and, still on a bit of a sugar buzz, Cory Pedersen.

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