October 15, 2013

Summit Spotlight: Why we encourage our employees to use social media

By Randy Schwarz

Editor's Note: This post by Jessica Levco originally appeared on Ragan's Healthcare Communication News and previews the 5th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit in October, which is part of Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic.

It’s not just the communications team who uses social media at Mayo Clinic .It’s our employees, too.Here, social media isn't shunned. Social media is encouraged.

At our 5th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit at in Rochester, Minn., you’ll find out why in our session, “How social media can add value to your employee communication.”

This session is led by Annie Burt, manager for institutional communications at Mayo, and Elizabeth Harty, Mayo’s specialist for institutional communications and public affairs.

We spoke to both experts recently:

How does robust social media help employees?

Elizabeth Harty: We have campuses in five states. Social media helps our employees to connect with each other and the organization. Our internal News Center allows employees to post comments on our news stories. It provides employees with a voice and the ability to engage in three-way conversations—with each other and with leadership.

What’s the danger for a hospital if it isn't active on social media?

Annie Burt: Social media allows Mayo Clinic and its leaders to get closer to and learn from our employees in real-time. Just because you don’t participate in the conversation doesn't mean it isn't happening. External surveys show that employees feel companies with social media strategies are more innovative and collaborative. Employees are more likely to support those organizations in a crisis.

Allowing employees to use social media supports Mayo Clinic’s values of teamwork and innovation. It allows three-way conversations (organization to employee, employee to organization and employee to employee) to take place. This helps employees gain a greater understanding of information they need to know, information we would like them know.

Please give us three tips for convincing hospital executives to get behind social media.

Annie Burt:

Show examples: We can show examples of how social media use creates change or increases productivity, how it helps to inspire pride in our organization and how it helps to build our culture.

Provide data and metrics: We try to measure meaningful information, not just easy-to-measure information. We look at the amount of comments on our internal news articles, for example. We see how many people comment, as well as the employees who passively recommend content and like other posts. Define where you want to go and then measure the things that show progress.

Make it easy: Be clear about your policies, automate as many functions as possible and educate leadership and stakeholders about their roles and the benefits social media brings to your organization.

How can you encourage employees to follow the rules and etiquette of social media?

Elizabeth Harty: The rules and expectations for our internal social media are posted with every News Center story. We ask employees to practice the same standard of professionalism and mutual respect online as they do in face-to-face interactions.

See this page for details on all of the events in Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic (including links to Social Media Health Network member discounts), or go directly to the Ragan site to register for the Summit.

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