By Kathleen Ganster
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube…the social media sites seem endless.
But they also provide valuable communication opportunities for health care providers according to Jodi McKinney, Director of Corporate Communications at Celtic Healthcare.
“Our stance is that the conversation is happening with or without you, so we may as well be part of the conversation,” she said.
Celtic Healthcare has a very active social media presence with a Facebook page, Twitter account including four separate addresses, a blog, a LinkedIn account, YouTube videos and of course, the old-fashioned website.
“We upgraded our website about a year and a half ago and at that time, integrated the social media sites,” she said.
Celtic created their Facebook page about three years ago, followed by YouTube and Twitter.
“We use them for public relations and education, of course, but they are also a valuable tool in our recruitment efforts,” she said.
McKinney said that many of their Facebook followers are employees, both current and past. Many will post comments on stories or share their own stories, reinforcing the philosophy and positive work environment of Celtic.
“When people read the positive postings of our employees, they see how happy they are and that is a great recruitment tool for us,” she said. “It speaks volumes about the culture of Celtic Healthcare, which is something we are really proud of, and I am personally very passionate about.”
Social media also provides a “great opportunity for free advertising,” said McKinney.
“We can post a letter, for example – and with permission – that we receive from a woman whose mother received care from our hospice, thanking us for our services and praising our staff. What is better than that?”
Celtic also takes advantage of the sites for educational and training purposes.
While social media can leave healthcare providers open to negative feedback – just like any other entity – Celtic has only received one or two negative postings, said McKinney. And those, she explained, provide a great opportunity for them as well.
“We embrace complaints because they are opportunities. A complaint is really a ‘gift.’ I always tell our employees that if someone cares enough to complain, whether via a phone call, letter, or posting, they are letting us know they care enough to give us the opportunity to explain or fix it and that is a great opportunity,” she said.
McKinney said Celtic took their time evolving into utilizing social media so that they could learn as they went.
“I’ve learned to pay attention to even the time of day when we post. Most people read Facebook during lunch and in the evening, so that is when it makes the most sense to post,” she said.
Keeping up-to-date with the sites does increase her workload, but also increases methods of communication and outreach she said.
“I don’t feel the need to always be posting. In fact, I found that when I was posting more on Twitter, some people would unsubscribe. It is a learning process,” she said.
Celtic Healthcare also includes an e-learn training segment on appropriate social media usage during orientation for new employees.
“We want our social media presence to be consistent with our overall presence,” she said.
For more information, visit www.celtichealthcare.com.