It is my great pleasure to present the next profile. Chris Lindsley and I work together at UMMC and the success of our Web program is due to his management and editorial skills. Chris also manages the daily updates to our Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts.
Please introduce yourself
I’m Chris Lindsley, and have been the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Web Site Editor for the last 8 1/2 years. I’m in charge of content development and day-to-day operations of the award-winning umm.edu site, which has more than 60,000 pages and receives a high level of traffic — 90,000 visits a day.
Tell us about your hospital
The University of Maryland Medical Center is an academic medical center located on Baltimore’s west side, just blocks from Camden Yards. Our mission is to provide residents of Baltimore, Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region with a full range of care options, including state-of-the-art minimally invasive approaches. It also includes educating and training the next generation of health care providers and conducting world-class clinical research that can help to save lives.
Our 7-person Web team is within the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, which includes media relations and internal communications staff. We do not report to either marketing or IT.
What got you interested in social media?
Seeing the ability it offers to engage with others interested in health care and the Web, as well as the ability it provides to know what is being said about UMMC and being able to respond. It’s about being part of the conversation, and we’ve found that based on our followers, fans and subscribers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that people seem to appreciate our social media efforts.
What aspects of Social Media do you focus on for your hospital?
I focus on our social media content as well as checking to see what others are saying about us, or to us, and following up with those interacting with us in a timely manner.
Is there a particular Social Network that you prefer for your hospital program?
No. They all serve somewhat different roles.
Twitter allows us to share UMMC news and information with others, as well as other health-related news we think our followers would be interested in. It also allows us to monitor and react to what other hospitals and health-related businesses are doing, and to solicit ideas, feedback and advice from a wide range of people interested in health.
YouTube gives us a great platform to showcase our 170+ videos to the world. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about our videos on the UMMC site via our feedback form, and so adding our videos to YouTube was a natural next move.
Facebook gives us the ability to interact with our fans in a more personal way than on Twitter or YouTube. We’ve received many unsolicited patient testimonials via our Facebook page; it’s as though these people — employees, former patients and their families and others — are looking for a place to make their feelings known, and our Facebook site provides that ability in a format people are used to and comfortable with.
Did you need to “sell’ social media to upper management?
Yes. Our upper management was not very familiar with social media, and wanted to be sure our presence wouldn’t do more harm than good. Once it was explained to them, however, they have been supportive, and we’ve made it a point to keep them informed about the growth in popularity of our social media sites.
Can you share a success story?
I’ll share a couple of Twitter stories:
1. In one case, a reporter wrote a story talking a furloughs involving state of Maryland employees, and mentioned that this impacted UMMC. This information was incorrect, as we did not have any furloughs and our employees are not state employees. We were able to use Twitter to let the reporter and our Twitter followers know what the facts were, and the reporter ended up running a correction as a result.
2. There have been several instances where people sent us direct messages on Twitter complaining some aspect of their UMMC patient experience. We were quickly able to put them in touch with the UMMC employee in charge of that area, and soon after received a direct message thanking us for our help.
3. We’ve done several interviews about Twitter and social media with reporters who reviewed our social media sites and used the contact information on these sites to contact us.
What advice do you have for Hospitals considering a social media program?
- Have clear goals/objectives you want to accomplish.
- Meet with senior leadership to get this approved before moving forward. Be sure to have a well thought-out rationale/presentation to back you up.
- Find someone with an interest in social media to manage this, and include his/her name and contact information on the social media site. This makes your site seem more personal and responsive, which reflects well on your hospital as a whole.
- Start with a Twitter account; it’s the easiest of the main social media platforms to use, and gives you an easy way to see how others are using it.
- Keep your social media efforts in perspective. Establishing a social media presence is important, but not as important as the care and feeding of your Web sites. For us, social media is just one of many ways we have to engage our customers, but our main focus is updating and maintaining our Web site content to give people a reason to come to UMMC for care.
- Don’t use social media simply to push out your news releases and other content. The point is not to have a one-way flow of information but to engage with others and be part of the conversation; this will result in more followers, fans and subscribers and improve your reputation and standing within the social media community.
What trends do you see in this area that we should know about?
I think we’ll start seeing more blogs. In many ways, a good hospital blog should be the hub of one’s social media efforts. Here’s what I like about blogs:
- Good blogs, like good TV shows, make subscribers eager for new posts
- Blogs provide you the space to cover a topic more in-depth, include photos, etc.
- You can cover all aspects of your hospital, and have as many different contributors as you’d like.
- Former patients, employees and others will proactively submit stories to include if given the chance
- Blogs give you the chance to turn a “negative” aspect of your hospital into a positive, or to at least to provide the entire story that may not have been mentioned previously.
- Good blogs take readers inside the hospital, explaining how or why a certain hospital department or service does what it does.
Any final thoughts?
Be creative. Social media is a great area in which to experiment, and the more creative you are, the more likely people will be interested in what you have to say, and will let others know as well.